In response to comments at an interfaith gathering today by New York City Mayor Eric Adams and his advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin attacking church-state separation and denigrating the nonreligious, American Atheists President Nick Fish released the following statement:
The separation of church and state protects the rights of Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and atheists alike. Over the past few years, Christian nationalist politicians and Supreme Court Justices have increasingly undermined this important principle, forcing their personal religion on all Americans.
Mayor Adams’ comments today were indistinguishable from those of the extremists who struck down Roe v. Wade and are working to ban abortion in states across the country, dehumanize and threaten our LGBTQ friends and loved ones, and treat religious minorities — including the nonreligious — like second-class citizens.
Mayor Adams’ and Ms. Lewis-Martin’s apparent views about church-state separation are dramatically out of step with the views of the overwhelming majority of Americans. Blaming nonreligious people and increasing secularization for issues ranging from increased crime to low student test scores is an insult to the millions of nonreligious New Yorkers Mayor Adams claims to represent. And for Mayor Adams to claim that government-mandated, coercive prayer is necessary in our public schools to prevent mass shootings is an intolerable statement from any elected official.
Mayor Adams should issue an immediate apology and make himself available to meet with representatives from the atheist community. He leads one of the most diverse cities in the nation — he should start acting like it.
Image by Metropolitan Transportation Authority under CC BY 2.0.