New York City’s Mayor Takes a Washingtonian View of Religion and Politics

March 6 2023

At an interfaith breakfast last week, the New York City mayor Eric Adams courted controversy when he not only endorsed school prayer, but dismissed concerns about the separation of church and state, declaring, “State is the body. Church is the heart. You take the heart out of the body, the body dies.” The editors of the New York Sun praise his remarks:

Neither the word “wall” nor “separation” appears anywhere in the Constitution. Yet this confounded wall was used by the state of Maine to exclude students in a voucher program from attending their choice of a school if their choice was a religious school. It was used by Montana to do the same, as well as the state of Missouri to deny funds for playground safety at a religious school.

Yet we have been unable to find in any of those [or similar] cases a major Democratic politician siding with the religious party. We might have missed someone. The silence, though, is deafening. It strikes at the heart of New York, where beleaguered ḥasidic Jews face attacks from the state itself, demanding they educate their children in profane subjects and prohibiting the most Orthodox of Jews the right of free exercise.

So congratulations to Mr. Adams for his remarks. He expresses a modern Washingtonian view of religion and citizenship—a positive vision of the role of faith in American life. “When we took prayers out of schools, guns came into schools,” Mr. Adams said. He reminds us of George Washington’s farewell address, in which he urged the American people to ensure the flourishing of religious life to guarantee the wellbeing of the nation.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports,” the first president told the nation. “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” Washington sought no persecution of secularists. Neither would he brook religious exclusion, and it’s nice to hear the Mayor of New York echo his sentiments.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Eric Adams, George Washington, New York City, Religion and politics

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy