CARTERET, N. J. — A New Jersey mayor recently told the federal government to host their naturalization ceremony elsewhere after they prohibited prayer from being presented at the event.
Mayor Daniel Reiman of Carteret was contacted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office late last year as they inquired if they could host a naturalization ceremony at the borough hall. Reiman told officials that he was honored by the proposal, and the groups moved forward with event plans.
However, earlier this week, a day after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of invocations at government meetings, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office again contacted Reiman, this time asking him to remove prayer from the program. He refused.
“I wasn’t going to budge,” Reiman told the Star-Ledger. “It’s certainly part of the fabric of our community.”
He outlined that prayer had been on the proposed schedule for months, up until this week.
“It doesn’t make any sense that out of the blue this week they took the position that a prayer can’t be part of the program,” Reiman stated.
The mayor said that he attempted to reason with officials, noting that the prayer would be non-denominational, and that invocations have long been a tradition at government events, including in the halls of Congress.
“They refused to budge on that,” Reiman lamented.
Therefore, he told the feds that if they would not allow prayer at the ceremony, then he would not allow them to use borough hall.
As a result, the event, which was to be hosted today in Carteret, was moved to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Newark office.
Spokesperson Katie Tichacek Kaplan told reporters this week that the government agency has long adhered a policy of ensuring that ceremonies are “conducted in a meaningful manner which is welcoming and inclusive and excludes political, commercial and religious statements.” The office also asserted that the Supreme Court’s ruling does not require prayer to be held at events.
But Reiman said that the government’s contention wasn’t logical, considering that even the oath repeated by those who wish to become American citizens includes the phrase “so help me God.”
“It didn’t really make sense,” he stated. “They acknowledge that prayer is a part of many, many services.”
Reiman also posted a statement about the matter on his official Facebook page.
“Residents of all ethnicities and beliefs join together routinely at our meetings and events, and either participate in our prayer, have a simple moment of reflection, or quietly abstain, as the case may be. Never has there been contention from anyone of any belief,” he wrote. “The notion that we disregard our personal convictions to placate some obscure bureaucrats does not seem constitutional to me, and is offensive at best.”
“There are those of us who still believe in a Being greater than ourselves, and certainly greater than the administrators at U.S.C.I.S.,” Reiman continued. “Carteret is not a godless community. Immigration Services can therefore host its godless ceremony someplace else.”