Carteret, NJ – The USCIS Naturalization Ceremony originally scheduled for 10:00 am Saturday 5/10/2014 in the council chambers of the Borough’s historic Memorial Municipal Building was cancelled by the Borough and relocated by USCIS, after the federal agency prohibited prayer and a moment of silence from the program and agenda.
On May 7th, Mayor Daniel J. Reiman directed the Borough’s Law Department notify administrators of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that it may not host its Naturalization Ceremony in Borough Hall.
The decision came as a result of the U.S.C.I.S.’s insistence that prayer be removed from the program and agenda for the Naturalization Ceremony. Mayor Reiman was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the event; the Borough and USCIS officials had exchanged several drafts of the program and agenda over the past several months all of which included an opening prayer.
Borough officials coordinating the event with representatives from U.S.C.I.S. had included prayer and a moment of silence as a part of the Naturalization Ceremony, as has been a practice at all Borough Council Meetings, as well as public ceremonies and memorials. U.S.C.I.S. subsequently directed that prayer be left out of the ceremony.
“We have always included an opening prayer and a moment of silence as a part of our council meetings, and services that we host throughout the year,” Mayor Reiman said. “We don’t influence residents in any way regarding their greater beliefs, but we do give them the opportunity to acknowledge the role that religion and spiritualism may hold in our daily lives, and that they most definitely held in the penning of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. There are those who would have us believe that the ideals manifested in our government emerged from a vacuum. We uphold, as the U.S. Supreme Court did just earlier this week, that that is not the case.”
Mayor Reiman gave U.S.C.I.S. the ultimatum that if it were to co-host its event on Borough property, a non-denominational prayer must be included in the ceremony.
“Carteret is home to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Agnostics,” Mayor Reiman said, “and countless ethnicities. We are as diverse a community as they come, and, I would suggest, as American a community as they come. 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. 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,” Mayor Reiman added, “and certainly greater than the administrators at U.S.C.I.S.. Carteret is not a godless community. Immigration Services can therefore host its godless ceremony someplace else.”