Mayor Daniel Reiman of Carteret, N.J., canceled a citizenship swearing-in ceremony that had been scheduled for his diverse town because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services refused to allow a "moment of prayer" to be listed on the agenda for the event.
Reiman said the recent Supreme Court ruling in support of prayer at local government meetings should apply to this situation.
"They said the Supreme Court decision doesn't apply to federal agencies," the mayor explained in an interview on Fox & Friends
Public events and government meetings in Carteret begin with silent prayer, the mayor said, "and the oath [immigrants] take to become a citizen acknowledges God," so he did not see any reason for the agency to insist on a change.
"It's certainly important to this community. We are a very faith-based community, and it's an infringement on our First Amendment rights to forbid a prayer," Reiman, a Democrat, said.
"We have Christians and Jews and Muslims and Sikhs, and we've always respected one another and respected everyone's faith," the mayor said.
"[Immigration Services] took the position that even in light of the Supreme Court decision, it doesn't apply to federal agencies. They said they didn't want to offend anybody. I don't get that. If you didn't want to participate, you could just sit there quietly."
Reiman said the federal agency said it would move the ceremony if Carteret didn't follow its rules. "The reaction from residents was overwhelmingly in support of letting them go somewhere else."
The ceremony was moved to the federal building in Newark about 20 miles away.
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