September 17, 2021

Would someone, somewhere please, PLEASE inform Republicans that religions other than Christianity exist? I don't want to ask too much on a Friday afternoon, but seriously, people, it's right there in the First Amendment.

Over in South Dakota, the governor is obviously part of the GOP's "Creepy Little COVID Cult" (Credit to Joy Reid.) Gov. Kristi Noem is facilitating — nay, accelerating — the death of children by blocking mask requirements in schools and vaccine requirements for everyone. Yet she purports to "center" children by doing what? You guessed it...introducing PRAYER back into public schools.

Touting that two years ago the South Dakota legislature had ALREADY passed a law mandating (yes, MANDATING) that every public school display the motto, "In God We Trust," she now insists she will push through legislation bringing prayer back to public schools.

"Well, we've seen our society, our culture degrade as we've removed god out of our lives. And people become what they spend their time doing," she opined.

So, I've become a cup of coffee, chicken salad, and a Samsung Note 9, apparently.

"When I was growing up we spent every Sunday morning, every night, every Wednesday night at church, our church family was a part of our life, we read the bible every day as a family together, we spent time with each other recognizing that we were created to serve others. I don't know that families do that as much anymore," she declared with the self-righteousness of, well, most religious zealots.

"And those biblical values are learned in the family, in church, when the doors are open so people can be there and be taught."

So, who is stopping families and churches from keeping their doors open to this way of practicing religion, Gov. Noem? Anyone? Is your religious freedom truly curtailed, or are you looking for a problem to justify your absurd and abusive need to proselytize?

Methinks it's Door #2.

"We in South Dakota have decided to take action, to really stand for biblical principles. We had a bill that was passed during legislative session two years ago that put the motto 'In God We Trust' in every single school building. It is displayed now in every K-12 school building in the state of South Dakota," she announced proudly.

And seriously, did you people know this? I didn't. If my kid went to a public school that had that emblazoned on its walls, that school would have a real problem.

"And I have legislation now I'll be proposing this year that will allow us to pray in schools again."

Pssst. Kristi. You can pray in schools NOW. Even public schools. You just cannot mandate prayer (remember how much you hate mandates?) or impose prayer on others, like you clearly want to do. In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled against that, in Engel v. Vitale. They ruled that inside a public school building, "[s]tudents are free to pray alone or in groups, as long as such prayers are not disruptive and do not infringe upon the rights of others."

See, for reference, places that know what they're talking about, like the Freedom Forum Institute.

But this right “to engage in voluntary prayer does not include the right to have a captive audience listen or to compel other students to participate.” (This is the language supported by a broad range of civil liberties and religious groups in a joint statement of current law.)

What the Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down are state-sponsored or state-organized prayers in public schools.

The Supreme Court has made clear that prayers organized or sponsored by a public school — even when delivered by a student — violate the First Amendment, whether in a classroom, over the public address system, at a graduation exercise, or even at a high school football game.

Of course, with THIS Supreme Court, I wouldn't be surprised to see Engel overturned. In fact, this looks like the GOP religious extremist long-term game plan. It worked on abortion rights.

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