SD Gov. Kristi Noem hoping to reinstate ‘voluntary prayer’ in state’s public schools

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem/ Facebook

The Republican governor of South Dakota is risking the ire of the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) once again, pushing to establish a moment of silence at the start of each day in the state’s public schools.

FFRF seeks to ban and forbid any kind of free religious expression in anything having to do with U.S. government, which was once all about freedom. Gov. Kristi Noem last got them worked up in 2019, when she successfully got the national motto “In God We Trust” be displayed in all public schools, sparking national debate.

At the time, the FFRF argued “In God We Trust” would lead to “more onerous things.”

Well, here they come.

The draft legislation on the moment of silence, announced Dec. 13, even specifies that the moment should not be seen as a religious exercise, reports Newsweek.

The bill sets up a moment of silence lasting up to one minute, with students and teachers able to use the time as they wish. The moment allows “voluntary prayer, reflection, meditation, or other quiet, respectful activity during the moment of silence,” the draft bill said.

“The legislature of South Dakota finds that schoolchildren and teachers are best served by a moment of silence at the start of every school day to afford them a reprieve from the frenzy of daily life and to set a tone of decorum that will be conducive to learning,” the legislation states. School staff would not be permitted to dictate how students or teachers use the interval, and no student may “interfere with another student’s engagement in the moment of silence.”

Noem previewed the legislation earlier in 2021 when she made a vow to “put prayer back in South Dakota schools,” a press release said. The bill is slated for consideration by South Dakota’s legislature in the 2022 session.


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