South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem

GOP Gov. Noem Seeks To Restore Prayer In South Dakota Schools

It’s been almost 60 years since the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed prayer in public schools.

But Gov. Kristi Noem is seeking to reverse that.

The South Dakota Republican on Monday released the text of a proposed bill that will allow students a guaranteed moment of silence at the beginning of the school day, according to The Washington Times.    

The bill would “restore protections for prayer in schools, and guarantee that students would have an opportunity for serious reflection at the start of every school day,” the Times noted.

“Every student deserves the opportunity to begin their day with a calm, silent moment. I hope students will take this opportunity to say a quick prayer or reflect on their upcoming day. However they choose to take advantage of this time, it will be beneficial to students and teachers alike,” Noem said in a statement.

The bill itself says that the state Legislature “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.

“Each school district shall provide students and teachers the opportunity each morning that school is in session to have a moment of silence lasting up to one minute. Students and teachers may engage in voluntary prayer, reflection, meditation, or other quiet, respectful activity during the moment of silence. No school employee may dictate the action to be taken by students or teachers during the moment of silence. No student may interfere with another student’s engagement in the moment of silence,” the bill continues.

“Nothing in this Act shall be construed to permit schools to conduct the moment of silence as a religious exercise,” it concludes.

The Times noted that Noem floated the idea of prayer in schools back in July at an event in Iowa.

“I don’t recognize the country I had the opportunity to grow up in. When I grew up, people were proud to have a job. They weren’t confused about the difference between boys and girls. We prayed in schools,” she said at the time.

“We once stood for the National Anthem. We honored our flag, and we were a country that was proud of our history,” she added. “

And that is not President Joe Biden’s America. His America is built on hate and division, on pitting people against each other. And it is a shame to watch the violence and the crime and the lack of unity that America sees today.”

Noem will likely draw some legal challenges if her bill succeeds, as the Supreme Court has already considered this issue.

In 1963, in a pair of cases from Maryland and Pennsylvania that were consolidated, the court held that organized prayer by a school district – that is, the government – was unlawful.

“We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person ‘to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.’ Neither can it constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can it aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different belief,” the majority said.

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