SD Gov. Noem Proposes Moment of Silence in School to Guarantee Chance to Pray

SD Gov. Noem Proposes Moment of Silence in School to Guarantee Chance to Pray SD Gov. Noem Proposes Moment of Silence in School to Guarantee Chance to Pray Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

By Brian Freeman | Wednesday, 15 December 2021 01:18 PM

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has proposed restoring protections for prayer in schools, releasing draft legislation that would guarantee an opportunity to pray at the start of every school day, the South Dakota State News reports.

"Every student deserves the opportunity to begin their day with a calm, silent moment," Noem said. "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."

According to the draft of the bill, which will go before lawmakers in the coming year, no school employee may dictate the action to be taken by students or teachers during the moment of silence, and no student may interfere with what another student does during the moment of silence, the Argus Leader reported.

The governor’s draft of the bill states that nothing in the act should be construed to allow schools to conduct the moment of silence as a religious exercise.

That wording apparently has in mind the Supreme Court’s 1985 overturning of another "moment of silence" law in Alabama, in which justices found the measure to have a religious purpose, the Daily Mail reported.

The justices ruled in that case that Alabama’s passage of the prayer and meditation statute was not only a deviation from its "duty to maintain absolute neutrality toward religion, but was an affirmative endorsement of religion."

This is not the first time that Noem has attempted to bring more religion-inspired ideas into public schools, according to the Argus Leader. Two years ago she required that the national motto "In God We Trust" be displayed in all public schools.