In today’s GOP, there’s a rush by many of the supposedly “up and coming” political figures to go to the extreme right so rapidly that it’s a wonder they’re not all wearing neck braces from the freaking whiplash.
Since it remains unclear if failed, one-term former President Donald Trump will still be a free man three years from now, focus has turned to three Republican governors — Ron DeSantis of Florida, Greg Abbott of Texas, and Kristi Noem of South Dakota — as the “future” of the far right, and now that triumvirate is trying to outdo each other in a desperate attempt to be the most hardline and fascist of the bunch.
DeSantis has made his name by refusing to do everything to fight COVID-19 in the Sunshine State. Abbott, on the other hand, just signed the most extreme piece of anti-choice legislation in the country, making him the darling of the evangelical wing of the GOP.
Noem, however, appears to have taken a page from both DeSantis and Abbott, blocking mask requirements in her state, vowing to take legal action against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate executive order, and now suggesting that mandatory prayer in schools can solve what ails the her state and the country.
In a recent interview, according to Right Wing Watch, Noem had this to say about making kids pray:
“We’ve seen our society, our culture, degrade as we’ve removed God out of our lives…. When I was growing up, we spent every Sunday, every night, every Wednesday night in church. Our church family was a part of our life. We read the Bible every day, as a family, together…. I don’t know if families do that as much anymore, and those Biblical values are learned in the family, and they’re learned in church…. We in South Dakota have decided to take action to really stand for Biblical principles…. I have legislation I’ll be proposing this year that will allow us to pray in schools again.”
Here’s the thing that Gov. Noem conveniently neglected to mention: Kids can already pray in school. Voluntary prayer has never been banned in schools. Only mandatory prayer, which raises another question: Who will lead these prayers? Will there only be Christian prayers, or will Jewish and Muslim prayers also be offered up on a rotating basis? And what about kids who come from families that are agnostic or atheist. Do they have to sit and listen to a prayer, too?
Gov. Noem (just like DeSantis and Abbott) is overlooking the massive public health crisis in her state and trying to change the subject. It remains to be seen if voters at a national level will fall for this deadly bait and switch. If they do, all the prayer in the world won’t be able to save this country.