On her first full day as governor of South Dakota this month, Kristi Noem held what was meant to be an interfaith “Inaugural Worship Service.” It was actually a giant government-sponsored ad for Christianity.
The service featured Christian music, a full sermon by a pastor, and multiple group prayers. One of these prayers, led by a woman who identified herself as the new governor’s family friend, endorsed a Christian nationalist vision for South Dakota, saying of God: “You are the Lord and King of South Dakota” and “We thank you, Lord God, that we have faith — faith in You. And that Holy Spirit is filling this place now as we worship you, and the Holy Spirit absolutely takes over every corner and every crevice of this Capitol and of this state.” The woman then pivoted from Christian nationalism to exorcism, praying that “any demon that may try to come in this place is kicked out.”
“We hope that you can see how your endorsement of an event at which attendees were asked to pray that ‘the Holy Spirit absolutely takes over every corner and every crevice of this Capitol and this state’ sent an unmistakable message to all nonreligious South Dakotans ‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community,’” FFRF Legal Fellow Colin McNamara writes to the governor, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court. “We urge you to focus on the secular business of governing, and leave church services where they belong — in a church.”
Noem isn’t alone on this. This month alone, we’ve seen Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma talk about how his office will “join in with what God is doing in Oklahoma.” Tennessee’s Gov. Bill Lee sold tickets for “preferential seating” to the worship service before his inauguration.
All of these people put their hands on a Bible while swearing to uphold the laws of their states. All of them seem to have gotten the two books mixed up.
(Screenshot via YouTube)