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Noem to Spend First Day in Office Excluding Non-Christians

Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib swore her oath of office on her Quran yesterday. Minnesota Congresswoman Ihlan Omar swore her oath on her grandfather’s Quran. No big whoop—it’s keeping the oath that matters, not the pages on which your hand rests when you speak it. Choose your preferred text and supernatural construct, and leave everyone else free to choose their own.

Alas, Kristi Noem chooses to launch her new office with a full-blown religious event that co-opts the most sacred of our public spaces, the Rotunda of the South Dakota Capitol, for a religious service that privileges her religion and excludes those of different faiths or no faith:

“On my first full day as governor, I will be hosting a Sunday morning prayer and worship service in the Capitol rotunda,” Noem wrote in an email to supporters. “Please join me and my family as we dedicate the next four years to the Lord and spend some time worshiping Him.”

The service will take place at 10 a.m. Sunday [Todd Epp, “Gov. Noem to Hold Prayer Service in Capitol Rotunda Sunday,” KELO Radio, 2019.01.03].

Noem’s message makes clear that the event is to worship one specific deity, meaning those of us who do not worship that deity will be made to feel uncomfortable and not be able to fully participate in this, one of the first public functions held by our new Governor. Her comment also sends the bothersome message that her public priority is her God, not the people who elected her. I expect all public officials to dedicate their years in office to serving the public. Any other personal dedication is to be done on personal time, in your personal worship space, not staged in our common Capitol as a rally for Christian dominionist supporters.

If anyone hears that Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are inviting their supporters to hold a Muslim religious service in the U.S. Capitol and dedicate their time in Congress to Allah and calling on attendees to worship Allah, let me know.

But it looks like Noem is setting the tone for her theocracy right from the start: Christians first!


  1. mike from iowa 2019-01-04

    I fully expect Nelson and his gun to show up, put a stop to this illegal non-sense and protect the constitution as he has sworn to do.

    But….I ain’t holding my breath. Remember, HRC had emails so anything and everything goes.

  2. Steve Pearson 2019-01-04

    Well I’m glad you feel uncomfortable. That would be the Holy Spirit working in you to wake up. Do you make these comments to you wife?

  3. El Rayo X 2019-01-04

    The God of Christianity, Islam and Judaism is the same. Muslims and Jews can attend and have just as much fun too. The sad news is that none of the attendees can bring their guns to the event. Sorry.

  4. Carol Hayse 2019-01-04

    I am throwing up in my mouth…

  5. Mick Zerr 2019-01-04

    So much for separation of church and state. Common sense and courtesy would have included in the statement an invitation for folks of all faiths to come and worship the deity of their choice. To hold this at OUR capitol is offensive. It is not her building. What will our little governette theocratic hypocrite do when her Trumpian master gets impeached, jailed, or resigns in disgrace? Perhaps she will hold a prayer meeting to pray for him.

  6. Porter Lansing 2019-01-04

    Steve Pearson (or whatever his/her name is) seems to be the uncomfortable one. He picks a forum of those opposite to him and spews his pain over and over. Are we your psychologists? Send the $1400 you owe Cory for treatments to his tip jar.

  7. 13 2019-01-04

    How is this legal?

  8. Ryan 2019-01-04

    If anybody would like to send the governor’s office a message with their thoughts about this god-and-pony show, here is the link to do so:

    Steve, you seem confident in your religious beliefs, which is great for you. Are you aware that other people exist? Some people even exist with different religious beliefs than you! Do you support the separation of church and state as described by our constitution and judicial history or do you and your fellow cult members not get enough of telling people what to do at church so you need to force your superstitions on everyone else at every opportunity?

  9. leslie 2019-01-04

    Ryan, Steve didn’t vote for whattzisne either so you both inexplicably come here to grasp liberalism. Grdz sarge Jason and a few other botts and trolls come here to preach too (sigh) and will welcome you

  10. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-04

    Yes, Steve, I did just describe Noem’s exclusive church service on public property (hey, Kristi, why not go to an actual church?) to my wife, and she is appalled… at Kristi’s bad choice.

    You would do well, Steve, not to presume to invoke the Holy Spirit as supporting your argument.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-04

    Note that Noem invokes her official public title, then presumes to act as a worship leader. Kristi, if you want to be a pastor, go to seminary.

    We did not give Noem the public title she invokes or the power she will wield to convert people to Christianity. She is welcome to worship and witness, but she must lay down the trappings of public power when she does so and act exclusively as a private citizen.

    If I believed in the Holy Spirit, that Holy Spirit would move me to make this same point. State co-optation of religion is bad for state and religion. One small practical example: all those believers who go to worship with Kristi on Sunday will be bowing at the altar of the state instead of going to their regular churches and putting money in their congregational collection plates.

  12. Jason 2019-01-04

    People get married on Public property all of the time.

    They even invite people to are of different Religions.

    What was the point of this thread again?

    Don’t go to the event if it “offends” you.

    If this offends you, you have bigger issues to deal with.

  13. Porter Lansing 2019-01-04

    It was either MFI or Jerry that pointed out that a tell for Russian influencers is double spacing. It makes it easier to go from a Russian internet connection to a USA connection.

  14. Jenny 2019-01-04

    Kristi represents Somali Muslims in her state also. Religious leaders should bring some Somali Muslims out to Pierre also on Sunday morning and join Noem. That would be beautiful seeing all god and Allah’s people worshipping together!
    I don’t care where people worship as long as its peaceful and all religious affiliations are welcome.
    I’m serious about Somali Muslims showing up to the Pierre Capital Rotunda on Sunday. Would they be welcome also?

  15. mike from iowa 2019-01-04

    Troll, since you want to act particularly obtuse today, this is the state sponsoring religious activities on state property and time.

    This is exactly what schools and administrators are not allowed to do on public school grounds.

    It is called separation of un-constitutional wingnuts and real Americans.

  16. Ryan 2019-01-04

    leslie, what in the world are you talking about? Your comment makes no sense for several reasons. First, I am a liberal. Second, what is “whattzisne”? Third, I was encouraging steve to not preach, I was not preaching anything. Fourth, I voted for Billie and I think noem busting out her religious nuttery is an obvious and intentional violation of the separation of church and state. She knows that not only will she get away with it, but that she will be praised for it. Just so you know, your teenage girl (sigh) crap just makes you look like you want to have an opinion about me despite the fact that you clearly didn’t understand my comment. Stop (sighing) like anybody cares and try to follow along with what is actually being said.

    Jason, you have again conflated the action of private citizens with the action of the state and state actors. The point of this thread, I believe, was to show that an elected official is endorsing a particular religious belief. This might be the 6th or 7th time I have asked you this, but you understand that the constitution restricts government action regarding religion, not private action, right? This fact is the absolute threshold of understanding you have to have to discuss constitutional issues.

  17. Debbo 2019-01-04

    I love that Sinema was sworn in on the US Constitution. They all should be.

    Omar of Minnesota and Tlaib of Michigan were both sworn in on the Koran. The best part of that? Prissy Pussy Pency had to hold it! 😆😆😆 You know, little uber religious himself. When he gets home he’ll probably ask “mother” to cleanse him. Bwahahahahaha!!!

    Haaland of New Mexico and the Pueblo people, wore traditional dress for her swearing in. Tlaib wore traditional Palestinian clothing. Another blow to Prissy Pussy Pency.

    I have forgotten the other American Indian woman’s name, but there is a photo of her teenage sons in the gallery. After she was sworn in they are dabbing!

    Think about this. In the US House of Representatives the atmosphere was electric, a party celebrating the wonderful diversity present among the Democratic Party. In the meantime, in SD, the new GOP governor is holding a clearly Christians only worship service that will be de facto white only.

    The latter is truly sad. SD is so missing out.

  18. John 2019-01-04

    Maybe the SD ACLU should sue to stop Noem’s government support of religion.

  19. Debbo 2019-01-04

    Sharice Davids, Ho-Chunk tribe.

  20. RJ 2019-01-04

    Why is it that people like Kristi, who least embody Jesus’s teachings, most loudly claim it as an excuse for their lack of humane behavior? This is rhetorical.

  21. Ryan 2019-01-04

    RJ, my guess is the mentality for religious people is somewhere in the realm of the prison experiments carried out at Stanford in the 70s. You may be familiar, but a study assigned certain actors to be prisoners and certain actors to be guards. The guard actors almost immediately began to take advantage of their power and treated the prisoner actors terribly. I believe some religious folks think they are better than non-religious folks, so justify being terrible to those “others” by not even thinking about them as real people. I think politicians do the same. So, when you get a nutty religious politician (like…70% of them…) you get the worst parts of society coming together to be ignorant bigots.

  22. Debbo 2019-01-04

    The new Democratic Congress has begun overhauling the terrible GOP rules and the first batch are here:

    SDGOP, you ought to try a few of these out.

  23. mike from iowa 2019-01-04

    From RawStory…….GOP strategist freaks out that Dem majority ‘looks like our future’ while GOP ‘looks like a board meeting’ from the 1950s

    Some wingnuts actually “get it.”

  24. bearcreekbat 2019-01-04

    I think Ryan was referring to the experiment of Dr. Zimbardo explained in his non-fiction book, “The Lucifer Effect.” The book is well worth reading and thinking about. It is truly frightening how people who are normally caring and compassionate can begin to take actions intended to hurt innocent people under the right (or more accurately, wrong) circumstances. Sometimes I wonder if this explains what is happening to hardcore anti-refugee, anti-immigrant Trumpists.

  25. Curtis Price 2019-01-05

    I think we should gather a congregation of the faithful to crash their party wearing our sacred colander headgear.

    Have you been touched by His Noodly Appendage?

  26. Joe Nelson 2019-01-05


    Ironic that you call the public rotunda “most sacred”. How is it sacred? Who holds the rotunda to be a holy place?

    As for exclusion, all are welcome, no one is excluded. Show up, worship, don’t worship, whatever. I hope that Muslims and Jews and Atheists and Agnostics show up; it would be a great ecumenical moment.

    The fact that people will feel uncomfortable? I reckon that short of stepping down, most everything Governor Noem does in office is going to make you uncomfortable is some way.

  27. mike from iowa 2019-01-05

    In the United States of America only one document is sacred and it separates our form of gubmint from religions of all kinds. Let’s maintain that separation unless you prefer kristian shakira law.

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-05

    If you’re a Christian, you should go to church on Sunday, not a political rally.

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-05

    Joe, I consider the Capitol sacred. It is both a monument to and the place where we practice our fundamental democratic belief in solving problems through reason and discourse rather than force.

    And Joe, I understand that I’m welcome to drop in to any church. But the experience of going to a religious service revolving around the beliefs of one sect to which one does not belong will be inherently uncomfortable to any human being who cannot in good conscience join with that sect in speaking its prayers and declaring its beliefs. That’s a big reason why it is inappropriate for a public official, elected by all the people to serve all the people, should pretend to lead or host a worship service… and especially not in a public building.

  30. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-05

    I will feel the same discomfort if we elect a Jewish or Muslim governor and that individual invites her supporters to come worship her flavor of God in the Capitol.

  31. happy camper 2019-01-05

    Barf to all the deities none deserve more than cursory respect she’s serving the people of South Dakota not the figment of mass delusion. It’s 2019 when will we ever get beyond this ridiculousness. Dangerous ridiculousness amazing how people conform to it.

  32. John Tsitrian 2019-01-05

    I’ve never been impressed by public displays of piety. Nor was it particularly appreciated in the New Testament. Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.”

  33. jerry 2019-01-05

    Sarah Palin will speak in tongues, via Skype, along with NOem at the gala event. The money changers will have their booths along the sides of the rotunda, for easy access. The lobbyists will be centered in the first PU, with Rhoden proving the incense to cover their stank. The good reverend Dewey Cheat’mandhow, will provide the word of the day. Speaking of which, word has it that there will be a snake charmer on site as well, fun times and appropriate as well. While citizens will be going hungry, NOem says “let them eat cake”

  34. Debbo 2019-01-05

    Jerry, I think you summed up the religiosity of the Sunday entertainment in the capitol building of all citizens of SD. If Gov. Noem desires it to be a Christians only venue, I’m sure she’ll be changing the tax code to be limited to Christians.

    Public displays of piety are reserved for charlatans, with one exception– Jesus.

  35. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-05

    As your next Governor, I promise not to make a public show of my atheism. I will spend every Capitol minute doing the work you send me to Pierre to do for everyone in South Dakota. Hap will still be free to barf on all deities; I just won’t be inviting him for a special ceremony to publicly do so on a Sunday morning in the Rotunda.

  36. mike from iowa 2019-01-05

    As South Dakota’s next guv I’d expect you to turn the Rotunda into a cycledrome just to keep in shape and remember that politicians go in circles like big wheels.

  37. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-05

    As your next Governor, I will ride my bike to work, carry it in the door and down the Second Floor hallway, and park it in my office, in the public area where everyone can see it. I won’t make a public show of my irreligion, but I will make a public show of my commitment to people power.

  38. Debbo 2019-01-05

    I just want to say . . .


  39. Robin Friday 2019-01-05

    For a second there, Cory, I was thinking you were quoting the guv on bicycle riding. I couldn’t really see it, but then I thought, hopefully, her bike-riding is less a criminal endeavor than her driving was.

  40. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-06

    If Kristi Noem were to ride her bicycle to work regularly and get together with Paul TenHaken to lead a bicycling revolution in this state, I might wait until 2026 to replace her (because holy cow, we absolutely can’t let gut-punching, false-alarming Larry Rhoden become Governor).

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