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What Is Kristi’s Christian Love?

…she is liberty
she comes to rescue me
hope, faith, and vanity
the greatest gift is gold…

some Catholic from Dublin, 1986

In her pious homily at Mayor Travis Schauanman’s Prayer Breakfast™ here in Aberdeen last Tuesday, evangelist and part-time Governor Kristi Noem said something about the love her Christianity drives her to profess toward her critics:

She is no stranger to being criticized by South Dakotans or others across the country. It’s something she said has taught her how to love differently.

“There’s one thing 2020 has taught me is that I’ve got a few critics out there, but I also need to realize that I need to love them,” Noem said [Trent Abrego, “Noem at Prayer Breakfast: ‘Stop Being Offended by Each Other’,” Aberdeen American News via USA Today/Yahoo, 2021.04.21].

It’s easy for Christians to pin the word “love” on their public speeches like some badge of approval from Jesus, but I get the impression that the Nazarene carpenter preferred the expression of love in actions, not words. How does sister Kristi really, Christianly love her critics or anyone else she encounters and serves as a public figure? Does she avoid bearing false witness—for example, avoid spreading the dangerous falsehood that her opponents are traitors covering up a stolen election? Does she avoid branding innocent humans as “illegals” and “terrorists” and express her Christian love as welcome and succor to all in need? Does she craft policies that welcome all humans in the community she governs? Does she pitch in to steward her God’s creation, or does she label such efforts as “radical“? Does she work to protect life, or does she manufacture false controversy to distract from her inaction and the deaths that result? Does she stay and do the work her community hired her to do, or does she devote her time to winning the attention of those who pray and plot holy war at the feet of a golden idol?

I want to know what love is; I want you to show me. It’s more than words. We can’t live on promises—we don’t understand the things you say ’til we read them in your eyes.

But hey, you don’t get up on Sunday morning to hear meditations on Christian love from me; permit me to yield the floor to Sister Kathleen Bierne of the Presentation Sisters, who goes big-C and small-c catholic and touches all the faith bases to say that Christian love is hard work… work that Governor Noem seems not to be doing:

It has been more than a week since I read and heard the disturbing news that South Dakota will not, according to Gov. Kristi Noem, in any way welcome immigrants to our state, unless they are already citizens. I was shocked and dismayed and have been pondering these past days how best to respond. And response, I believe, is essential. Whether one agrees with the statement, as some do, or takes serious issue with it, response is surely in order. The world is watching.

Beginning with the Native American belief that “We are all relatives” and relying on multiple statements from Jesus in Christian Scripture, “Whoever does it to the least of my brethren, does it to me,” we are asked to be welcoming. We can find similar references to our common humanity in Jewish, Muslim and other faith traditions as well. How we welcome the suffering humanity around the world is a difficult, but not impossible issue. It requires legal, financial, pastoral and legislative resources. It also requires a willingness on our part to contribute personal time, talent and treasure to work out the details of accepting and integrating new people and cultures into our very “white” and rural state. I believe, however, that the first need is for each of us to discern our own willingness to be open and extend a welcome when and where we can. Perhaps the first step is internal. What does my faith ask me to do? How can I help? How can the experiences that the newcomers bring to us, in turn, help us to grow? Can we say, “Welcome to South Dakota,” and know that we, in turn, will be the one’s enriched [Sister Kathleen Bierne, PVBM, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2021.04.24].

Sister Kathleen’s Protestant friends also pick up on “welcoming the stranger” as a core expression of Christian love:

Rev. Constanze Hagmeier, Bishop of the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Rev. Jonathan H. Folts, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota, open letter to Gov. Kristi Noem, 2021.04.22.
Rev. Constanze Hagmeier, Bishop of the South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Rev. Jonathan H. Folts, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota, open letter to Gov. Kristi Noem, 2021.04.22.

Kristi Noem’s “harsh rebuke of President Biden’s administration’s proposal to relocate migrant children to other parts of the United States to ease the burdens at the borders is not congruent with Christ’s commandment or his public conduct which we are called to follow.” That’s not me lobbing links and the U2-charist from the liberal peanut gallery; that’s a couple of collared folks saying South Dakota’s Governor is not practicing what she preaches.

I have no beef with Jesus (well, actually, I do take issue with his surrender to the Roman authorities—I think he could at least have put on a better defense, or just gotten out of town for a while until the heat cooled down). I have no beef with public officials digging on Jesus (as long as they do it carefully, with no hint of using public title or public resources to promote any specific faith). But, Governor Noem, I cannot tolerate the glaring contradictions of your all-for-show Kristicratic Christocracy. If you promise Christian love at breakfast, you have to live Christian love throughout the day.

Are we in God’s country, or are we in Kristi’s country?


  1. mike from iowa 2021-04-25 10:08

    Kristian for political purposes only, like drumpf.

  2. grudznick 2021-04-25 10:20

    May Baʿal smite the overgodders.

  3. John 2021-04-25 10:21

    Cafeteria christianism as practiced by noem, most christians and their clergy – is the leading cause of atheism.
    It’s refreshing reading and seeing a few clergy leaders stand up for their beliefs. We laud them.

    Yet, where are the rest of the clergy? Where’s the South Dakota get-along-to-go-along catholics, other lutherans, etc.?

  4. Nix 2021-04-25 10:30

    Her God is a gold statue of Donald
    Trump at CPAC.
    Some people in the past used golden calf’s.
    Today they use golden asses.
    She is a pagan with a Christian mask and her sermon is verbal vomit.

  5. Richard Schriever 2021-04-25 10:42

    Nix – Actual Pagans are much more open to the good and the God that is in humanity that is our Qristi Gnome.

  6. Richard Schriever 2021-04-25 10:43

    …..than is our,,,.,

  7. Darrell Solberg 2021-04-25 11:16

    Her hypocritical ways sadly show that her words are very deceptive, as her actions do not match her words.
    But it has been that way for quit some time. It would be nice if the voters recognize this deception!!

  8. bearcreekbat 2021-04-25 11:39

    Follow the money and ask what public personna pays the best these days in South Dakota. Are there more self-labeled “Christians” that actually walk the mandated walk directing how to behave toward other people, or are there more narcissists that find greater satisfaction using the badge of religion, here Chistianity, to justify self-ranking themselves above others, (especially easily identifiable groups such as immigrants, etc,) either oblivious to the damage they can cause to these other people, or simply not caring. Add to that the sadists who enjoy hurting others and the doofus sheeple who simply want to belong to what a appears to the most popular club in this State, and then determine the most lucrative source of money and power.

    With that foundation, and looking at the matter objectively, Kristi is no hypocrite. Rather she and her team are carefully calculating the marketing plan that they predict will pay off in the relatively near future. Trump certainly is seen as an effective role model.

    The problem for regular folks is that much religion, especially biblically based theology, generally attempts to persuade with threats, such as burning in hell. But the ticket out of this danger is to “claim” to have faith. Typically, one cannot avoid hell simply by practicing “good works,” such as treating others with love and kindness, rather, one must profess to genuinely accept, fear and worship God and Jesus. But attempts to convince people to “have faith” by threating hell for non-compliance (or offering heaven as a reward), show that religion doesn’t really seem to care if the professed acceptance is geniune, since the reason it gives for such acceptance is to avoid being punished or gain a reward. As our knowledge of the world increases, more and more folks see a problem with the truthfulness of such claims, especially in light of the complete lack of evidence of the existence of hell or heaven. Those that are not sure of whether the threats and promises are real often resort to accepting Pascal’s wager, “just in case.”

    In whatever case, my guess is that Kristi and her supporters simply are focusing more on marketing in today’s Trumpian world than following Pascal’s advice.

  9. Lui 2021-04-25 13:30

    Thank you for a great article and the letters from the 2 religious leaders. How do we fight this? Can we still take in children even if this is her unchristian, pathetic decree? If there is a hell?? she will be going there.

  10. Donald Pay 2021-04-25 14:38

    I enjoyed this article as much for the writing as the subject matter. I particularly liked that you linked Foreigner’s song, “I Want To Know What Love Is.” Foreigner is a group that has endured many new faces over 40 years, including actual foreigners. When you’re making music every voice matters. I had considered the song a seduction power ballad, but it can be interpreted otherwise, and why not as a Christian hymn?

  11. Arlo Blundt 2021-04-25 15:20

    well…We read that Jesus as an infant, Mary and Joseph were political refuges fleeing Judea during the reign of Herod the Great and, in the dark of night, fleeing to Egypt. (approximately 300 miles to the populated part of Egypt, we assume, quite a trip on foot. In fact, its the furthest Jesus ever traveled in his life.)It is not reported how long they spent in Egypt, but apparently, as the narrative doesn’t pick up until Jesus is at least 12, they stayed in Egypt for quite some time. They were apparently welcomed by the people of Egypt who, at that time, were a very diverse population. I think there is a lesson in this brief Biblical narrative for the Governor.

  12. mike from iowa 2021-04-25 15:30

    Foreigner’s video for the song has changed the love interest from the original guy to Lou Gramm in the remade video.

  13. Mark Anderson 2021-04-25 16:54

    Gosh, a politician using religion. Where have I heard that one before? She’s just a simple country girl, right?

  14. Gwen 2021-04-25 20:11

    Please let me site from the Merriam Webster Dictionary:
    Definition of hypocrite
    1: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
    2: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

  15. grudznick 2021-04-25 20:29

    Please let me cite the internets:

    noun area of ground on which a town, building, or monument is constructed.”the proposed site of a hydroelectric dam” Similar:
    2. a website or blogging place.
    “the site has no ads and is not being promoted with banners”

    fix or build (something) in a particular place.
    “the rectory is sited behind the church where the overgodders meet”

  16. T 2021-04-25 20:33

    CH lost me w “Christian” in the title and KN so I’ll c ya tomorrow evening . 👍

  17. Robert Kolbe 2021-04-25 22:13

    Even A Garden Nome knows
    ” Faith with out works is DEAD!”

  18. Yvonne 2021-04-25 23:51

    Realistically, there’s no such thing as a female gnome.
    Always turn to the text for guidance. Mathew 23:6 through 27 says it all. Blind leading the blind in so many ways. Pray for her, she needs help, spiritually.
    “For it, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Peter 2:20 – 22.

  19. Yvonne 2021-04-26 07:06

    Nice, Arlo. And he was rejected by the mass as well. No room at the Inn, so to speak and this rejection continued during his life time and still to this day.
    Government is delegated to manage the matters of the territories as God ordained. The problem, greed, bondage, self serving and self love…
    Sure, there’s problems with the mass of people coming over but that’s their job to do it right. They don’t know how cause they’re not in the right place and looking all in wrong place and to whom can really solve it because they’re blind and of the world. Many kings have fallen that God allowed to be in control. Past history always re surfaces. God puts them in control and God will remove them.

  20. V 2021-04-26 07:18

    Maybe Noem believes that she can preach Christianity because in her simple mind she has been ordained by God. You know, divine right and all that. She doesn’t have to listen to the people. She’s like Trump, who has been “chosen” to fight the evil libs.

    Onward Christian Soldiers

    Thanks for these 2 excellent letters which I will share with many people that would otherwise not see them.

  21. Scott 2021-04-26 07:38

    Normally I believe the church should stay out of politics. But when someone (Noem) keeps saying they are a Christian, and then say or act like Noem does, I think it is OK for the church to step into politics.

    Noem definitely does not meet my definition of a Christian.

  22. John Dale 2021-04-26 07:44

    I’m no Christian, but from the cheap seats here in Spearfish, this critique is a perversion of the religion, which also frowns upon suicide .. Trump’s handling of the border prevented more making the journey, which is a pregnancy factory for hapless children from South America.

    Anyone with any sense could see .. we do not need troops in the Middle East.

    We need them in Mexico (to start).

  23. o 2021-04-26 08:10

    John, you work under the premise that those not making the trip somehow were safe? it is not the journey that was the biggest danger; it was not the reception by the US that was the biggest danger; it was the conditions they lived in home nations.

    Your stay out-of-sight-out-of mind approach to the suffering of others ought to be the the crux of the immigration debate. Christian charity versus Rand selfishness.

  24. Paul 2021-04-26 12:59

    Hey Corey, thanks to my 12 years of Catholic schooling I have to point out that Jesus was arrested by Jewish authorities, namely the temple guards of the Sanhedrin, not Romans. There is a very strong parallel between the religiosity of the Sanhedrin and Pharisees and the modern Republican party. Hypocrites all.

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