The South Dakota Coalition of Reason are rallying at the South Dakota Capitol today to promote the rights of non-theistic South Dakotans (yes, we exist!).
"Secular South Dakotans," says the SDCoR announcement, "seek representation in the state legislature and hold that legislators have a duty to uphold the Constitution and keep laws free from religious doctrine and influence."
At 1:00 p.m., these brave souls with gather under the dome to recite the Pledge of Allegiance without the 1954 anti-Communist "under God" amendment. (If we're lucky, they will also recite it without the unnecessary pauses and make it sound like a real sentence.)
My reasonable friends pledge amidst various expressions of pledge mania among our legislators. As promised, Rep. Hal Wick has brought House Bill 1150, yet another example of how the Republican-Taliban urge for total mind control always trumps their principles of local control. HB 1150 requires every K-12 student in South Dakota to either say the pledge each day in school or maintain a respectful silence while everyone else says it. Wick's bill fails to specify what criminal penalties students will face for doing anything else during the daily patriotism exercise or whether they can omit the unconstitutional affirmation of the existence of God. Nonetheless, legislators are falling all over themselves to co-sponsor this bill and run themselves up the flagpole with Wick.
Also floating around the Legislature is House Concurrent Resolution 1006, which celebrates the 60th anniversary of the addition of that offending phrase to the Pledge. HCR 1006 declares that "freedom is defined by a fundamental belief in God." No, guys. Not really. I'm an atheist. I believe in freedom. And I'm committed to freedom—or, more accurately, the liberty and justice that we say in the pledge—for all South Dakotans, more so than a lot of God-fearing Republicans.
HCR 1006 declares that "it is the policy of this Legislature to recognize and honor such an important date which strengthens the ties of history that bind us to our belief in God." The House voted unanimously in support of that statement, whose phrase "our belief" evidently means that the South Dakota Legislature, as an official government body, vested with authority by all people of all faiths in South Dakota, believes in the Christian God.
Freethinkers, rationalists, and other enemies of theocracy meet at the Capitol Lake Visitors Center at 12:30 p.m. today. Friends, you'll be in my pra— um... Godspe— um... hey! You know what I mean! Go get 'em!