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Jim Pillen elected governor of Nebraska

November 13, 2022

Jim Pillen has been elected as Nebraska’s 41st governor.
Republican Governer Jim Pillen’s policies are disastrous for the teen and young adult population of Nebraska. By neglecting transgender Nebraskans, campaigning to reinstitute prayer into schools and fighting to ban abortion, he will create detrimental effects for the future of Nebraska’s constituency and its economy.

Pillen ran on a platform that alienated the young population, campaigning to take away the rights of transgender Nebraskans, “[Putting] God back into schools” by teaching “Christian” values, banning statewide sex ed standards, ending abortion in the state–something most Nebraskans don’t support–and “[restoring] patriotic education” by banning Critical Race Theory. Pillen’s
policy “Playbook” is full of reactionary conservatism that will only harm Nebraska in a multitude of ways.

Pillen’s threat of “Putting God Back Into Schools,” as his policy playbook explains, is inflammatory at best, and outright unconstitutional at worst. He explains that the “erosion of Christian faith is hurting America… We need to put prayer back into K-12 schools.”

The First Amendment to the Constitution establishes the freedoms of speech, petition, assembly, press and religion. Pillen should know this, as his holy grail of the Second Amendment, the constitutional right to bear arms, appears just one line after the right to freedom of speech.

Pillen’s plan for reintegration of prayer into schools is vague – intentionally to gain the support of devout and extreme Christians in the state. But that doesn’t take away the harm that it could cause.
While the Supreme Court has not explicitly banned prayer in schools, it has repeatedly ruled against “state-sponsored” and “state-organized” prayer in schools, according to the Freedom Forum Institute. The Supreme Court has made it clear that prayer – even prayer “delivered” by a student – in public schools, violates Americans’ First Amendment rights.

Christians ought to be treated with the same respect by the state in the way which it treats other religions. But our state must separate itself from all religion, including the Christian church. The establishment of a state religion by our government would violate the civil liberties of its nearly two million citizens.

Forcing a Christian prayer upon students who do not have a say in whether they get to hear it or not, especially for students who are not Christian, imprints an idea of what is “correct” and “accepted” by society. But I am afraid that defining Christianity as “correct” outrightly is what the Republican party in Nebraska is fighting for.

Not only is Pillen planning to roll back Nebraskan’s First Amendment rights, but he plans to reject the rights of transgender Nebraskans as a whole. Pillen’s policy on transgender people is one rooted in bigotry and transphobia. One in five Gen Z Americans identify as LGBTQ+, according to a Gallup Poll, and 1.4% of Americans aged 13-17 identify as transgender.

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