MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A local pastor who worked as a bus driver said he was fired because he prayed with students on his bus.
George Nathaniel III said children aboard his bus had a choice to engage in prayer or not.
However, after a warning from the company that hired him, he was terminated last week.
“I’m a preacher and that’s what I do,” Nathaniel said.
Nathaniel’s is a pastor of a church in Minneapolis, as well as a bus driver for Durham School Services.
He lost his job as a bus driver last week over complaints of religious materials on the bus.
“I ask the students would they like to pray and if they like to pray then they can lead pray themselves and then I will pray,” he said.
Nathaniel said never was anyone forced to do anything against their will.
“A couple of routes I had children that chose not to pray and that was fine,” he said.
Nathaniel admits he was told by the bus company to stop what he was doing.
“The company gave me a written warning that you cannot pray on the bus,” he said. “No parent complained to me, personally, so I just heard it from the district.”
ACLU legal director Teresa Nelson said he was violating the First Amendment in her opinion, adding that Nathaniel should not have been having prayer on a public school bus.
“The school bus is a captive audience,” she said. “When he is driving the bus he is acting like a school official and he does not have the right to proselytize or promote religion in that context.”
Nathaniel said he wants to fight for prayer on school buses.
“They are trying to take away every right the Christian has to express our Christian belief in this supposed to have been Christian nation,” he said.
But there are those who belief his fight will be in vain.
“He has First Amendment rights to pray,” Nelson said. “He’s got a right to his own religion, but there is no constitutional right for school officials to pray with a captive audience of students.”
Durham School Services said it is company policy not to discuss individual employment decisions in the media, but added the company does not have a specific policy on the subject of prayer.
Nathanial is looking for other clergy to join his cause.