Minnesota school bus driver fired for praying with students
MINNESOTA — A school bus driver says he’s out of a job because he prayed with students on his bus.
George Nathaniel III 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.
The driver says children aboard his bus had a choice to engage in prayer or not.
“I ask the students would they like to pray and if they like to pray they can lead pray themselves and then I will pray,” Nathaniel said.
Nathaniel says 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 said they gave me a written warning that you cannot pray on the bus,” he said.
The company changed his bus route, and Nathaniel said he spoke with parents about his praying with kids on the bus.
“No parent complained to me personally so I just heard it from the district,” Nathaniel said.
“In terms of the First Amendment what he was doing violated the First Amendment in my opinion,” said Teresa Nelson, ACLU Legal Director.
Nelson says Nathaniel should not have been having prayer on a public school bus.
“The school bus is a captive audience 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,” she said.
“They are trying to take away every right the Christian has to express our Christian belief in this supposed to have been Christian nation,” Nathaniel said.
Nathaniel wants to fight for prayer on school buses but there are those who belief his fight will be in vain.
“He has First Amendment rights to pray he has a right to his own religion but there is no Constitutional right for school officials to pray with a captive audience of students,” Nelson said.
Durham School Services says 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.
Nathaniel is looking for other clergy to join his cause.