A Christian bus driver in Minnesota who always prays for the kids he drives to school every day has been fired for refusing to stop.
According to local reports, 49-year old George Nathaniel III, who is also a pastor for two churches in Minneapolis, was warned to stop praying for students by the bus company under contract to the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district. The company, Durham School Services, claimed to have received complaints from parents of the kids over the matter, and had transferred Nathaniel to two new bus routes serving Edward D. Neill Elementary School and Metcalf Junior High School in Burnsville.
But that didn’t stop the bus driver/pastor from praying for the kids, as he did not understand what was wrong with praying for the safety of the children he conveys to school.
Then on October 30, Durham sent him a letter which read, ‘There have been more complaints of religious material on the bus as well as other complaints regarding performance. In accordance with the previous final written warning you received, your employment is hereby terminated.’
Nathaniel says his sack is a blatant violation of his freedom of speech, contending that ‘To fire a bus driver for praying for the safety of the children’ is just not right.
‘I let them know I am a pastor and I am going to pray,’ Nathaniel said. ‘We start out with a song. Then each person will pray if they want to pray. If they don’t want to pray, they don’t have to pray. Then I will pray and ask them if they want to join me in prayer. Just give them something constructive and positive to go to school with.’
Now this might shock you: In the USA, it is ‘unconstitutional’ to pray in public schools, or for any school representative to encourage, or lead students in prayers. This is because doing so will violate the so-called Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which forbids the government from establishing an official religion.
This law also means that it is unconstitutional for even a student to lead others in prayers.
And as for why he always prays for the kids, Nathaniel said that apart from the safety aspect, ‘We got to get Christians to be able to be Christians and not have to be closet Christians. You have something good, you are going to share it with somebody.’
Nathaniel also said he talked with some of the parents of the kids he meets at bus stops, let them know he is a pastor and asks for their permission to pray for their kids. ‘The parents I talked with, they were in agreement that I was doing fine,’ he said.
[Photo via Daily Mail]