A Minnesota school bus driver warned to stop praying with students on the bus was fired after he continued to do so.
George Nathaniel III, a pastor at a Minneapolis church, worked for Durham School Services. He said that no one on the bus was forced to pray, Fox 8 reported,
and several times children didn’t, which was fine.
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“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, according to Fox 8.
Nathaniel said the company, which told the media they don’t have policies on prayer, told him to stop and also changed his route. He said he talked to parents about praying on the bus and that “no parent complained to me personally.”
The hot-button issue of prayer in school settings brought many comments online.
“If you can't follow orders from your employer you need to go,” wrote Jean Emmons on an Associated Press article posted by The Gazette.
“It would be different if he had gone over a cliff and rolled the bus and placed the students' lives in danger. Then he should have been praying.”
Joyce Thompson wrote on the same article, “NO, he shouldn't have been fired. I think prayer is good, no matter where you are.”
Fox 8 reported that Nathaniel said he would like to fight for the right to pray on buses and hopes other clergy will back him.
ACLU Legal Director Teresa Nelson said Nathaniel violated the First Amendment.
“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, according to Fox 8. “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.”
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