Minneapolis School Bus Driver Fired for Praying With Passengers

School BusMINNEAPOLIS —  A pastor who works as a school bus driver during the week recently lost his job for praying with the children who ride his bus.

George Nathaniel, 49, is the pastor of both the Elite Church of the First Born and Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He has worked for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District for the past two years, and was hired by Durham School Services, which provides the drivers for the district.

As Nathaniel is a Christian, he says that he likes to give the opportunity for students to sing and pray to start off their day on a positive note.

“We start out with a song,” he told the StarTribune. “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.”

However, when an unidentified individual recently complained about Nathaniel’s prayers, Durham School Services issued him a warning and placed the pastor on a different route.

Nonetheless, the situation did not detour Nathaniel.

“I let them know I am a pastor and I am going to pray,” he said.

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So, when it was discovered that Nathaniel was praying with the children who rode his new route, he was fired.

“There have been more complaints of religious material on the bus as well as other complaints regarding performance,” a letter from his employer read. “In accordance with the previous final written warning you received, your employment is hereby terminated.”

But Nathaniel says that his termination is unjust.

“To fire a bus driver for praying for the safety of the children [is wrong],” he told the StarTribune.

He said that as a Christian, he doesn’t feel that he needs to keep his faith in the closet.

“We got to get Christians to be able to be Christians and not have to be closet Christians,” Nathaniel told the publication. “You have something good; you are going to share it with somebody.”

Reaction to Nathaniel’s firing has been mixed.

“The school was correct in their termination as that man was forcing his opinion upon a group of children without the permission of the children’s parents,” one commenter wrote. “He was hired to drive a school bus. His job requires him to see to their safety, not to be a youth minister for his religion.”

“[T]his is not a violation of Church and State because the bus company is a private employer, not the school system,” another noted. “Can we say that a child is being abused [at school] because they are forced to learn about other religions and views, including evolution, the big bang theory, Muslims, Buddhism, Scientology, etc. because it’s part of the school’s curriculum regardless of the child’s (family’s) religion?”

Durham Services would not comment to reporters about the matter, but advised that it does not have a policy in regard to prayer.

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  • Say Amen Sombody

    “He was hired to drive a school bus. His job requires him to see to their safety…”

    Prayer is the first thing that keeps a bus safe. It most likely sets a standard that prevents bullying. Who knows what unseen dangers have been avoided because of the drivers prayers.

    With the shootings and other tragic events that are happening in our schools, parents should welcome someone who can start that day with something positive and encouraging. You never know what trouble or tragic event it may prevent.

    • Sandra West


      • That is exactly what schools need is prayer,there is no wrong in it,only good.And this nation should be waking up the problems that we are now facing.And it will only get worse when you have people that discriminate against christians and think its ok to promote gays and carnal ways of thinking.That is why this nation will have the wrath of God against it.

  • Linda

    Yet, if something tragic happened to the the bus/school with the children in them, like it happened with Sandy Hook or the Twin Towers, a ‘moment of silence’ is allowed. That gives way for both those who believe and those who don’t. This is exactly what this Pastor was doing. But b/c he’s a pastor, he was persecuted. You see how things are going in this nation? Do you think that it just might be BECAUSE we don’t allow God and prayer in our country? Of course it is, whether ‘some people’ want to admit it or not.

    The next time our children are forced to be an audience for any muslim/islam CRAP, and it is CRAP!, then we all know what to do!! Don’t even hesitate!

    Pastor Nathanial, thank you for standing up for Jesus Christ and giving those children a safe start, not only to their day, but possibly their life! God will find you another job. God bless!

  • EuphoriCrest

    A bus driver needs to devote all his attention to driving. Singing and leading a prayer service is as bad as talking on a cell phone while driving. The students are fortunate he was fired before his inattentive driving caused an accident.

    • who and where does it says that he was driving while praying.Wake up and start praying that God does not has his wrath against you.

  • Roald

    If you want a simple test for propriety, think what would you have said if the driver had been an imam and he was urging his impressionable passengers to engage in the fajr prayer? Be honest.

  • Anthony

    @ chad walker, of course why would Born Again Christians Including my self that believe in the One True God, The Father, The Son, The Holy Ghost, want any false religion or false God to be taught to children or anyone for that matter; false religions such as Muslims, Jehovah witness, Buddhist, marry worshipers, hinduism, Mormons, ect…

  • Anthony

    @ chad walker, The USA was founded on Christian beliefs but sadly America has astray ed from the Christian beliefs, so when Born Again Christians share the good news, The gospel of Jesus Christ I say God Bless that person or persons, this country was never founded on any other beliefs but The Christian faith..

  • We need more prayer in AMERICA.IN GOD WE TRUST.JESUS IS LORD

  • Roald

    @Anthony. This country was not founded on Christian beliefs. It was founded by people who saw the injustices of a nation with a state religion and were determined to keep them separate, allowing individuals to follow whatever religion they chose(or none) and blocking the state from endorsing one.

    Are you willing to walk a mile in the shoes of another? If so, walk one, two if needed, in the shoes of a non-Christian parent whose children are forced to listen to Christian prayers and encouraged to follow a religion other than their family’s.

  • Michael J. Weed

    If he prayed out loud in Jesus’ name, then he should be fired.

    If he used a generic term such as God, then who would care.

    Since someone cared it is obvious he was pushing his beliefs on others by using Jesus’ name.

  • Reinhold

    They dnt know what their doing.it was blessing to have some one who prayer with kid just to start a day .with god spirit which guide them. Pastor just pray for them forgive them.