School bus driver George Nathaniel III fired for refusing to stop leading kids in prayer on bus

GeorgeNathanielIII.jpg
George Nathaniel III
George Nathaniel III is a pastor at two Minneapolis churches, Elite Church of the First Born and Grace Missionary Baptist Church. He was also a bus driver for Durham School Services, a company that provides busing services for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District.

SEE ALSO: "Jazz Man" bus driver transferred for giving out his phone number

But Nathaniel was fired from his bus driving gig late last month. The reason? Despite being warned, he refused to stop leading the kids riding his bus in prayer.

"I'm a preacher and that's what I do," Nathaniel told WCCO. "I ask the students 'would they like to pray?' and if they like to pray then they can [pray] themselves and then I will pray."

Though Nathaniel says no parents complained to him, the district contacted Durham School Services and told them to get Nathaniel to stop it. But he wouldn't, and so on October 30, Durham sent him this letter:
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 argues that being fired for praying for the safety and well-being of the kids riding his bus is wrong. Channeling Bradlee Dean, he told 'CCO, "They are trying to take away every right the Christian has to express our Christian belief in this supposed-to-have-been Christian nation."

Though some employment law experts think Nathaniel might actually have a case -- after all, he wasn't forcing anyone to pray -- Teresa Nelson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, told the Star Tribune his conduct was unconstitutional.

"The school bus driver has the right to pray on his own time, but when he has a captive audience of kids on a school bus, that would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment," she said.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.

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45 comments
Twinb1953
Twinb1953

A bus driver should not be doing anything except driving the bus.  He cannot be totally focused on driving if he is praying with the children.  My issue has nothing to do with prayer.  It has to do with people driving today who sing, text, put on mascara, smoke, and everything else I see them doing while driving.  Pay attention to the road and keep the children safe. 

Rick Miller
Rick Miller

You were hired to be a bus driver; not a preacher Just shut up and drive the damn bus

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

People like this are just rude.  Not to mention self-centered in the extreme.  No wonder people hate Evangelists.

Chris Beattie
Chris Beattie

He should go preach in church then..nobody wants their kids subjected to this crap.

Ran Dazzle
Ran Dazzle

preacher? preacher of hate probably..so get you a church and preach there and nowhere else

wyo_native
wyo_native

Say the national anthem and sing the pledge of allegiance? Really, no difference right?

If he was allowed to continue, then equal time must be granted to those with different religious beliefs. All on publicly funded transportation, to minors.

Jennifer Beth Mykleby
Jennifer Beth Mykleby

you know it's stuff like this and the out right ignorance and bigot and there crooked panhandling and sticking there business where it don't belong is the very reason religion is wearing it's use and welcome and people are running away from churches..

scott.charles.shelby
scott.charles.shelby

when was the last time u said the national anthem ,  "One nation under god"  That was in school if u didnt say the national anthem u were not american u were against but the seperation of chruch  and state is not there.  Look at Utah where are their government offices.  In the Mormon Temple.  If hes not foprcing anyone to do anything then whats the problem.  Adults and kids have their free will.  I am not religious at all, so if my kids were on a bus like that , unless they were forced beyond their will to pray, its not worth my time. Some people just get angry about things that do not involve them rather than letting it go they leave comments like some of u have .  Remember this is MN not the south. 

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

Good, this kind of blatant indoctrination is why the constitution was written in the first place. If I had a kid on that bus I would be furious.

Brent Colquhoun
Brent Colquhoun

There is a time and place for what he does.... Sunday mornings @ some place of assembly comes to mind..... then only those who choose to be subjected to it, are those enlightened by this "preacher" and everyone else can have their freedom of religion or the choice not to !

Todd Ellenson
Todd Ellenson

Whoa whoa.. Hold up, no one is taking away a right for anyone to express their belief and since when was this supposed to have been a Christian nation. Those are ridiculous comments! "They are trying to take away every right the Christian has to express our Christian belief in this supposed-to-have-been Christian nation."

barbertj23
barbertj23

Was asked to stop, or be relieved of his job.

Didn't stop.

Relieved of job.

Therefore: Victim of discrimination against the majority religious sentiment in the U.S.

Sure, that sounds like solid rational thought.

Mary Karius
Mary Karius

nothing worse than a self-righteous christian that doesn't have to follow the rules

HyperboleJoe
HyperboleJoe

@Queso Un Pantallones Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion often butt heads. As she said, he had a captive group of listeners who, even if they didn't want to partake, were subjected to his prayers and couldn't get off the bus.

Onan
Onan

@scott.charles.shelby  - ""One nation under god"

That bit was added in the 1950's because of the "red-scare"...

Also, they were in a confined location (bus), minors, and during publicly-funded school time, so...

qwertyuiop
qwertyuiop

@barbertj23 Yeah. School districts (all public funded operations really) should just write these constitutional stipulations into the job description if they don't already. Then when someone wants to do something like this, they're also violating the terms of their contract. No need to waste tax money on silly court hearings to determine if the first amendment applied.

scott.charles.shelby
scott.charles.shelby

@Christine Bellfield  i dont think crazy but i agree just do the job and dont make waves

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

The author loves to racebait, it's a great platform for click generation. In any other scenario, CP staff would shed Christianity in public schools/gov in a negative light, just as they've always done. Because this guy is black, they give him a platform. The true racists are people that support double standards for different folks.

msummers5
msummers5

@scott.charles.shelby Actually, there is no mention of god in the first verse of the US national anthem (the one everyone knows).  God doesn't show up until the fourth verse.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@qwertyuiop  I suppose you're right, in a way.  This kind of issue has been decided over and over and over again, always in the same way.  Even a very religious and right-wing Supreme Court has always concluded, however unhappily, that you can't push your religion on other people via a public resource.  Public funded operations shouldn't have to say this over and over and over again, but apparently some people are so filled with their own sense of self-righteousness and entitlement that maybe they do have to put it in everyone's contract.

Arkadi
Arkadi

@mingtran "The author loves to racebait", mingtran said in reference to the article that mentioned race exactly zero times.

Onan
Onan

  - Or, this story was being run by several local TV stations as well as local newspapers and this news blog is just disseminating the information...

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@scott.charles.shelby  The "Under God" part was added to the Pledge of Allegiance; not the National Anthem.  And it was added as the result of a heavy lobbying effort by the Knights of Columbus in the 1950s, as a way to use the Red Scare and McCarthyism to advance their Catholic agenda.

barbertj23
barbertj23

@scott.charles.shelby 

Furthermore, God is not strictly a Christian principle. Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, Greek Pantheons, Native American, Indian religions, etc all have a god or gods.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

This is a big people conversation. Read my expert analysis again and maybe you'll get it.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

Come back with something instead of admitting defeat with a stupid insult. At the very least, make the insult creative. What a pussy.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

Hey! Good one!

HyperboleJoe
HyperboleJoe

@mingtran It's odd that they haven't picked up the story about what a complete sham you are. Hopefully tomorrow they'll run that one.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

So why pick this story to showcase out of myriad other more relevant story options that happen in MN on a daily? For instance, not once have they talked about healthcare here in MN since Obamacare has been exposed as a complete sham. That's real news that other local stations cover.

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