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schoolbus50
Active Member

USA
29 Posts

Posted - 11/10/2013 :  3:16:16 PM  Show Profile  Visit schoolbus50's Homepage  Reply with Quote
What do you think?

A bus driver for the Burnsville school district was fired last week for leading kids in Christian prayers on his bus, even after he was warned to stop — a move he considers a violation of his freedom of speech.

George Nathaniel, 49, of Richfield, who is also a pastor for a pair of Minneapolis churches, was in his second year as a school bus driver for a company under contract to the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district.

After receiving a complaint from the district about the prayers, the bus company, Durham School Services, gave Nathaniel a warning and assigned him two new bus routes serving Edward D. Neill Elementary School and Metcalf Junior High School in Burnsville, he said.

That didn’t dissuade Nathaniel. “I let them know I am a pastor and I am going to pray,” he said.

When Nathaniel continued to lead prayers on his new routes, Durham sent him a separation letter dated Oct. 30, saying: “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.”

In a 1962 case, the Supreme Court ruled that it’s unconstitutional for public schools to encourage or lead students in prayer, and a series of court decisions since then have upheld and broadened the ban on school prayer to include prayers led by any representative of a school. In 2000, the court found that even student-led prayers over the school loudspeakers would be unconstitutional.

School prayer, courts have found, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which says the government may not establish an official religion.

Nathaniel nevertheless says he wasn’t doing the children any harm. “To fire a bus driver for praying for the safety of the children” is not right, he said.

Durham spokeswoman Molly Hart said that “the company does not have a specific policy on the subject of prayer.”

The district’s contract with the bus company allows for the schools to have an employee of the bus company removed if it deems that person unsuitable for the job.

‘Captive audience’

Nathaniel prayed during the seven-minute ride to school after the last child got on board.

“We start out with a song,” he said. “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.”

Nathaniel said that he’s a pastor at the Elite Church of the First Born and for Grace Missionary Baptist Church, both in Minneapolis, and that he prayed on the route all last year, as well.

Ruth Dunn, communications director for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District, declined to comment on the prayers but said, “We do consider the school bus to be an extension of the school day when it pertains to student behavior and support.”

Teresa Nelson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, said “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.”

The law has tried to balance employees’ rights to express religious beliefs and the rights of others to be free from the imposition of those beliefs, said Marshall Tanick, a Twin Cities-based employment lawyer.

Nathaniel has the right to express his beliefs, as long as they aren’t forced upon others or disruptive, he said.

“This would seem to cross the borderline” because he’s an authority and his behavior could be seen as coercive because it’s with students, Tanick said. “This area is a somewhat muddled, gray area, and far from clear cut.”

Diverse district

Gayla Colin, a bus driver for 13 years in the district, says she “absolutely” sees her time on the bus with kids as an extension of the school day. She said that though she is a Christian, she would never think of praying on the bus. “It’s not appropriate,” she said. “That belongs at home, the teachings.”

The district is diverse, and some bus routes are made up primarily of Muslim students, Colin said.

Sanaa Hersi, whose family is Muslim, has a child that rides the bus home from Neill Elementary and said she would be concerned about prayer on the bus without parents knowing. “That would confuse the kids because we teach them to pray in the Islam way,” Hersi said.

But Nikki Williams, whose three children also ride the bus to and from Neill Elementary, said “it wouldn’t bother me at all” if a bus driver prayed with students.

“I think if someone is praying, they can either be included in it or not,” Williams said. “If they don’t like it, they can just ignore it.”

Nathaniel said he talked to parents as he saw them at bus stops, let them know he was a pastor and asked if it would be OK for him to pray with the kids on the bus. “The parents I talked with, they were in agreement that I was doing fine,” he said.

Nathaniel said that he had driven school buses in Wisconsin and Georgia before coming to Minnesota and that he had always prayed with the kids.

“We got to get Christians to be able to be Christians and not have to be closet Christians,” he said. “You have something good, you are going to share it with somebody.”

Peter
Top Member

USA
1055 Posts

Posted - 11/10/2013 :  8:25:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
What would George Nathaniel say if his Muslim coworker were doing the same thing?

Spicer is nicer.
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BusCave
Active Member

18 Posts

Posted - 11/11/2013 :  06:11:35 AM  Show Profile  Visit BusCave's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I say good riddance. If you want bus full of praying children, drive a church bus.
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schoolbus50
Active Member

USA
29 Posts

Posted - 11/12/2013 :  5:15:05 PM  Show Profile  Visit schoolbus50's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Here is a link to a WCCO TV story on George Nathaniel the praying bus driver. The building you see in the background is WCCO TV.

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/11/06/bus-driver-fired-for-praying-with-student-passengers/

Edited by - schoolbus50 on 11/17/2013 4:00:57 PM
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CharlieFoxtrot
New Member

9 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2013 :  11:58:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit CharlieFoxtrot's Homepage  Reply with Quote
It doesn't matter if he thinks it is right to pray or wrong that he got fired. (it also doesn't matter what I think. Facts are facts.)

First, as explained in the article, it has been clearly determined over and over that the Constitution does not support any official involvement in school prayer. That seems pretty likely to include school _bus_ prayer when led by the driver.

Second, the Constitution does not say your employer (he works for a bus contractor) may not infringe on your right to free speech. Your employer can tell you to shut up whenever it wants, about whatever it wants. And if you don't, it can fire you.

Sounds like George needs to use his newfound free time studying civics.

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bwest
Administrator

United States
2295 Posts

Posted - 11/16/2013 :  7:49:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by CharlieFoxtrot

It doesn't matter if he thinks it is right to pray or wrong that he got fired. (it also doesn't matter what I think. Facts are facts.)

First, as explained in the article, it has been clearly determined over and over that the Constitution does not support any official involvement in school prayer. That seems pretty likely to include school _bus_ prayer when led by the driver.

Second, the Constitution does not say your employer (he works for a bus contractor) may not infringe on your right to free speech. Your employer can tell you to shut up whenever it wants, about whatever it wants. And if you don't, it can fire you.

Sounds like George needs to use his newfound free time studying civics.





He needs to do what his employer asks. That being said, we didn't start having all this trouble with shooting in schools, sexually abusive teachers, etc. until prayer was taken out of schools.

By the way, the constitution clearly states "congress shall make no law establishing a religion". This was a reaction to the church that was forced upon the colonists by mother Britain. There were also instances of colonial governments "establishing" a state sanctioned religion. Congress is not establishing a religion when a bus driver prays.

I know the driver will never read the, but "consider it pure joy" my brother.

Just my two cents.

Bryan
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schoolbus50
Active Member

USA
29 Posts

Posted - 11/17/2013 :  4:05:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit schoolbus50's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Here is a updated link to a WCCO TV story on George Nathaniel the praying bus driver. The building you see in the background is WCCO TV.

http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/11/06/bus-driver-fired-for-praying-with-student-passengers/
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BusCave
Active Member

18 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2013 :  06:27:33 AM  Show Profile  Visit BusCave's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Not forcing children to pray is not the same as removing prayer from schools. Every child on that bus and every child in that school is free to pray to whatever god they like.

Edited by - BusCave on 11/18/2013 06:27:55 AM
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2295 Posts

Posted - 11/18/2013 :  11:16:57 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BusCave

Not forcing children to pray is not the same as removing prayer from schools. Every child on that bus and every child in that school is free to pray to whatever god they like.



No one has ever said this man "forced" these kids to pray. In fact he indicated that he has ask the parents and the kids if they wanted to do it and furthermore if a particular child on a particular day didn't want to do it they moved on to the next kid. It sounded like a group thing. There are worse things for a driver to be teaching the kids. lol

Bryan
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misterbill
Advanced Member

United States
303 Posts

Posted - 11/25/2013 :  09:32:04 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I wake up in the morning and think about how I want coffee, and what am I going to wear today, and what am I going to do. I am thinking of one thing. Me. Not necessarily a bad thing.

I wonder about the motive of his heart-and I cannot judge that, except that the Bible says that our hearts are evil beyond measure. I am always asking my wife things like "couldn't we give our old hay from last year to the woman who runs the horse program for handicapped kids that I met at the LaCross game?" It took me quite some time to realize that I want to do that to make ME look good, which is a completely horrible motive for doing anything.

Seems kind of inappropriate to me. If he wants to pray with the kids then have them come to his Sunday School. Not going to get anywhere by doing things no one wants you to do.



High School Friend-"Hey! How are you! Well, I guess you can't be doing too well, you're driving a school bus."

Edited by - misterbill on 11/25/2013 09:43:43 AM
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bwest
Administrator

United States
2295 Posts

Posted - 11/25/2013 :  2:36:16 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'm not going to get into a philosophical discussion with you, misterbill. But, if you think back to a simpler time when there were no buses, cars, trains, or schools with thousands of head of students (and that is how they are thought of by our government, "head of")people prayed all the time and it wasn't viewed as a bad thing. Out of this came people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ford, Westinghouse, and on and on. So, was/ is praying a bad thing? Just a question.

Bryan
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misterbill
Advanced Member

United States
303 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2013 :  7:52:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't think that prayer is really the issue here.

I knew someone who was campaining for missionary support. His car broke down in Jersey City, I'm sure they didn't have any money. The husband stormed up and down the sidewalk swearing(I can relate to that, that is how I usually cope with trials), his wife took his kids hands and held them and prayed and a mechanic came out of a garage and fixed their car. The husband went from church to church and stood up in the pulpit telling how when the car broke down he took his wife and childrens hands and prayed and a mechanic came out and fixed their car.

Two women that I know saw a man walk into Kmart and were shocked. The man had been coming to church in a wheelchair for several months. One day in the middle of the service the man stood up out of his wheelchair. The women tried to talk to the Pastor about it and were strongly rebuked, because God had done something great and they were committing some great sin by saying this.

These are well meaning people that let their pride get in the way of the truth.

When I hear that someone was told not to do something, and they do it anyway and get fired, then get the media involved and get on the internet and LOOK at what THEY did to ME and make a big stink about it, thats when I see red flags going up.

High School Friend-"Hey! How are you! Well, I guess you can't be doing too well, you're driving a school bus."
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