BURNSVILLE, Minn. — A school bus driver was removed from his route last week for leading students in prayer and reportedly creating an environment forcing them to pray on his bus, which he disputes, the Star Tribune reports.

George Nathaniel works for Quality Care Transportation, and is also a pastor of a Minneapolis congregation, according to the newspaper. He started working for the company in January 2017, and began incorporating prayer into the nearly two-hour bus ride for students this winter. He told the Star Tribune that students volunteered to lead prayers.

However, Muk Musa, the owner of the company, told the newspaper that school officials received complaints that Nathaniel “was influencing minors to the point where he was forcing them to pray.” Musa added that he lets drivers take time for personal prayer, and that leading students in prayer is not a bus driver’s job. Nathaniel said he was shocked that parents complained, because he had discussed praying on the bus with them, he told the newspaper. He said that children need more prayer in their lives, and alleged that being taken off the route for leading students in prayer violates his constitutional rights to free speech and to practice his religion, the Star Tribune reports.

Nathaniel was reportedly fired from a job transporting students four years ago for the same reason, according to the newspaper. Although he hasn't been fired by Quality Care Transportation, Nathaniel also hasn't been assigned a new route.

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