A Minnesota school bus driver — who’s also a pastor at two Minneapolis churches — was fired from his bus-driving job last week for mixing up his two occupations. Needless to say, he believes that interfering with his evangelizing to a captive audience of children on a bus is a violation of his First Amendment rights.
George Nathaniel received a warning and was transferred to a different route after the bus company received complaints from the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage school district, but wasn’t going to let some stupid Constitution of the United States get in His Way: “I let them know I am a pastor and I am going to pray,” he said. Because he has a special duty to be a Christian pastor when he is driving a school bus full of Muslim children, don’t people understand that?
Nathaniel got his walking papers October 30 from Durham School Services after the district reported continued complaints. Nathaniel insists that the real victim is him, him, him: “To fire a bus driver for praying for the safety of the children” is not right,” he said. He also describes what a happy fun time the kids all had on the bus. He’d wait until the last child boarded, so everyone could get a full dose of Jesus on the 7-minute trip to school:
“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.”
See? Nothing forced about it — just a daily invitation to every single child to join in, and if kids who don’t pray get weird looks from their seatmates, they should just toughen up. And just because a significant number of families in the district are Muslim is no excuse either; if anything, it makes the job of a Christian pastor driving a bus even more important, because Christians are oppressed in this country. Nathaniel understands this, which is why he has prayed with all the other kids he drove when he was a school bus driver in Wisconsin and Georgia. He’s very worried about how Christians may actually be forced underground by all this discrimination:
“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.”
Fans of Matthew 6:6 — especially the King James Version — might point out that there’s some pretty good stuff in the New Testament about how you’re actually supposed to “enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret,” but that probably is only because Jesus didn’t know about school buses.