A Christian bus driver has been removed from his bus route after leading a prayer for some of his student passengers.
The Minnesota school bus driver, who also happens to be a pastor of a church, was taken off his route because he led a small group of students in prayer while driving his route. Pastor George Nathaniel, a 54-year-old bus driver for a Brooklyn Park charter school, wasn't actually fired, but the Star Tribune reported that his employer, Quality Care Transportation, has not only taken him off his regular route, but has also refused to provide him with a new route so far as well.
Reports have stated that Pastor Nathaniel was fired from his previous driving job four years ago as well after a similar incident when he led Burnsville students in a prayer.
Nathaniel has defended his actions, saying there's nothing wrong with speaking and practicing his faith.
"You've got the freedom to exercise your religious beliefs," he said.
His employer, Muk Musa from Quality Care Transportation, said that they removed Nathaniel from his route because they had received complaints that he "was influencing minors to the point where he was forcing them to pray."
"He's not going to change. His main focus is to influence even one person in following what he worships," said Musa.
The passengers on his bus were reportedly mostly Russian and Christian students, and Nathaniel claims it was the students themselves who would "volunteer" to lead the prayer, and he never forced anyone to pray or convert to Christianity.
"As a Christian, of course I want kids to know more about Jesus, but I don't want kids or parents to be pushed," he said.
Many Christians in the United States have increasingly complained that they feel Christianity is under attack in society. In 2017, atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation demanded that LaPoynor High School in East Texas remove a Christian flag.
They argued that the flying of a Christian flag was considered a school endorsement of Christianity, which they claimed would be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In response, students brought their own Christian flags to fly on school grounds.