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MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis-area church pastor who also drives a school bus says his rights to free speech and to practice his religion were violated when he was taken off his route for leading students in prayer.

It is not the first time George Nathaniel, 54, has faced consequences for leading prayers. Nathaniel was fired from driving children to school in the town of Burnsville, Minn., four years ago for the same reason.

Quality Care Transportation removed Nathaniel from his route last week, the Star Tribune reported. He began working for the company in January 2017 and drove children to Nasha Shkola, a charter school in Brooklyn Park focused on Russian language and culture.

He started incorporating prayer into the bus ride this winter.

"The students would volunteer to lead the prayer," Nathaniel said.

Nathaniel said children need more pray in their lives and he's determined to bring prayer back to public schools.

School officials received complaints that Nathaniel was forcing minors to pray, said Muk Musa, owner of Quality Care. While bus drivers are given time for personal prayer, leading children isn't part of the job, he said.

Nathaniel said he wants to turn people to Christianity, but he never forced students to pray. He said he's shocked parents complained because he'd discussed the issue with them.

"That's where the Constitution comes in," Nathaniel said. "You've got the freedom to exercise your religious beliefs."

Nathaniel isn't fired but hasn't received a new route either, Musa said.

"He's not going to change," Musa said. "His main focus is to influence even one person in following what he worships."

Nathaniel is also a pastor of a Minneapolis congregation.

Nasha Shkola administrators didn't immediately respond to the newspaper's request for comment.

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  • gagewatcher
    April 20, 2018 at 3 p.m.

    well, since the charter school Nasha Shkola is one of the lowest rated preforming schools in the state. Maybe the bus driver was actually just praying for the poor students who are stuck in such a failing school. you get help where you can.

  • RobertBolt
    April 20, 2018 at 4:06 p.m.

    Let him go home and pray he is eligible for unemployment benefits.

  • rosj2002
    April 20, 2018 at 4:52 p.m.

    The post office is hiring

  • smmlv3
    April 20, 2018 at 5:23 p.m.

    The bus-driving minister overstepped his boundaries as a pubic school employee. As a born-again Christian I would love to see more parents take their children to church and also pray with them at home. However, there is a time and place for religious training. If the bus driver's own grandchildren were led in prayer on school property by a Muslim for instance, he would see that it is not okay.

  • MaxCady
    April 20, 2018 at 5:47 p.m.

    Couldn't they just tell him to stop? I guess they have a surplus of bus drivers. My wife, like a lot of other teachers, also drives a bus and they have a real hard time keeping drivers and finding subs.

  • mrcharles
    April 20, 2018 at 6:03 p.m.

    S m m. You may be right. Getting kids to pray the rosary and study that their is no salvstion outside the church is important. They will learn that in times of trouble mother Mary can comfort them.

  • Popsmith
    April 20, 2018 at 7:42 p.m.

    I suppose kids are supposed to be taught to only worship money and whatever they have between their legs.

    April 20, 2018 at 8:08 p.m.

    I think Pop has it about Right, Worship the Money for it is used mostly to buy the Other stuff he was talking about,

  • RobertBolt
    April 20, 2018 at 8:24 p.m.

    What kind of creeps who read a story about making kids pray on a school bus immediately focus on their genitalia? Potential youth ministers?

  • HenryP
    April 21, 2018 at 7:58 a.m.

    Muk Musa?