Creating Persecution: Bus Driver Pastor Fired for Praying with Students

The StarTribune is reporting that a Pastor loses bus driving job for praying with students in Burnsville, Minnesota. George Nathaniel, a bus driver and pastor, was fired for praying with students on his bus after being warned not to. When I read the story I thought – why create this kind of controversy or persecution?

Granted, the news report Mr. Nathaniel complained of persecution over his firing. Yet, this is certainly a controversy that could have been avoided.

The StarTribune reports the termination letter stated:

“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.”

The termination came after Nathaniel was previously warned about leading students in prayer. Though he was warned, he did not plan to stop the prayers.

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

Whether he is a pastor or not, he is a professing Christian so of course he is going to pray. But he did not have to pray with students after being warned. He could have explained to the students that while he is forbidden from praying with them any further, he will continue praying for them daily.

As noted in the StarTribune, Nathaniel the students he lead in prayer were a captive audience. They did not have a choice of whether or not they wanted to be present during the prayers. If the precedent were set that it is okay to make students listen to prayer, what happens when the next bus driver is a Muslim or a Mormon?

What lesson does this teach the students about Christianity? What kind of witness were the unbelieving students left with? Unfortunately, student interviews are not available to get their perspective. The example Nathaniel gave students is that it is okay for Christians to rebel against their employer over an issue that is not a matter of sin. That is, Scripture does not inform us that it is a sin not to pray in public (with those unwilling to pray or otherwise).

As a Christian, I am happy Mr. Nathaniel was bold enough to lead students in prayer and not shy about the Christian faith. However, he has now gotten himself removed from having any influence on the students involved. He also created an unnecessary Christian controversy.

There is enough real Christian persecution and controversy that we ought not attempt to create more.

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tagged as , , in Christianity,Culture,morality,politics,Prayer,theology

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