(Photo: YouTube screen grab)
Students at Rutgers University are rallying support to hire back a campus bus driver who was fired recently for praying and laying hands over a disabled student while others are speaking out against the school via social media sites in disappointment over his termination.
Stan McNeil made a video in response to a campus newspaper article that leaked information regarding his departure from his post, which was guaranteed to remain private, according to his former supervisor. In the video, McNeil says First Transit, the company that oversees Rutgers' bus services, told him that they would not fire him for the incident but rather gave him the option to voluntarily resign, which McNeil agreed to.
"I had no intention to leave, I was pulled into the office and was told that my services weren't needed anymore," said McNeil. "They told me that they didn't accept the fact that I prayed and laid hands on one of the students."
He continued, "I said, 'this lady is gonna get a miracle, she's gonna end up walking' and I still believe that. They said they didn't need my services but I wanted to say, 'you tell that to all them other students that got healed that I prayed for.'"
Following news of McNeil's case, students took to social media websites to voice their opinions about what many of them are referring to as an unfair termination.
"Boycott the buses. [Expletive] Rutgers' administration and their decisions to be politically correct," commented a student on YouTube.
Students also began a petition on Change.org because they speculate that the university added pressure on McNeil to resign. As of Thursday afternoon, the web page had garnered nearly 6,000 signatures calling for his reinstatement.
"Stan is a beacon of hope to all the passengers who ride his LX [bus]," wrote a student on the petition website. "I'm not religious, but the guy is an inspiration. It doesn't matter what kind of day I'm having when I see him, because I always walk off that bus feeling like a champion. He never pushed religion on anyone. Give the guy his job back."
Another student wrote, "I don't believe in God, but I believe in good intentions. You can use the sorry excuse of saying 'you cannot push the existence of God on a community' but you can't push the nonexistence of God either. Don't just sign a petition to bring Stan back, but also sign a petition to fire his boss."
In a statement released to The Christian Post, First Transit said they appreciated McNeil's rapport with students at the university and they respected his beliefs, however, they argue that his termination was about safety and not due to exposing his religious beliefs in the manner that he did.
"A full internal review revealed that Mr. McNeil failed to follow a critical safety protocol," said Stephanie Creech, a spokesperson for the company. "There are four points of restraint for safely securing a wheelchair on a bus. Mr. McNeil secured only two of them. First Transit's safety guidelines state that 'failure to properly secure wheelchairs or other mobility devices is identified as a safety offense appropriate for discharge.'"
In the past, McNiel's supervisor warned him not to talk about God while routing students throughout campus. However, over the course of two years while employed at the school, students began approaching McNeil for prayer and eventually the Rutgers community embraced him as the "motivational bus driver."
"I was there for the students that was my main reason," said McNeil in the video addressed to the students he served. "I want you to know that in no way did I brush anything aside, brush the students or my job aside. I want you guys to know I love you and I want you to know the truth and the truth is, I want to be there with you guys."
McNeil, a U.S. Navy veteran, drove the LX bus after retiring from 25 years as a Newark, N.J., firefighter and says that he is going to pray for another employement opportunity the same way that he prayed for his former position.