Christian Coach Sues Over Dismissal by Muslim Principal

by | Jul 30, 2009 | Charisma Archive

A veteran high school coach in Michigan has filed a federal lawsuit claiming he was fired by a Muslim principal because of his Christian faith and his association with a Pentecostal minister who helped lead a Muslim student to Christ.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Gerald Marszalek, a  wrestling coach for 35 years at Fordson High School in Dearborn, accused Dearborn schools and Fordson Principal Imad Fadlallah of violating his constitutional rights to free speech and exercise of religion, as well as Michigan laws against religious discrimination.

Attorneys from the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing Marszalek, claim the coach’s contract was not renewed last year because of his association with an Assemblies of God pastor known for evangelizing the area’s large Muslim community.

“We are getting a glimpse of what happens when Muslims who refuse to accept American values and principles gain political power in an American community,” said Richard Thompson, Thomas More president and chief counsel. “Failure to renew coach Marszalek’s contract had nothing to do with wrestling and everything to do with religion.”

According to the lawsuit, in 2005 Trey Hancock, pastor of Dearborn Assembly of God and a volunteer assistant wrestling coach, baptized a Muslim student who accepted Christ during a summer wrestling camp not affiliated with the school.

It claims that after Fadlallah learned of the student’s conversion, he ordered that Hancock be removed as an assistant coach and later told Marszalek to keep him away from wrestling practices and events. Marszalek says it was impossible to keep Hancock away from the school because his son was a student and a member of the wrestling team.

The lawsuit says Fadlallah accused Hancock of wanting to evangelize at the school, where 80 percent of students are of Arab descent and many are Muslim.

Hancock told the Detroit Free Press last year that he never mixed his faith with sports. Thomas More attorneys said the student Hancock baptized is a friend of his son’s who had been attending Dearborn Assembly for two years before he embraced Christianity.

Marszalek also said Hancock never used his assistant coaching position to proselytize. “He knew the difference between church and state, ” Marszalek told the Free Press last year.

Marszalek’s lawsuit claims Fadlallah has repeatedly given preference to Islamic practices, allowing Muslim student athletes to recite Muslim prayers before, during and after school-sanctioned athletic events. The suit also alleges that Fadlallah hit the student who converted to Christianity and told him he had disgraced his family.

The Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education found Fadlallah, who is Fordson’s first Muslim principal, innocent of that charge in late May.

According to Arab-American News, Fadlallah’s supporters blame the controversy on a few Fordson staff members who want him to leave the school and “an outside group of Christian evangelizers who proudly boast about converting Muslim students.”

Thomas More attorney and spokesman Brian Rooney said the school board exonerated Fadlallah because some witnesses changed their stories. He said his firm has witnesses who are willing to testify that they saw Fadlallah hit the student.

We feel very confident that this in fact did happen,” Rooney said. “A lot of pressure was brought to bear on this boy.”

Dearborn’s Muslim community has accused Hancock, who is listed as a home missionary for “intercultural ministries” by the Assemblies of God Michigan District, of targeting youth with overzealous evangelism tactics.

In 2007 a Muslim father filed a lawsuit claiming the Michigan Department of Human Services and Hancock’s church were conspiring to keep his 13-year-old daughter from practicing Islam.

Hancock said the dispute was part of a larger custody battle in a divorce case in which the girl’s mother came to the church complaining that her husband abused her. He said the situation had nothing to do with the wrestling team or the school.

Rooney said Marszalek’s case highlights a double standard regarding Islam that is growing more common nationwide.

“With Christianity you have this sense that there’s the separation of church and state,” Rooney told Charisma. “But when it comes to Islam the notion is this isn’t necessarily the separation of church and state because we want to encourage inclusion and multiculturalism. That’s a double standard. If you’re going to hold Christians’ feet to the fire, you should hold everyone’s feet to the fire.”

Marszalek is seeking his back pay, injunctive and declaratory relief, damages and to be reinstated as coach of the wrestling team.


Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


Raise Your Praise!

Raise Your Praise!

These are the days that may leave you feeling defeated. You may be wondering when these present trials will end or how can you strengthen your faith for the battle as you wrestle against powers and principalities that come against you, in addition to the challenges...

7 Elements Needed for Revival That Will Usher in Reformation

7 Elements Needed for Revival That Will Usher in Reformation

Read Time: 1 Minute 9 Seconds What will turn the nations around? What will restore the world to sanity? There have been revivals from Old Testament times up through the year 2000. Today we need both a revival and a reformation. Here are 7 elements needed to usher in...

Messianic Rabbi: The Blessing of Esau Brings Freedom

Messianic Rabbi: The Blessing of Esau Brings Freedom

Read Time: 4 Minutes 55 Seconds Growing up in synagogue, I was taught about the heroes of the Bible: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon and Samson. When I became a believer in Yeshua, the writings of the New Testament new heroes were added to the...

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Mario Murillo: An Era of Mass Soul Winning Has Begun

Read Time: 4 Minutes, 27 Seconds From the very first tent stake we drove into California soil, until now, there has only been one dream. And, after two years, that dream came true in Roseville. Roseville is the victory we have yearned for. It confirms that an era of...

God’s Strategy for His End-Times Church

God’s Strategy for His End-Times Church

Read Time: 2 Minutes 23 Seconds In this webinar, Grant Berry discussed the strategy the Lord is releasing for His end-time plans to reform His Ekklesia/church. God is revealing different focuses of this strategy to various parts of the body, especially as it relates...

How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

How You Can Flow in the River of Living Water

Read Time: 5 Minutes, 2 Seconds A river is a source of life. As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. Jesus told His disciples that if we believe in Him, "rivers of living water" will flow out from within us, from our hearts. "Anyone who believes in me may...


Chris Reed Shares Prophetic Word on the Future of China’s Xi Jinping Read Time: 1 minute 20 seconds Unprecedented mass protests are unfolding right now across China. The country is seeing the largest pushback in decades,...
Cindy Jacobs Prophesies: Trust That He is There

Cindy Jacobs Prophesies: Trust That He is There

Read Time: 2 Minutes 42 Seconds It’s very interesting how the Holy Spirit will use things that you’re going through to not only prophesy to you, but also to prophesy over the body of Christ. In listening to other people and hearing what’s been coming out of their...

Have We Departed From the  Simplicity of Christ?

Have We Departed From the Simplicity of Christ?

Recently I heard a pastor say the following: "When I was pastoring and saw little fruit, I began to call those with potential to reach others for Christ to our home and to mentor them one on one. That's where massive growth happened in the people." Local pastors and...

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Joyce Meyer: Becoming a Prisoner of Hope

Read Time: 3 Minutes 56 Seconds God is good. And He has a good plan for each of our lives. No matter what may be going on right now, God’s plan is unfolding. In the meantime, Romans 12:12 tells us to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer,”...

Pin It on Pinterest