Religious games know no limit: Runaway teen Christian convert

Runaway teen Christian convert must return to Ohio, judge rules

(CNN) — A runaway teen who said her father threatened to kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity will be returned to Ohio once her immigration status has been clarified, a Florida judge ruled Tuesday.

Rifqa Bary, 17, says a mosque told her family to "deal with the situation" of her Christian conversion.

Rifqa Bary, 17, says a mosque told her family to “deal with the situation” of her Christian conversion.

The ruling was a victory for parents Mohamed and Aysha Bary, who had requested that their daughter’s custody be transferred to Ohio while other issues in the case are settled. The teen’s attorney, John Stemburger, who leads a Christian advocacy organization, opposed the move.

Seventeen-year-old Rifqa Bary left her family in Columbus, Ohio, in July and took refuge in the home of a minister in Orlando, Florida. The girl was later moved into foster care after she said in an affidavit that her Muslim father had threatened her after finding out about her conversion. Her father has denied the allegation.

In Tuesday’s ruling, Judge Daniel Dawson said it was in Bary’s best interest for her emergency custody continue in Ohio.

The transfer will not happen until the teen’s immigration status is determined, however, the judge said.

Attorneys for the parents, who are from Sri Lanka, said required immigration documents will be submitted to the court within two weeks. A status hearing has been set for October 23 in case the paperwork has not been filed.

The ruling follows months of legal wrangling, including the affidavit from the teenager claiming that her father was pressured by the family’s mosque in Ohio to “deal with the situation,” referring to her conversion. In an earlier court filing, Rifqa Bary alleged that her father said, “If you have this Jesus in your heart, you are dead to me!” The teenager claims her father added, “I will kill you!” Mohamed Bary, 47, has denied the accusations.

An old Marine buddy of mine used to say “there’s something not quite clear about the milk yet” similar to the famous “clear as mud” commentary often stated to explain situations where something just seems a little too good to be true.  That’s exactly how I felt when news of this story started making it’s rounds a month ago or so on the “conservative” and/or “Christian” blogs and message boards.  I said it then on some of these boards and I say it now, it’s a shame that in it’s war against Muslims and Islam that certain elements within the so-called “evangelical”, “conservative”, “Christian”, community would use a child to further their agenda in this way.

I’m convinced we are yet to get to the bottom of this story, but with a critical eye, it appears to me that this teen was lured by these “ministers” online through facebook and then aided/persuaded possibly to runaway from home to their “protection” in Florida.  Now some may ask why couldn’t exactly as reported?  Some may even state that I’m just taking the parents side because they are Muslim.  To those questions I would like to state that if this father did in fact threaten to kill his daughter than I pray that he is indeed locked away and this child protected.  I can in no way condone this behavior as it is unIslamic (contrary to the propaganda out there). My suspicions arise out of the way it was done.  If this had been any other group who lured a teen into running away from home across America to be with strange adults, these “ministers” would have been locked up.  However, once you through in “Christianity” against the “evil” Islam, the rules are bent and of course the Muslims are guilty until proven innocent while no one bats an eye at the actions of these “Christians”.  When have we ever tolerated luring minors away from home in this manner in our legal system?

The whole thing just seems odd to me.  They helped fund this operation to seek this minor away from her home and even had their very own legal team ready upon her arrival.  If this entire thing is legit, why were they at the ready to parade this child through the “Christian” gauntlet ready to use her and her “plight” as much as possible to encourage the “faithful” and rally them to further “expose” the “enemy” Islam?

I know Christians, I have lived with them all my life, I enjoy their company, family ties, and services on occasion.  Those Christians I know and love, if they truly felt they were acting in this teens best interest would have gone to Ohio and set up shop there discretely and to the best of their ability worked within the law and even with the parents as concerned members in the body of Christ.  I couldn’t imagine them parading this girl around as a token example in their “war” on television, radio, and church meetings.  None outside the concerned would even know.

This is yet another reason, why the whole thing wreaks of a propaganda game using this child to gain exposure.  It’s disgusting and I pray that the law looks into this angle as well as discussions of this child’s welfare is brought up.  If my soon to be teenage son for some crazy teen reason decided to convert to Christianity, God forbid, I would be blood curdling angry, I may even say a few choice words in my anger (possibly) and if I threatened him I would get what I deserved for not controlling my loose and crazy tongue, however, more likely than not, I would still love him no less and move on as a good parent should when their child makes decisions they don’t like.  However, I would be even angrier if I knew some random group had not only influenced my child’s decision but also orchestrated sneaking my child out of my house across state lines into their “protection”  I would want to see nothing less than this group being put behind bars.  It would be one thing that my child made a decision that I didn’t agree with (as all children will do at some point) but it would be an entirely different matter if I found out that my child was influenced and manipulated by strangers and coerced the entire time and then used as a tool as propaganda not only against me but against my entire faith group!

It’s just sickening when you think of it as a parent.  Imagine if the roles were reversed.  Imagine if your “typical” southern, white, conservative, evangelical, christian had doubts about the religion they  were raised in, met a Muslim group on facebook, decided to convert to Islam in secret, and then was aided by an Imam in said group to runaway from home to another state lets say Illinois 🙂 and “protected” by a local Mosque in Chicago.  Could you imagine the outrage?  Could you imagine not only what would be said or have been rumored to be said?  Oh my God it would be a national crisis!

In the end, I pray for the physical and mental safety of this child.  The game that is being played by these “christians” is saddening at best an affront to human decency.  They can pretend that they are playing the role of the “good Samaritan” however, as their very own scripture will note, the Samaritan was not of those who claim to follow a religious tradition, he was a stranger who wouldn’t indulge in the foolishness in religious communities that would exploit the weak and the helpless or outright ignore them unless there was something to gain, the good Samaritan came to uplift and aid these people because it was the right thing to do.  There should be a lesson in all this for those who would use reason.

Exploitation of children should be a crime regardless of the religious implications and sensibilities.  This child is a minor, yet she has been paraded around by these “christians” for one reason only:  To Bash Islam and Muslims in general.  Stand by and wait for the book, movie deals, and speaking engagements as her “harrowing” story is recounted as she is made to look like a saint for seeking Jesus (as) leaving the “cult” of her family, the “evil” Islam.  They may even compare her to the hemorrhaging woman who touched the hem of Jesus (as) garment!  Watch how these “ministers” and their group are elevated to hero status by supporting her, so that everyone in the flock, supporters, and well wishers can feel a little bit better by looking like religious zealots playing with Christ to gain notoriety and a buck in their string-pulled “war” against a made up enemy.


Pray for this child…she will need it



  1. That’s really what it boils down to.  I can only imagine the carnage if some Muslim group were to “lure” a minor Christian half way across the country to give them “protection.”  The headlines would read, “Terrorist Muslims recruiting innocent Christian children.”  It really is a shame that these people who claim to be Christian are using a child to further their agenda.  The Christians I know, trust Christians, are decent, sincere people – and would never engage in something so despicable.  God have mercy.


  2. Rifqa Bary alleged that her father said, “If you have this Jesus in your heart, you are dead to me!”
    Every religion has its kooks and I would never defend one who threatens to kill his child,  but the quote strikes me as a very odd way for a Muslim, kook or otherwise, to word the threat.    Dunno…..just odd.


  3. I used to be involved in Dawah on campus in the late 80’s in USA. Every now and then I would run into young Muslim boys and girls sitting on the border-line of converting to Christianity. Tyically, churches would run their evengalists all over the campus, on campus housing and off-campus housing to catch the young Muslims. So, this is not a new phenomenon. Muslim girls and boys running away from their homes trying to live a “free” life away from their “brutal Muslim” parents has been going on for years. When it came to Britney Spears dating a Muslim, the court granted Britney’s parents charge of her affairs to avoid being “misled” by a man that was apparently a “threat” to her livelihood. But now that a young girl has runaway, the court can not grant custody to the parents dispite the fact that the girl is being misled by the so called “loving” church. I can bet you that the Church can not even save the problem children of their members, so how is one to expect they can look after another persons child.


  4. Been following various articles on this for a while, especially on which cites mainstream news soarces.
    Her parents travelled to the states just so she could have eye surgery. She was part of the cheerleading team, her parents knew she was muslim for months.
    I know that many conservative fellow muslims believe that UNDER A CALIPHATE that apostates should be exeuted. I do not think they are using sound logic(the ultra-conservative muslims) when looking at islamic texts or historical contexts.
    Regardless of what islam does or does not teach, no way her parents would have killed her.
    Here is an article on this, the link tot he news soarce is in the site.


  5. Hi, I would just like to get a sense of how it happened for you, converting to Islam from Christianity. What were the draws for you? Would it be possible that this young woman came to this conversion of her own accord? I know that she was introduced by someone to be sure but could it be possible that the decision was her own and maybe she did fear retaliation from her family. At 17, a lot of teenagers have fears of a lot of issues whether they are realities or not.
    ps. I’m not the renee who posted in September, I recently came to your blog in October.
    Thank you


    1. Thank you for your question renee,

      For the record, let me state that in my opinion it is not her conversion to Christianity that I’m calling into question. What I am calling into question is what seems to me manipulation on the part of the adults involved. Whether or not she felt she was a Christian prior or after her meeting with this group on Facebook, doesn’t concern me, what concerns me is that after meeting this group she was convinced that she should runaway from home and then after that she has been used as a propaganda peace to promote the affiliated church’s beliefs. Considering she is a minor and considering the uncouth nature in how this was handled, it’s very suspicious. If she truly feared for her life and they wanted to help, they should have helped her seek a local church and authorities or traveled to Ohio themselves, I don’t quite get why they felt it necessary to get her to Florida first before anyone (including the authorities) were notified, unless it was to secure their “prize” pupil first. Furthermore, why would you publicize as seemingly and promoted tragic occurrence involving a “frightened” runaway teen? Shouldn’t she be seeking private counseling and the responsible adults working behind the scenes with authorities? Like I sated previously, if the shoe was on the other foot this would probably result in the Muslim leaders responsible arrests and the girl promptly returned to her parents where she would probably be cleansed of her transgressions.

      As it relates to my conversion, while I do not believe it’s pertinent to the discussion, I was a 20 year old Marine who never met a Muslim or knew anything about Islam prior to my research and subsequent conversion. Even after my conversion it was still sometime before I even reached out to another Muslim. During my conversion process I sought the council of Christians I knew and trusted such as my Grandfather who is a Pastor, friends, and family prior to officially making a decision, this was also after years of working hard in the Christian ministry. Whereas this child apparently converted in secret with the aid of this facebook group never once seeking advice from anyone except this group. The entire thing wreaks of a confused teen stumbling upon opportunists, but time will tell…..

      Thanks for your commentary,



  6. Renee, no one is questioning her conversion, it’s her claims that her parents will kill her, and the anti-islamic sites and organizations that are using this to make BS claims.


  7. Thank you for your responses, and thank you Robert for your testimony of conversion. It was helpful to me.  I would assume that unless we talk to this young woman personally, we won’t know the full extent of the story. I would like to apologize for the behavior of the Christians involved in this, if they did coerce this young woman into Christianity as well as leaving her parents. I am a follower of Jesus and that is not biblical. Jesus did not force people to accept him.


  8. if christian change her religion nobody care but if muslim change his/her religion there are outraged within the muslim community you can deny but you can’t hide the thruth.


    1. Dear abu agool,

      I know your from that website that promotes anti-Islam sentiment, but I just wanted you to know which is why I’m approving your comments that I believe your tactics to be completely illogical and by design can fool the non-adept. Please do not twist my words in an attempt at a gotcha comment. I never once made an issue of this child changing her religion, I made issue of the deceptive manner in which she was manipulated by adults in another state online to runaway from home and convert in secret. In Islam, we hold our shahaddah’s in public letting the community know what we believe in pride out in the open without shame, if she wanted to do the same, why in secret? But what happens in secret will soon see the light. Once again I never make comments about anyone changing their religion regardless of their original religion, but I will question deception, manipulation, and questionable actions with a minor especially when done for the sole purpose of maligning my religion.


  9. I recently found your blog site from reading an article on yahoo, and I’m glad I did. You have some really great opinions and insights. This story is one that I found a while ago and was shocked afer reading it. It is a shame that in a country that claims to be equal could let a group of individuals who practice the prodominent faith of that country to get away with what could be called kidnapping. They arranged for a minor to cross state limits and stay with them without a parents permission. Regardless of the reason they should have known that what they were doing was wrong. Did they ever think to talk to her parents, make sure that what she was telling them was the truth. They wanted to hear something that was beneficial to their cause of spreading anti islamic views to the public. I hope that the family of the girl finds justice, and the girl finds a place where she belongs which should be with her family. If they love her, which i believe they do, they will accept her decision regardless of what it may be.


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