ABC News w/ Video
Time article wrote:Rifqa Bary, a 17-year-old girl from Columbus, Ohio, who ran away to an Evangelical church in Orlando, Fla., because, she claims, her Sri Lankan Muslim family has threatened to kill her for recently converting to Christianity.
The saga began in mid-July when Rifqa, after a dispute with her parents, bolted from her home and rode a bus to Orlando. There she took refuge with the Rev. Blake Lorenz, the pastor of a conservative Christian congregation, the Global Revolution Church, and his wife Beverly, whom the cheerleader and honor student had met on Facebook. Almost three weeks later, on Aug. 6, the Lorenzes finally let authorities and Rifqa's frantic parents know the girl was with them. Then, a few days later, Rifqa dropped a bombshell to an Orlando television station: she had run away, she claimed, because her family, angry about her conversion to Christianity, had "threatened to kill me."
Columbus police tell TIME they're watching the case closely and are in contact with the courts and social-services agencies in Ohio and Florida; so far they have found no evidence or other information to support Rifqa's accusation. Craig McCarthy, one of two Orlando attorneys appointed to represent the Barys in Florida, says that while they may have been dismayed at first by Rifqa's conversion, as devout parents of any faith would be, they are hardly the kind of fundamentalist Muslims who would declare a medieval fatwa, or death sentence, on their daughter. "There is a vast, vast difference between not being pleased that your child has not chosen your faith and wanting to kill your child," says McCarthy. "This is a family with Westernized kids. Their daughter is a cheerleader."
If Rifqa's claims are indeed false, that raises the question of whether she may have been prodded by her new friends at Global Revolution Church to make the death-threat accusations, and whether she was somehow lured to Orlando by the Lorenzes via the Internet. The couple, who could not be reached for comment, have denied it to the media. But Beverly Lorenz has acknowledged that she talked by phone with Rifqa before the girl ran away. Blake Lorenz, who insists that Rifqa will be killed if she goes home, earlier this month made clear to reporters his Crusades-era belief that this is part of Christianity's holy struggle against Islam: "These are the last days; these are the end times," he said, "and this conflict between Islam and Christianity is going to grow greater. This conflict between good and evil is going to grow greater."
This case is going to make my head explode. One, I can't see how the Lorenzes aren't in any trouble for taking close to three weeks to notify the authorities or her family. Two, I don't see how the Florida Dept. of Children and Families can justify keeping her here. I'm not saying just give her back to the family no questions asked, but even the family is willing to have her be in an Ohio foster home until it gets settled. I don't see how any Florida agency can possibly investigate claims of abuse or threats in another state. Finally, if it turns out that the Lorenzes encouraged her to run away, bought her bus ticket, or have coached her statements, I will lose my shit.