In her Aug. 13 Newsmax column, right-wing blogger Pamela Geller touts the story of Fathima Rifqa Bary, an Ohio teenager who ran away from home to a Florida pastor claiming that her parents planned to kill her for converting from Islam to Christianity:
Rifqa Bary is alive. She ran to Florida and escaped the fate her father had in mind for her — unlike Amina and Sarah Said, two Muslim teens in Texas who ran away but returned home at the insistence of their mother, Tissie Said, only to be brutally murdered by their father, Yaser Said, on New Year’s Day 2008.
Americans don’t understand because the “experts” aren’t telling them. I pray that Rifqa’s defenders bring to the court experts who know about honor killings. Family members who have lost their relatives to honor killings (for less) should be giving testimony.
Rifqa’s testimony is a plea to the free world to stand for its values and its principles. How far we have fallen when a young woman is pleading to be free in the land of the free, home of the brave.
Rifqa Bary’s life hangs in the balance. The West should do everything in its power to save her.
But Geller is not telling the whole story. As Christianity Today reports (via Richard Bartholomew), Bary's story is being promoted by the pastor who whom she fled, Blake Lorenz, whom the girl found through Facebook, and the parents are telling a much different story:
The attorney representing Bary's mother told Orlando-based 10TV News that they were "allowing [Bary] to explore her Christianity," and that Bary wasn't fearful until she met Pastor Lorenz, who holds Bary tightly throughout the video.
Meanwhile, Sgt. Jerry Cupp with the Columbus missing persons bureau disputes Bary's claims, telling The Columbus Dispatch that Mohamed Bary has known about his daughter's conversion for months and appears to be caring. And today, the attorney for Bary's parents issued a statement that they have never threatened Bary: "If this case is perceived as a clash of religions, it is because Mr. Lorenz recklessly and without authorization put someone else's child in front of television cameras to publicly renounce her previous faith," McCarthy said in the statement. "The parents who love Rifqa are in the best position now to protect her from the mess that Mr. Lorenz has made."
Further, as Bartholomew adds, Lorenz "believes that he receives special personal messages from God about the imminent end of the world," which raises questions about whether he's exploiting Bary to promote his own ministry.
Christianity Today concludes:
Of course, believers can rejoice that this teenager has come to Christ in a cultural context in which it would be difficult to betray her parents' teaching. And if Bary's claims are true, we can also hope that her legal case is handled fairly and wisely, and that she finds support from Christian mentors and friends. But none of this requires that Christians be quick to use Bary's claims to prove that Muslims — in this case, her parents and mosque leaders — are intent on killing Bary because their beliefs make them inherently violent.
That last point is exactly what Geller appears to want to push by ignoring the full story.