The Impetuousness of Youth

Here’s one to chew on at lunchtime:

In July, a 17 year-old young lady named Rifqa Bary ran away from her family in Columbus, Ohio. The girl’s parents reported her missing to Columbus police, who found her two weeks later in Florida where she’d gone to join Rev. Blake Lorenz and his church, the Global Revolution Church in Orlando. She’d heard about the church on Facebook.

Rifqa is Muslim. Well, her family is Muslim. That’s the tradition in which she was raised. As a result, her parents are very upset that she “converted”.

The teenager, in a sworn affidavit, claims her father, Mohamed Bary, 47, was pressured by the mosque the family attends in Ohio to “deal with the situation.” In the court filing, Rifqa Bary stated 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!”

In addition, the girl claims other forms of abuse in the past, including being punched in the face by her father for being ashamed of wearing the Muslim headscarf called a hijab.

The father says the claims are false, insisting his family is not like that. And her mother points out that Rifqa was a cheerleader in Ohio, and that she’s allowed a Facebook page, which she claims indicates the parents are not extremists.

But even if Mohamed Bary’s remarks are incorrect as quoted, and even if the accusations of physical abuse are unfounded, there are other players in this drama waiting in the wings to totally screw things up.

John Stemberger, Rifqa Bary’s attorney and president of the Christian advocacy organization Florida Family Policy Council, accused the parents’ Ohio mosque of having ties to terrorism and radical Islam.

Holy hell! They’ve called in a conservative Christian attorney to settle a dispute among Muslim family members? What’s next? David Duke hosts Soul Train?

There is fear, even if it is manufactured by the Christians in this play, that should the girl return to Ohio, she could be killed by Muslims outside of her family. Stemberger says Rifqa is ripe for apostate killing or mercy killing by someone in her family’s mosque.

Whoa! Things sure get whacky when you have more than one deity pulling the puppet strings.

Now there is a very good chance this young lady simply has issues that go no further than her own emotional immaturity, and this is how those issues have been manifested. But by going from one religious setting to a different religious setting has done nothing but add irrational fuel to an already unstable fire.

It may be that the only rational player in this fiasco is the court, if you can believe that, as they have placed the girl in a foster home until they can sort everything out.

I sincerely hope this young lady is in no real danger, but it’ll be fun to see who gets to claim their god is stronger at the end of all this.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. When I read this story earlier I thought the same things.

    My worry is that the church is going to use her and a media tool showing how they saved her from her opressive religion with their oppressive religion.

    Out of the frying pan into the fire.

  2. Isn’t there some nice old testament story that already has the answer for them.

    Simply chop her in half and one part goes to mosque and the other to church.

    Only question is do we chop her vertically or horizontally. hmmmmmm…

  3. She’s learned how to leave one religion. My money says that within ten years she figures out how to leave the other. I mean, if she survives.

  4. I say the Christians and Muslims have a dance off, beat box and wacky nineties trackies included.
    Seriously, I agree with mikespeir she’s already pretty strong minded, (even if she has picked another group of nutjobs to hang out with ) hey who’d have thought, a skeptical cheerleader, cool.

  5. Do any of you think that you might be taking this a bit too lightly? If Rifqa is telling the truth, there is the possibility that she might get murdered by her parents after all?

    There have been people who have lost their lives for converting out of Islam, and much of the violence around the world today is committed in the name of the religion. Salmon Rushdie has to fear for his life because the Ayatollah Khomeini put a fatwa on him for what he wrote in the Satanic Verses. You may want to be objective, and that’s reasonable and good, but why shouldn’t we at the very least think its possible that what Rifqa is telling us is true? Do you think that if her parents really were abusing her and threatening her life, that they would want the authorities to know? You guys are supposed to be skeptics, if you were a bad person who committed a crime and got caught, don’t you think you might try to cover it up, if you thought you might be able too?

    I find it kind of disturbing that many of you are taking about this in a joking manner. Its not funny.

    In fact, if you don’t take the threat posed by radical Islam to our freedom seriously, you may want to check out one of these sites.

    Religion of Peace

    Jihad Watch

    Citizen Warrior,

    Pat Condel

  6. @Damien:

    Relax, brother.

    I find it kind of disturbing that many of you are taking about this in a joking manner. Its not funny.

    I find it kind of disturbing that you would assume any of us have sided with the parents. I find it kind of disturbing that you would assume any of us are siding with anyone.

    You say, “You guys are supposed to be skeptics.” Well, we are. There is not enough evidence to know one way or the other who is telling the truth. We don’t know if the father hit the girl, or if he said what she claimed he said. We don’t know if the parents are not extremists. And we don’t know if the charges by the lawyer that their mosque has terrorist ties are true, or that if any Muslim, in their mosque or elsewhere, thinks the girl is ripe for a mercy killing. We just don’t know.

    No one has jumped to any conclusions in this thread, as far as I can tell, because there’s not enough evidence available. That is a sound skeptical approach.

    In addition to that, I myself have said twice (once in the post and once in the comments) that I sincerely hope this young lady is in no danger. And I’ll say it again. I don’t want to see anyone hurt, no matter the circumstances. It would be horrible if something bad happens to this girl, and I really hope it doesn’t.

    The jokes and lightheartedness in the comments are aimed at the situation; that being the escape from one religion right into another. And that’s it.

    Please don’t wag a finger when it’s not warranted.

  7. Sam Ogden,

    I am not assuming that you are siding with anyone, here. Maybe the way, I wrote my comment made you think, that I did. I just think that it isn’t a good idea to talk about this in a manner that makes it sound like its not a big deal. The way that many of you have been writing about this, makes it sound to me, like you think this is funny. Its not funny. Even if the girl is lying, its not funny, because than she gave us a reason to think her life was in danger when it really wasn’t, and the next time some religious fanatic threatens to murder their son or daughter, and their child runs away and tells the authorities, the authorities might be less likely to take the witness seriously. That might than lead to the child actually being murdered, by their parents.

    Maybe the parents are not fanatics, maybe they truly love their daughter and would not murder her. I know for a fact that not all Muslims are violent Jihadists. Some are not at all determined to force the entire world to convert, submit or die. Maybe her mom and dad will show some tolerance, and accept her new religion. Maybe they don’t really want to kill her.

    But if that is not true, than her life maybe in mortal danger right now. I don’t think this is something to joke about. There are a lot of Muslim fundamentalists around the world, who would kill Rifqa, for converting to Christianity or any other religion.

  8. By the way, I didn’t link to those sites because I was assuming that anyone here was prematurely, siding with the parents. I linked to those sites, encase, any of the people here were prematurely siding with the parents.

  9. I actually think she probably would be ok with her family– as they did point out she was allowed to be a cheerleader.

    BUT, I really don’t think that should be forced. Ever. If a kid above 12 or 13 or so insists that home is horrible and he/she can’t stay home and goes to the trouble of running away to another state than perhaps there really are extenuating circumstances at home. The law shouldn’t force them back, but then again, shouldn’t let them stay with anyone who may have enticed them away from home either. An uninvolved third party, a foster home, should care for the child until or unless he/she decides to return home on their own, with some mutual counseling going on.

  10. “Whoa! Things sure get whacky when you have more than one deity pulling the puppet strings.”

    Actually, the true issue here is the fundamental tribal nature of humans. All the nuttery in this issue comes down, not to religion, but to the social problems associated with one tribe attempting to maintain its norms, self-identity, and ‘I am better than you’ – ness when dealing with a competing tribe.

    Thanks to the way the world is set up, this particular example of human tribal identity is expressed through two competing religious fundamentalist groups. However, it is just as evident here. Where the rampant, blind, bullshit crazy comments of the atheist tribe have unhesitatingly skipped the human nature aspect of the problem and instead jumped on the opportunity to field its own tribal claims to superiority. This is evidenced quite succinctly by Tez who tells us all.

    ” @jrpowell
    I already consider it child abuse. But someday, maybe the world will catch up with us…”

    Yes Tez, someday, when all the world has caught up with ‘us’ and all the heathens who don’t think like we do are gone… Why, what a wonderful world that will be.

    Oh.. Wait.. this gets confusing.. Which ‘Us’ am I supporting again?

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