A former Muslim man turned Christian alleging that his life was placed in danger after an Oklahoma church publicized information about his conversion online has filed a lawsuit against the church.
The man, identified as John Doe in court documents, is suing First Presbyterian Church of Tulsa and its pastor, Rev. James Miller, after he was abducted and nearly killed by radical Muslims during a trip to his native Syria. Doe claims that his captors found out about his conversion and were about to behead him when he escaped, killing a man in the process.
"We understand the skepticism toward the claim but his injuries and all the allegations are well documented," said Doe's attorney Keith Ward, according to Tulsa World.
Doe says the church and Miller are to blame because he discussed keeping his conversion private for security reasons. After church leaders assured Doe that they would respect his request, they baptized him shortly after. However, the church published information about the event online, garnering the attention of relatives and others in Syria, according to Ward.
Doe, a Tulsa County resident, also claims that upon arriving in Syria, he was bound, blindfolded and told he would be killed for converting from Islam. The complaint states, "Under Sharia law, one who converts from Islam is to be put to death usually, but not always, by beheading. There are no other alternative punishments for conversion from Islam other than death."
The suit alleges that he was also beaten, tortured and forced to spend 18 hours a day in a 55-gallon electrified drum. Furthermore, he was stabbed and shot several times during his abduction and has had multiple surgeries due to injuries, according to his lawyer. Now, he is back in the United States but is apparently wanted by Syrian authorities for murder.
Miller released a statement in response, saying that he could not identify the individual by name, but noted that the claims were invalid.
"The lawsuit is brought by a person who received the Sacrament of Baptism before the congregation during a regular Sunday service at First Church," said Miller. "As the facts and truth of these events are revealed during the judicial process, it will become clear that First Church followed its normal procedures in baptizing this person and the claims made in the suit are not proper."
Doe can no longer visit his son, who lives in Syria, nor return to his home or business in his native country, according to recent news reports.
The lawsuit, filed in Tulsa district court, alleges negligence, breach of contract and outrage and seeks damages exceeding $75,000.