Runaway Christian Convert Allowed to Live Apart from Parents

A teenage girl from Ohio who ran away from home after she became Christian can remain free from her Muslim parents, according to the terms of a court settlement.

Though Rifqa Bary's parents have been fighting to regain custody of her since last August, under the agreement Tuesday, the 17-year-old teen can stay in a foster home under state custody in Columbus until she turns 18. After legally becoming an adult in August, Bary will be free to live where she chooses.

In a statement read in the Franklin County Juvenile Court, Bary's attorney reported that the girl and her parents – who emigrated from Sri Lanka – love and respect each other and will try to resolve their differences through counseling.

Since last August, Bary has been involved in a legal battle with her parents, claiming that her father had said, "If you have this Jesus in your heart, you are dead to me!" and also added some time later, "I will kill you!"

Bary's father, Mohamed Bary, however, has vehemently denied ever threatening to kill his daughter for converting to Christianity and accuses the pastors she stayed with in Florida of "brainwashing" his daughter into believing she was in danger of an "honor killing."

Last July, Bary ran away from her home near Columbus by boarding a Greyhound bus and heading to Orlando, where she was taken in by an evangelical pastor couple in Orlando that she met through a Facebook prayer group.

Bary stayed with the pastors for two weeks until Florida authorities discovered her parents had filed her as missing.

She has since been living in foster homes – first in Florida and later in Ohio, where judges from both states eventually agreed jurisdiction in the custody case belonged.

The pastors who sheltered her, meanwhile, have denied having knowingly broke the law by hiding the Muslim-turned-Christian girl from Ohio.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which completed investigation into the Lorenzes' role in Bar's case, has yet to come to a decision on whether they will be charged with any wrongdoing.

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