Runaway Christian Convert Gains Legal U.S. Residency

A lawyer for a runaway Christian convert from Ohio says the 18-year-old Sri Lanka native has gained permanent residency in the United States.

Kort Gatterdam reported Tuesday that Rifqa Bary received her permanent residency card last week and can apply for citizenship in five years.

In the meantime, Bary can start applying for a driver's license, college scholarships, and Medicaid coverage.

News of Bary's change of status comes one month after her 18th birthday effectively put an end to a legal battle between her and her Muslim parents.

Bary was thrust into the public eye last year after she ran away from home in fear that her conversion to Christianity would cost her her life.

Bary claimed that her father had told her, "If you have this Jesus in your heart, you are dead to me!" and also added some time later, "I will kill you!"

In many Muslim societies, women who stray from strict cultural upbringings are often accused of bringing dishonor upon the family and are cast out or even killed.

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."

Since their daughter ran away from home, the Barys have been fighting to regain custody of her.

After turning 18, however, Bary was released from Ohio state custody.

Though it was not announced where Bary would be living, her attorney, Gatterdam, said she plans to "continue to preach the gospel to anyone who wants to hear it, as she heard it five years ago."

Gatterdam also said Bary loves and forgives her parents but still doesn't feel safe with them.

According to reports, the attorney said reunification would not be possible until Bary's parents admit to past abuse, which he believes caused Bary to seek love and acceptance in Christ.

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