Saturday, June 14, 2014

Suit Claims Church's Publicity On Muslim's Conversion Led To His Torture and Near Death In Syria

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a John Doe plaintiff has filed a state court lawsuit seeking $75,000 in punitive damages against the First Presbyterian Church of Tulsa for publishing an online announcement of his December 2012 conversion from Islam to Christianity.  The complaint (full text) in Doe v. First Presbyterian Church U.S.A. of Tulsa, Oklahoma, (OK Dist. Ct., filed 6/9/2014), alleges that plaintiff travels periodically to Syria, and the church knew that any publicity about his baptism would pose a danger to his life. He says that when he was in Syria in January 2013, he was kidnapped, tortured and nearly beheaded before he escaped by forcibly taking a firearm from his captors and killing one of them who was his paternal uncle. He alleges he has received numerous death threats since returning to the United States.

Oklahoma's NewsOn6 and Tulsa Channel 8 report on the lawsuit and quote a statement in response released by the church which says in part: "The lawsuit is brought by a person who received the Sacrament of Baptism before the Congregation during a regular Sunday service at First Church." This appears to contradict the allegation in plaintiff's complaint that he received a "private baptism" at the church.