Murder Threat or Religious Clash?
Lorenz said Rifqa, a native of Sri Lanka, had secretly converted from Islam to Christianity four years ago, but her religion was only discovered recently. Rifqa had snuck out to an area church where, according to Lorenz, she had an "incredible encounter with Jesus."
Lorenz said Rifqa was so moved she posted about it on her Facebook page, writings that would later be seen by her friends from her family's mosque and reported to her father.
"That's when he threatened to kill her for the first time," Lorenz said, adding that he didn't know on how many other occasions that threat had been made.
The battle allegedly came to a head about a month ago, Lorenz said, when Rifqa's mother found a Christian book in the house while Bary was out of town. Rifqa's mother, he said, threatened to tell her father.
"She did say she was dead to her" if she didn't renounce her Christian faith, Lorenz said.
Rifqa confirmed to ABC's Orlando affiliate WFTV that she believed her father would kill her.
"They have to kill me because I'm a Christian. It's an honor [killing]. If they love me more than God, then they have to kill me," she explained.
Terrifed and fearing she would be the victim of an honor killing, she got on a bus and borrowed a cell phone to contact Beverly Lorenz who she had been communicating with after finding the Lorenzes' church on Facebook.
The pastors' first move was to call an attorney, several of them, actually.
"No one really knew what to do," Lorenz said, pointing out that Rifqa was not only a minor, but that she had crossed state lines and she wasn't even a U.S. citizen.
Blake Lorenz said Rifqa arrived late at night after a two-day trip. The next morning, the couple called police for advice, but did not tell them Rifqa's name. They did report Rifqa's presence two weeks later, he said, when the couple realized the teen's parents had reported her missing.
Lorenz said he fears Rifqa is "definitely not safe." He pointed to other suspected honor killings in Muslim families, including two Texas sisters who were murdered by their Muslim father Jan. 1, 2008, in what some believed to be religion-fueled rage over the girls' Western ways.
Lorenz said he called the abuse hotline last Friday. Elizabeth Arenas, a public information officer for Florida's DCF, said Rifqa is now in foster care while Florida officials work with Ohio child services to investigate the teen's claims.
"We just want to be sure she's going to be safe," Arenas said.
Rifqa is being represented by a lawyer with the Alliance Defense Fund, a legal group that takes on conservative Christian causes.
The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 21.
"When she saw her dad yesterday, she was scared to death," Blake Lorenz told ABCNews.com on Tuesday. "She literally believes she's going to be killed."
As for Bary, he said, "I don't want to make him out to be a monster, because I'm sure he's not."
Her parents were also given supervised visitation rights, but only at the discretion of their daughter. Arenas said she was unsure if Rifqa had met with her parents since the hearing.
"I don't want to see my father," she told WFTV.
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