Muslim apostate sues Tulsa church
A MUSLIM who converted to Christianity in the US was subsequently tortured and narrowly avoided being beheaded in Syria.
He is now suing the First Presbyterian Church of Tulsa, Oklamoma, and its pastor, the Rev James D Miller, pictured above, alleging a breach of privacy.
The Tulsa County resident, identified only as John Doe in court papers for his own safety, alleged that church leaders published an announcement of his baptism on the Internet after assuring him they would not do so.
As a consequence he was kidnapped on a trip to his native Syria by radical Muslims, including a relative. He was bound, beaten and tortured for several days, and was forced to spend 18 hours a day in a 55-gallon electrified drum. He also was stabbed several times, shot, and threatened with beheading.
When Doe was taken out to be beheaded, he managed to free his hands, grab a firearm from a captor, kill one of them – his paternal uncle – and escape, according to the court filing.
Tulsa attorney Keith Ward, who is representing Doe, said the case is one of the strangest he has seen.
We understand the skepticism toward the claim. but his injuries and all the allegations are well documented.
He said Doe has had four surgeries to repair injuries he received in Syria since returning to Tulsa.
He added that Doe, in his 40s, went to Syria to pick up his bride. He had lived most of his adult life in the United States, and was close to getting US citizenship.
The court filing says that in 2012 Doe discussed converting to Christianity with the leaders at First Presbyterian Church, and discussed the need to keep his conversion private, because under sharia law, one who converts from Islam is put to death, usually by beheading.
After receiving assurances of privacy from church leaders, he was baptised by Miller at the church on December 30, 2012.
He left immediately for Syria, arriving in Damascus on January 2, 2013. On January 6, 2013, according to the law suit, the church published a notice of his baptism that included his name.
In mid-January, Doe was confronted by radical Muslims in Damascus who told him they had read about his conversion on the Internet. He denied it, but was unable to convince them, and they took him captive, the court record says.
G Steven Stidham, another attorney representing Doe, called the church’s action:
An outrageous breach of trust that led to a disastrous consequences.
Stidham said Doe would not be doing media interviews.
Miller issued the following statement through his attorney, John Tucker:
You may have heard that the First Presbyterian Church and I, Dr. James Miller, have been named as defendants in a lawsuit.
The person suing contends he suffered injury at the hands of others in another country because he had been baptized as a Christian at First Church.
I cannot share more details with you because this is a matter in litigation. The person bringing the claim has asked to remain anonymous, so I cannot share with you even who the person is.
I would however, like to speak to the church family and the entire Tulsa community. The lawsuit is brought by a person who received the Sacrament of Baptism before the congregation during a regular Sunday service at First Church. 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 baptising this person and the claims made in the suit are not proper.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake.