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Convert to Christianity reportedly tortured in Syria after church publicized baptism

February 28, 2017

A case decided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court has brought to light the dangers that converts to Christianity face in Syria.

John Doe, the pseudonym of the convert, was a Syrian who lived in the United States. He sought baptism from the First Presbyterian Church USA of Tulsa on condition of confidentiality. The church, however, mentioned the baptism on the Internet.

According to the court decision, during a subsequent trip to Syria, Doe “alleges he was kidnapped, and informed by his kidnappers they were going to carry out his death sentence as a result of his conversion from Islam.”

“Appellant alleges he was tortured for several days before he was able to escape captivity, killing his paternal uncle in the process,” the decision continued. “As a result, he asserts he is now wanted for murder in Syria.”

In a 5-3 decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court sided with the church after Doe sued the church for breach of contract.

“Recognizing the importance of the autonomy of religious institutions within the framework of the United States legal system, the courts must refrain from undue interference with religious beliefs and practices,” the court ruled, adding:

Appellant exercised his right to convert to Christianity and accord his religious beliefs with the demands of his conscience. Similarly, Appellees exercised their right to perform the sacrament of baptism in accordance with the doctrine and a custom of the Church. It is not the role of the courts to adjudicate a dispute between Appellant and Appellees over the publication of Appellant’s baptism in accord with Church practice, even if Appellant was harmed by his baptism and its subsequent publication.


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  • Posted by: Terri11 - Feb. 28, 2017 11:16 PM ET USA

    Have to say, in this case, I'd support the appellant.... If he asked for anonymity, he should've gotten it--and clearly he needed it. There's no religious reason for the church to have needed to make the baptism public.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Feb. 28, 2017 8:12 PM ET USA

    Unfortunate that the convert could not sue the church. That seems to be the only way to smarten up the incompetent staffers who put this confidential information out on the internet,ignorant of the consequences.