The Rifqa Bary saga ends with a whimper

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — Here’s the short version. Fathima Rifqa Bary, the teenaged Muslim-to-Christian-convert runaway, does not have to rejoin her parents in Columbus, Ohio. She and her folks agreed that she will stay in foster care until she turns 18 in August.

Bary became a minor celebrity several months ago when she ran away from her parents, saying she feared she would be put to death for being an “apostate,” someone who had abandoned Islam. Aided by Christian church leaders in Columbus, she boarded a Greyhound bus for Orlando, Florida, to stay secretly with husband-and-wife pastors, Blake and Beverly Lorenz, for a week or so. Once her whereabouts became known, Bary entered the world of child protection services in first Florida, then Ohio, and became a poster child for religious nutjobs building up anti-Islam fervor.

In the aftermath, the Lorenzes have lost their jobs. (Their church board took issue with the Lorenzes breaking the law by harboring a runaway child without notifying the proper authorities.) Her parents have lost their privacy and a great deal of their reputation. (Law enforcement investigations found the parents posed no threat to their daughter’s safety, but Bary’s anti-Islam fans still trumpet that the girl’s life was in danger.) And Bary will likely end up with a new identity as a “persecuted Christian” who escaped the clutches of Islam — a newly minted spokeswoman for the Religious Fear-mongering Right.

You wait. There’s bound to be a book or movie deal waiting in the wings. And the obligatory appearance on Oprah.

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