Ron Strom is commentary editor of WND, a post he took after serving as a news editor since 2000. Prior to coming on board with WND, Strom worked in politics in California. Married and the father of two homeschool graduates, he has served in leadership positions in his church, local nonprofit boards and in county government.More ↓Less ↑
While most of the media have focused on the four adult Christians arrested last year for protesting a homosexual event in Philadelphia, there also is a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for her participation.
Lauren Murch is one of the 11 Christians who were arrested on Oct. 10.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the group was “preaching God’s Word” to a crowd of people attending the “OutFest’ event and displaying banners with biblical messages.
After a confrontation with a group called the Pink Angels, described by protesters as “a militant mob of homosexuals,” the 11 Christians were arrested and taken into custody. All but Lauren spent the night in jail.
Eight charges were filed: criminal conspiracy, possession of instruments of crime, reckless endangerment of another person, ethnic intimidation, riot, failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and obstructing highways.
None of the Pink Angels was cited or arrested.
After a preliminary hearing in December, Judge William Austin Meehan ordered four of the adult Christians to stand trial on three felony and five misdemeanor charges. If convicted, they could get a maximum of 47 years in prison.
Lauren, 17, also was ordered to stand trial, but in the juvenile justice system. She faces the same eight counts.
The girl’s father, Bruce Evan Murch, says the media and others have effectively left Lauren out of the story by referring to the group as the “Philadelphia 4,” even though she, also, faces charges. Murch says the group’s local attorneys have not communicated well with him as Lauren missed the December hearing because she knew nothing about it.
Even now, Murch says he is unsure what date Lauren’s trial will occur.
“I have nine children, seven boys and two girls from age 6 to 21, all living at home,” Murch told WND. “They were all born at home and schooled at home. We got involved in activism in 1989 when I founded an Operation Rescue group. My children have done street ministry with me virtually all of their lives.”
Lauren attended the OutFest protest without any other family members, Murch says, “though normally we all would have gone to this.” He says one or more of his family participates in protests three or four times a year in Philadelphia.
Murch explained that since his wife, Beverly, was diagnosed with uterine cancer last summer, he has “pulled back from active ministry.”
According to Murch, after her arrest Lauren was held in a juvenile detention facility for 12 or 13 hours and released to a trusted friend at about 1 a.m. the next morning.
“I am a bit distressed that she seems to have fallen through the cracks,” Murch said. “The media claim that charges were dropped against seven people, and it was only six; they state that there are only four with charges still pending, when there are five.