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'Adopt a terrorist for prayer,' site urges
Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden is among the people listed on the website for prayer 'adoption.'
February 25th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

'Adopt a terrorist for prayer,' site urges

By Katie Glaeser, CNN

Could you pray for people who planned bombings, carried out shootings and terrorized civilians? A movement in the U.S. is asking Christians to do just that.

At atfp.org, Christians are asked to “adopt a terrorist for prayer.” A quote from the Bible on the site urges visitors to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

"Where is the Christian response to terrorism?" the site says. "If the struggle against violence done in the name of Islam is primarily spiritual, then defeating it requires a spiritual response."

Adopt a Terrorist For Prayer (ATFP) spokesman Thomas Bruce tells CNN the site's main goals are to teach people how to pray for their enemies and to spiritually reform the terrorists.

The site was launched in 2008, with the interactive adoption feature being added in 2009. Bruce says 603 people have registered to prayerfully adopt a terrorist.

While the idea of praying for your foes isn’t new, Bruce says his team created the site in hopes of transforming the war against terrorists.

“We’ve been fighting this for about 10 years with material means, and it hasn’t really changed the nature of it,” Bruce says. “By bringing spiritual perspective to it, and as the Lord answers some of those prayers, it could and should hopefully have a profound change on the viciousness of the conflict we’re in.”

The ATFP site lists 165 people available for “adoption,” most of whom are designated by the FBI and State Department as terrorists or sponsors of terrorism. Just sign up, scroll through the list and choose which individual you’d like to pledge to transform through prayer. CNN could not verify the authenticity of all the names listed on the ATFP site.

Some terrorists have more sponsors than others. Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been adopted by 13 people, while Detroit underwear bombing suspect Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab has just eight. All of the people listed have ties to Islam.

We ask Bruce why that’s the case. He says while he’s considered adding Christian or even eco terrorists to the list, they “aren’t a big threat to national security, our way of life, or our freedom. We should pray for them too, but the movement doesn’t threaten existentially our existence the same way the Islamic terrorists do.”

Bruce has been intimately involved in the conflicts of the past decade. While he was toying with the idea of the site a few years ago, he was called up as a U.S. military reservist. His passions collided when he was sent to northern Iraq to work for one year as a chaplain.

“It’s really important to service personnel to do their service for their country without dehumanizing the people who are trying to hurt their country,” Bruce says. The perspective Jesus brings, he says, can help soldiers deal with the enemy with dignity and treat them as fellow human beings.

And that’s the thought that carries over to his work with ATFP. “Even once someone is captured, they might not be a threat nationally any longer but they still have value to God, and we’d still like to see them changed,” he says.

But ATFP has its critics. Some people say terrorists don’t deserve their prayers, and others just mock the idea.

“I think the ridicule comes from people who don’t believe that spiritual things are valid, and prayer is a valid way to address problems,” Bruce says of critics.

The former military chaplain says he would like to see groups in other nations start similar initiatives, but that for now he just hopes this movement spreads throughout the United States.

“It’s not just the terrorists who are in bondage to an evil system. Christians can be in bondage to an evil system, too," he says. "Part of the struggle is to be liberated from that evil system, and that’s what we believe Jesus Christ helps us to do.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Christianity • Terrorism • Violence

soundoff (688 Responses)
  1. Don

    All religious people are delusional.

    February 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Muneef

      Don.
      I have a son 13 years who I call him Don as short for his name.
      Would kindly ask you to read only this page to read what Islam religion call for in few lines as being the Essence of the Quran message of how should Islam be for and this message should be addressed as to Abrahamic and others;
      http://www.deenresearchcenter.com/ResearchLibrary/EnglishLibrary/QuranonGodandHumanism/tabid/107/language/nl-NL/Default.aspx

      February 27, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  2. jayman419

    If god had any interest in the outcome of this fight, he'd have already chosen sides wouldn't he? We're like bacteria fighting in a petri dish.

    February 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  3. Muneef

    Nightmares of Pakistani prize-winning reciter of the Qur'an
    Former Guantanamo inmate Saad Iqbal Madni's 'agony'
    (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12566027)
    BBC, 25 February 2011 Last updated at 00:08 GMT
    By Orla Guerin BBC News, Lahore

    February 27, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Muneef

      Each soul earneth only on its own account,nor doth any laden bear another's load.
      No laden soul can bear another's load.
      And no burdened soul can bear another's burden.
      No laden soul will bear another's load.
      That no laden one shall bear another's load.

      February 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  4. Man

    They who cannot pray for the terrorists and love them are not the followers of Jesus. For Jesus had commanded that we love our enemies and pray for them . They are Christians but not following Jesus.

    February 27, 2011 at 3:20 am |
  5. Preethi

    .There is a difference between God of the Bible and allah and other gods. Sometimes when you see that evil is real, devil is real and there is a stronger divine power than these evil forces, you will come to know that this divine force is God.

    I was a sceptic until I witnessed exorcisms. In Asia there are these shamans or Tantric who spend a lot of time meditating at public crematorium grounds and cemeteries. They wear charms and necklaces of tiny human bones around their bodies and are terrifying to a lot of people. They would come to any rendezvous what you say and do frightening things and show off some of their powers. People including Muslims and their Imams, Hindus and their priests, Sikhs, nominal Christians and atheists were scared of them. But surprisingly these Tantric men were only scared a lot of this prayerful skinny born-again Christian young man.
    I believe the Tantric men were afraid of the Holy Spirit in this born-again Christian young man.

    I know there are a lot of fake Christians around but ask God your Creator and the Creator of this world to come into your heart and life and you will be lead to Christ.

    There is God (He is good & is The Creator) otherwise there cannot be such complex life forms. There is Anti-God who is evil otherwise there can't be such evil as seen in video/world.

    True enlightenment is when you know this Creator personally. For this you must clear yourself of any thoughts which could bias or influence your search and simply pray "O God my Creator and who created this world please help me & show me the right path and I will follow You and if you don't answer me I will do what I feel is right and You will be responsible." God will reveal Himself to you. Try it for 7 days. Remember don't read/visit/perform/see/touch/hear any religious or spiritual book/place/ritual/video/object/audio or person during these 7 days.

    You will be surprised that you will be lead to faith in Jesus Christ.
    God bless and peace to you all.

    February 27, 2011 at 1:49 am |
    • Bill

      Every time CNN prints an article that has to do with religion, the crackpots come out of the woodwork.

      February 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  6. Preethi

    Sometimes when you see that evil is real, devil is real and there is a stronger divine power than these evil forces, you will come to know that this divine force is God.

    I was a sceptic until I witnessed exorcisms. In Asia there are these shamans or Tantric who spend a lot of time meditating at public crematorium grounds and cemeteries. They wear charms and necklaces of tiny human bones around their bodies and are terrifying to a lot of people. They would come to any rendezvous what you say and do frightening things and show off some of their powers. People including Muslims and their Imams, Hindus and their priests, Sikhs, nominal Christians and atheists were scared of them. But surprisingly these Tantric men were only scared a lot of this prayerful skinny born-again Christian young man.
    I believe the Tantric men were afraid of the Holy Spirit in this born-again Christian young man.

    I know there are a lot of fake Christians around but ask God your Creator and the Creator of this world to come into your heart and life and you will be lead to Christ.

    There is God (He is good & is The Creator) otherwise there cannot be such complex life forms. There is Anti-God who is evil otherwise there can't be such evil as seen in video/world.

    True enlightenment is when you know this Creator personally. For this you must clear yourself of any thoughts which could bias or influence your search and simply pray "O God my Creator and who created this world please help me & show me the right path and I will follow You and if you don't answer me I will do what I feel is right and You will be responsible." God will reveal Himself to you. Try it for 7 days. Remember don't read/visit/perform/see/touch/hear any religious or spiritual book/place/ritual/video/object/audio or person during these 7 days.

    You will be surprised that you will be lead to faith in Jesus Christ.
    God bless and peace to you all.

    February 27, 2011 at 1:45 am |
  7. eric

    @The Truth to Jeff
    Christianity, Islam and Judaism are indeed Abrahamic Religions. Then I said that FOR ALL INTENTS AND PURPOSES
    (Quoted)

    They are not an Abrahamic Religions. Abraham is the father of nations. Judaism only know Torah (OT), The Christians have followed Issac's school, The Moslem have followed Ishmael's school.
    Abraham was Jew persian, Hagar was Egyptian, so Ishmael was Egyptian-Jew, and Mohammed was arabian. Actually, based on bible there is connection between Ishmael and Mohammed

    February 27, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • eric

      Typo...

      There is NO connection between Ishmaelite and Mohameddan

      February 27, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  8. SierraHennessy

    While I'm thinking about it, how is it that two religions, whose founders were peace loving men, have caused the majority of human suffering in the modern world. Shame on all of you.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  9. SierraHennessy

    Boy! The toxic nature of these posts is enough to make me glad I'm Wiccan. Of course, then I have to worry about being burnt at the stake by some of you. And for the record, I've read both the Quoran and the Bible, which I would be the majority of people fanning this flame war couldn't say. In the end, religion has nothing to do with this, it's merely the easiest excuse to hate someone. Why not try Wicca, we've only got ONE rule, An it harm none, do what you will. Seems very straightforward to me and I don't hate any of you for our differences.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:24 am |
  10. Gail

    To all Christ followers who are adopting a terrorist in prayer: You may want to claim the following promise from God: "And I will give you a new heart - I will give you new and right desires - and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your stony hearts of sin and give you new hearts of love." Ez 36:26

    And keep in mind:

    " You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God has given you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; notone has failed." Josh 23:4

    February 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  11. Gail

    "The fervent prayer of a believing person is powerful and effective." James 5:16

    February 26, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  12. Child of a Lesser God

    We also need to pray for the USA and the economic terrorism it takes part in all across the globe. We need to pray for US corporations and their policy of terrorism against the working class and the environment. We need to pray as well for our US gov't leaders and their part in the things I mentioned above.

    February 26, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  13. Child of a Lesser God

    This is a valid Christian idea, according to scripture. After all, Jesus loved even those who persecuted him. The real test is whether Americans Christians, who often have a spiteful opinion of non-Chritians, are willing to actually be like Christ. The whole idea of loving your enemies is hard for some people to wrap their heads around. However, the idea is not a bad one. If everyone had the moral strength to love their enemies, they would evetually have less enemies. The problem is, some people really like having enemies and "defending" Christianity.

    February 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  14. teddy Galea

    Hey there BIN LADEN why dont you come to Malta so I can show you how to Roast a PIG

    February 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  15. pronco

    I wonder if they have a prayer policy for Palestinians.

    February 26, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  16. The Truth

    Here's a video for everyone:

    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/video7.htm

    In this video, it does two things:

    1) Compares Christianity, Islam and Mormonism.

    2) Talks about the efficacy of prayer.

    Enjoy!

    February 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  17. Steelmagnolia

    Good call. I've been praying about the terrorist candidates in the prisons in my State. They are alone, vulnerable, filled with
    hatred toward themselves and everyone else. I am going to locate one or some to love as Jesus Christ loves. HE has a
    mandate to have as many of these folks at the Banqueting Table with Him as can be. He chose the hated tax collectors, demon-possessed, the social outcasts and even prayed forgiveness for the soldiers that nailed His lovely hands to The Cross.

    February 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • pronco

      Do you have a prayer policy for Palestinians?

      February 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  18. cookieknits

    I knew if any article was going to turn into a hate sling, this one would. We are all of us, Christian, Jewish and Islamic, sons and daughters of Abraham. There would be a lot less strife in the world if we all did pray for each other in the way God intended us to.

    February 26, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • HotAirAce

      There would be a lot less strife in the world if there was no religion or belief in gods.

      February 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
  19. MERLINTH

    To all "fundamentalists" It must hurt your feelings and bank accounts when the people YOU SAY want you, need you are now speaking out...........quite the reverse to your proclamations, when I buy a product I don't refer to an out of date 2,550 year old manual........adopt? why? remember the Farmer who helped the sick snake? When it was well it turned on him – Your efforts to screw up the world don't leave room for reconciliation, we just want you off the planet period and you know it –

    February 26, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • john

      Wow! MERLINTH where's the love? Certianly not you – in fact there is none to be found in you I am thinking. you are pathetic!

      February 26, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Ever heard of the rapture? What you have asked for will happen soon enough but ONLY in God's timing. I am not sure how much you will enjoy what fills the vacuum though!

      February 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Liam Diehm

      You sound a lot like a terrorist. I'll pray for you too.

      February 26, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Something

      The rapture, from the Book of Revelation, is a first century science fiction / horror / fantasy story.

      February 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Something
      The rapture, from the Book of Revelation, is a first century science fiction / horror / fantasy story.
      -------
      Yes it is horror but only if you miss it! It appears you know nothing about God or His word!

      February 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Something

      Steve the real one,

      I know quite a bit about a couple of books which purport to be "God's" word.

      An omniscient "God", desirous of everyone's belief in it, would not have 'written' things which could be so egregiously mistranslated, mistranscribed, misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misused.

      February 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • The Truth

      @Steve:

      First off, people have been "so sure" the rapture is coming for century after century after century. All of them were incorrect and all of them were just as sure (if not more so) than you currently are.

      Secondly, if you study the topic, you'll see things like the sea turning into blood etc are ramifications of events of the island he was on in the Aegean Sea when he wrote it. In this particular example, they have "Crimson Tides" or "Red Tides" there that happen on occasion. Thus, an uneducated man from 2K years ago would see this and think COMPLETELY different about it then without the benefit of the scientific knowledge that we have today.

      Here's a picture of a real red tide and perhaps you can see why an uneducated man might think it was something else 2K years ago:

      http://trooperworld.wdfiles.com/local–files/crimson-tide/red-tide-algae.jpg

      Peace.

      February 26, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Something
      Steve the real one,
      I know quite a bit about a couple of books which purport to be "God's" word.
      ----–
      No you don't. If they are just words and not spiritually alive to you, again, no you don't! At least when it comes to the Bible, you don't!

      February 26, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • The Truth

      @ Steve: The last link I gave you seems to be sporadic. You can try this one instead and/or just Google Red Tide. This would produce a massive toxin that would kill fish, make people sick from eating seafood, etc.

      http://trooperworld.wikidot.com/crimson-tide

      February 26, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • teddy Galea

      AMEN

      February 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Dan

      Wow, Merlinth. Way to be tolerant.

      February 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      The Truth
      Here's a picture of a real red tide and perhaps you can see why an uneducated man might think it was something else 2K years ago: http://trooperworld.wdfiles.com/local–files/crimson-tide/red-tide-algae.jpg . Peace.
      -------
      Thanks for the info Truth. I have heard of this before, not an expert but heard of it.
      As far as the rapture goes for us it is the Blessed Hope! It WILL happen, but when God says so! Yes folks have been waiting since the first century! It has not come yet as God desires the full extension of His grace! It (the rapture) WILL happen.

      February 26, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • The Truth

      *** @Steve: "Thanks for the info Truth. I have heard of this before, not an expert but heard of it."***

      You're welcome. That is just the tip of the iceberg with Revelations. You could do more research on it if you are so inclined.

      ***As far as the rapture goes for us it is the Blessed Hope! It WILL happen, but when God says so! Yes folks have been waiting since the first century! It has not come yet as God desires the full extension of His grace! It (the rapture) WILL happen.***

      Steve, the ancient Egyptians prayed to Amun-Ra. Nothing happened. The ancient Greeks prayed to Zeus, Apollo, etc. Nothing happened. This goes on throughout the history of virtually every culture on the planet. They all believe, but in the end, nothing happens. What do all of those cultures have in common? They were all 100% SURE they had the right religion.

      In case you are interested from a semi-blog I did due to character restrictions on a different site elsewhere:

      http://uscatholic.yuku.com/topic/40/Why

      Good luck in your quest.

      Peace.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  20. leo

    Just add Bush to the list...

    February 26, 2011 at 5:51 am |
    • (B)iraq Hussein Osama

      perhaps the christians should start at home. by adopting all the americans who build weapons systems that then are sold and shipped overseas. ADOPT A WEAPONS EXPORTER.

      Let the Moslems deal with their own terrorists. First adopt the terrorism you manufacture at home.

      February 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.