'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. BS

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME! wake up people! If Americans were educated at all in the purpose and function of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, etc. they would understand that people who use terrorism do not care about your prayers! . These people do not care about wordly things, they are more concerned about the hereafter. When polarizing figures such as Osama bin Laden tell young, impressionable youth that if they commit jihad against infidels they will be assured a place in heaven, then prayers and thoughtful concern from Western Christians is laughable!!! Heaven is a place where they can escape to from the hell hole they call home, all the while glorifying their religion and making their families proud. Until Americans stop seeing everything from a Western viewpoint and start trying to understand the roots of terrorism, then maybe we can get somewhere! Until then, keep your prayers to yourself...they will only go wasted.
    p.s. – Just an FYI for Christians, you are sending your prayers to God, which conversly is Allah in Islam. And Allah receives prayers from Muslims about you Christians. Who do YOU think God will listen to? Just another example of why religion is a waste of time!!!

    February 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Bert M.

      BS, the people discussed in this article are actually doing a good thing. They are, in their own way, trying to do good for everyone. I do not consider myself a Christian, nor am I bound by any other faith, but what they are doing is better than spouting more hatred. More hate won't solve anything, on the contrary...

      Also, "Allah" translated into english means "God". Both Islam and Christianity share a number of historic religious figures. It's the same god they worship, they just have different views on "him".

      February 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Bert M,

      We do not worship the same God:
      1. Jehovah had a son, Allah did not (ask any Muslim).
      2. Jehovah's son, dwelt among man and (without sin) experienced the human condition, he understands suffering because He suffered,not so with Allah,as he has no son
      3. Jehovah God promised Abraham an heir, Isaac, not Ishmael!
      The differences are way beyond a simple difference in view!

      February 25, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  2. Reality

    How to save any Muslim to include any Muslim terrorists in under two minutes:

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.
    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    February 25, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality, get a job!

      February 25, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Bubba

      "Reality" is 180° from where you are.

      February 25, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  3. Colin

    So let me get this straight. The idea is that you think silent thoughts about the terrorists (seeking their reform, forgiveness etc.). The Christian god reads your mind (or "hears your prayers" to the extent you see a difference). It then intervenes to alter the minds of the terrorists to make them better persons.

    Somehow, "oh come on!" just doesn't quite capture it.

    February 25, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  4. Dan

    One of the greatest things I admire about MLK and Gandhi is that they believed that their oppressors could change. Rather than try to eliminate white people who tried to keep the black man "in his place", or try to violently expel the British from India, both men wanted their oppressors to be their brothers and friends. They wanted to see their oppressors have a change of heart and pursue peace and justice. People laughed at the impossibility of that ever happening – but it did. If you defeat your enemy, but he's still your enemy – you haven't really won.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  5. lee s

    all I can say is what? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. At least. Thats what the terrorists are saying. Fight fire fire, these people will just walk all over that kind of thinking. NOT EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD IS LIKE AMERICA YOU DOLTS.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  6. Joseph

    In answer to the critics of Christian praying for their enemies. Why are you afraid, are you afraid that something positive will occur that will weaken your own faith? Do you think that Christians do not want terrorist held accountable for their actions? Do you consider it a personal attack on your own faith?

    I seen no harm in this movement, no ill can come of it.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • joe

      I'm worried about too much prayer in the air. It may interfere with airplane and satellite communications, which could get dangerous.

      February 25, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  7. LLB

    Have any of you tried this idea yet? You all question its validity, and mock the purpose, but have you tried it yet? What harm does it do if you simply TRY? It would help you, for certain, you would get something out of it – a more peaceful state of mind, and who knows, when you do pray for a terrorist – for his enlightenment to peace, it could very well bring about that "burning coals of kindness laid upon his shoulders." So, how are you going to know if something does or doesn't happen – if you don't bother to try. Prayer is very powerful. I'm not saying you have to be a Christian, why – you could be a pagan too!

    February 25, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  8. TOM

    Praying for your enemies and turning the other cheek to compassion rather than hate does not in any way mean that you have to allow terrorists to take advantage of, destroy, defile, or step on you in any way. You still have the right to live, love, prosper, and enjoy the liberty of freedom that you enjoy on this planet. Do not take this "adopt a terrorist" as a bleeding heart liberal effort to give into or accept deplorable acts, it is simply a mechanism to help people not allow themselves to be further driven into hatred which eventually leads one to commit unmindful acts themselves.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Thomas

      Great clarification! Thank you.

      February 28, 2011 at 9:48 am |
  9. locdvegan

    this is scary...not that there's a site where you can adopt a terrorist to pray for but the number of people on here claiming Atheist with claims that prayer doesn't work...how would know? b/c one day you prayed to win the lottery but didn't? i could care less why you have YOUR beliefs (or non) but the insensitive crap i'm seeing on here is flat out disrespectful...this calls for prayer for all of you mocking Christians, Muslims, Catholics, and anyone else that believes that prayer does work...

    February 25, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Blaqb0x

      Your logic is false. You can't PROVE SOMETHING DOESN'T EXIST. Try proving a tea pot is not in orbit about Jupiter. Try proving unicorns do not exist. It is upon the person making the claim (in this case, prayer) to provide evidence that it is true. Of course, proving it would be quite simple. Pray for at least one amputee soldier to grow his whole arm back and show it was due to prayer.

      February 25, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • joe

      Yes... prayer... God is a cruel beast isn't he? You're praying for your side to god... Terrorists are praying to their side to god... and nothing gets accomplished. Did you ever stop and consider how ridiculous the whole thing is?

      February 25, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  10. Alverant

    “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.

    OK Bruce, how about some proof that it IS a valid way to address problems. So far all I've seen is that nothing works like prayer. That means that a person doing nothing is just as effective as a person praying.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • Thomas

      Collapse of Soviet Communism began with prayer in Poland and concluded with prayer in Romania. *Nine Days that Changed the World* by Newt Gingrich illuminates the impact of praying people.

      March 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • Thomas

      See Rev. 8:1-5 for a discussion about the effects of prayer (building up and being unpredictable).

      March 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  11. Virologist

    Does anyone know that if my comment is awaiting moderation if that means it most likely won't be posted? If so I will rewrite it and post again.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:48 am |
    • opus

      You are correct. The filter is automatic. Your comment is in permanent limbo. Rewrite it.

      February 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Some Tips for U

      bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN "awaiting moderation" filter:

      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.

      NOTE: You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in Car-se, etc.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-ntthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
      sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.
      Allowed words / not blocked at all:

      raping (ra-pe is not ok)
      shat (sh-@t is not ok)
      The CNN / WordPress filter also filters your EMAIL address and NAME as well – so you might want to check those.

      I have found the best way to re-submit is to hit the back button, look for and fix the problem, delete your cookies, and then hit "post".

      If you don't want to use dashes or other characters and seriously want your words to remain correct, you can paste in the proper code strings to take the place of any letter. To do this, either google "html ent-ities" (without the dash) also known as unicode strings or go to "w3schools.com/tags/ref_ascii.asp".

      Look for simple tables that show the alphabet with the associated character string and replace any letter with the string – and it will post the correct letter without falling afoul of the nasty filter.
      Example: fuck (I used the characters &,#,1,1,7,; to form the "u") 😯
      Also: there is no "moderator" as many people like to assume. The filter is automatic. As is the "report abuse" button – it deletes the post without human review after a certain number of hits. This is not to say that CNN might actually have someone check things once in a while, but they do not, I'm pretty sure, "moderate" the comments in this anonymous blog as far as I can tell.

      p.s. All "Smilies" supported by this blog can be found at: en.support.wordpress.com/smilies/

      February 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  12. Sybaris

    Ban religion

    February 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Dan

      ....because banning religion worked so well in China and Russia. They were free of corruption, greed, violence, and the tendency to exploit their fellow man.

      February 25, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • HeavenSent

      LOL ... so sayeth the gospel of Sybaris!

      Carnal thinkers at their clueless best.

      February 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Olaf

      Yes, let's ban all religions for the criminal conspiracies that they are!

      We can start just as soon as their twisted majority lets us do so.

      In the meantime, we are free to insult them! We have proof that none of their gods exist!
      Let's burn every so-called holy book in the world and use the energy to heat our homes.
      They like to give them away for free, you know. 😀

      February 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  13. Jen

    I'm proud to be a Sabbath keeping Christian and I truly believe prayers do help but if a battle comes to your front door, you have the right to defend yourself and others. It is not murder if it is out of self defense. It is murder if it's thought out and acted upon. The Bible addresses this. Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but [rather] give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance [is] mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. I have to laugh as I read some of these Liberal posts. Isn't being Liberal about tolerating everything? How come you Liberals can't tolerate Christians, then? How hypocritical.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Katie

      Now wait just a minute, I'm Christian and my politics run on the Liberal side, please don't lump me with hypocrisy.

      February 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Alverant

      "Isn't being Liberal about tolerating everything?"
      No. It's about justice for everyone. It's about not tolerating evil and not cozying up to it the way conservatives do when it suits their interests.

      And FYI, liberals do tolerate christians. Just not the ones who advocate violence out of hatred.

      February 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • joe

      Wait, wait... I'm not Liberal, but being Liberal has nothing to do with tolerating religion. And getting advice from a book is ludicrous.

      February 25, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • TOM

      Compassion has nothing to do with letting people murder you. The article sets up a convenient stage for this type of thinking and everyone is taking the bait it seems. Praying for your enemies and turning the other cheek to compassion rather than hate does not in any way mean that you have to allow terrorists to take advantage of, destroy, defile, or step on you in any way. You still have the right to live, love, prosper, and enjoy the liberty of freedom that you enjoy on this planet. Do not take this "adopt a terrorist" as a bleeding heart liberal effort to give into or accept deplorable acts, it is simply a mechanism to help people not allow themselves to be further driven into hatred which eventually leads one to commit unmindful acts themselves.

      February 25, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Amen Jen. Amen.

      February 25, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
  14. Katie

    *sigh* I knew this was gonna turn into a fire-fight – I count myself as Christian, but short of every terrorist in the world suddenly being treated to a huge epiphany because of prayer, I fail to see what this is going to do.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Dan

      How can you count yourself as a Christian if you don't believe in prayer? Have you read the words of Jesus? Time and time again he said that his followers can do nothing without God. He told them to pray, he went alone by himself to pray, he taught them to pray. If you consider yourself a follower of Christ, shouldn't you follow his teachings?

      February 25, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • rabidmob

      Katie, prayer is for communication between yourself and god, not between you and this other person to try and convince them to stop their ways.

      February 25, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  15. Cents

    Religious believers are the terrorists of humanity.
    Maybe one day we will be safe from them.

    They twist everything and destroy humanity one gullible brain at a time.
    Now they number in the billions.
    With that many, humanity is doomed. Maybe no one will survive.
    What a pathetic species we are! Squabbling over things that do not exist and that are not true!
    I'm ready for a meteor strike. How about you guys?

    February 25, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Aaron

      Thank you chairman Mao for your wise words of wisdom. Maybe you could have your friend Stalin speak next.

      February 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm |


    February 25, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  17. leo galvan

    If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 1 John 4:20 "I love God" , is one of the biggest disclaimer or lie in the Christian community now a days.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Jim P.

      "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26

      This is why some of us do not take youe holy book very seriously. It says one thing on one page and the opposite on another. In factm in Proverbs at one point it says the exact opposite to a maxim in the next verse.

      February 25, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • rabidmob

      Taken out of context Jim, sure. It's not sarcasm, nor is it a metaphor, the reason for this hatred is due to hating sin.

      February 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Frogist

      @rabidmob: If only the book told us which ones were literal and which ones metaphor. Otherwise it's just your interpretation against Jim P.'s. Without that, how can you be so sure that Jim's isn't the right way to look at it and yours wrong?

      February 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  18. Trin

    One person's actions do more than the prayer of millions. Give me a break.

    February 25, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • geauxLSUtigers


      February 25, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  19. Maryland, USA

    My, how far we've come from "Kill a Commie for Christ."

    February 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • rabidmob

      Very noble and yes that is in following with the teachings of the new testament.

      February 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  20. JohnR

    Ok, they have been doing this for a couple of years, it seems. What will they take as evidence that this too has failed?

    February 25, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • BRod

      You can't talk sense to crazy people.

      February 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
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About this blog

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.