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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. Scraxkat

    We need to pray for prayer to be allowed in schools! It never hurt anyone, Nor did wearing a cross in school.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Igor

      Prayer is allowed in schools. School sponsored prayer isn't. Get your facts straight.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  2. R

    "Love your enemy". What is the point, where you consider some one enemy? When you consider some one who do not agree with you as wrong and then pray for him/her, is just hypocrisy. In a way you are actually praying for person to be agree with you. Thus "love your enemy" is morally wrong thing to do. "Increase your tolerance level" is best way to go. Chrstianity, Islam and all such religions believe in one God/Allah are fundamentally wrong.
    Here are some food for thought.
    1. Accept that others have right to believe what they want. Even if you agree or not. Like Linus Torvald said abourt DRM. (Check on google for more info).
    2. Live with tolerance and do not get bothered by any outside influence. Be IN(Self) DEPENDENT. Meditation can help here.
    3. Do not bother others and above all "Be the change what you want to see in the world"....Gandhi.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  3. John

    I think this is a great idea for the spiritually involved, but I know it will not do anything. The terrorists' cause for their actions are much more complex than most Westerners give them credit for.

    Islam requires its adherents to expand the Umma (or community of believers). Islamic fundamentalists hate the idea of a society living in prosperity without following Islam like our secular societys. =(

    February 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  4. Enoch_knows_whos_names_are_written

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    the wisdom to know the difference;
    and a clear shot when I get the opportunity
    to take one of these extremist b@st@rd out.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  5. Sam

    I forgot, Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  6. Sam

    My terrorist prayer list:
    GW Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  7. Pliny

    Dear God....remember how you did that thing with the 10 plagues?
    Well...here's what I was thinking.....

    February 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  8. LOL SUCH IDIOCY

    THERE ARE PLENTY OF GANGS, MAFIA AND SERIAL KILLERS IN THE USA.

    WHY NOT PRAY FOR THEM?????? THEY ACTUALLY COMMIT WAAAAYYYY MORE MURDERS THEN 9/11 EVER DID.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Scraxkat

      I agree

      February 25, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  9. Rick

    For those of you who do not believe in the power of God to change an individual I refer you
    to David Berkowitz, previously known as the Son of Sam. David is a Christian who now shares
    the love of Christ with his inmates and the world. None of us deserve to be in heaven. Christ, as our mediator,
    has eternally prayed and acted to bring us to God. Nothing is impossible with God.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Igor

      I did notice many find God (Muslim or otherwise) in prison. This is of little avail to those who wish they found that god before committing the acts that landed them there in the first place. Unless of course "finding god" landed them there in the first place. The the reverse is true.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • John

      Gotta love when someone cites a serial killer who turned Christian AFTER he got caught as an example of why religion is good. lol. You have ot to be joking!

      February 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  10. oneshot onekill

    Pray for a gun and a clear shot.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  11. Padmanabham

    One of the vedic sayings is "Please destroy the destructive thoughts of my enemies".

    February 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  12. eBaker

    I pray, dear Lord, that you smite all Islamic and their extended families while they sleep. Amen.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Jeff

      Actually, I'd pray that the Lord would lead them to the truth of Jesus Christ.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  13. Jesus

    Me so holy!

    February 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  14. WIll III

    I never knew the true mind of racism and bigotry till I got on the internet and read comments from all over the world. Thanks.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Mephisto1

      Isn't free speech wonderful?

      February 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  15. Matt

    Yes.. Wishing for the Invisible Magic Sky Man to stop the terrorists will surely help! They keep wishing to theirs that they win too. Guess they all cancel out in the end..

    February 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • avdin

      Or we can rely on survival of the fittest where, as rescources become scarces, we fight even bloodier wars. People the world over claim that that is the real reason the US invaded Iraq.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  16. John

    Christians can quote from the Bible to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" all they want. The Quran teaches quite the opposite and thats what the terrorists follow. It's all based on myth taken for reality and has been nothing but destructive since it started.

    February 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Igor

      Which is exactly why there are still Christian witch hunts in parts of Africa and two Christian denominations were, until recently, engaged in escalating acts of terrorism. Must have been all the love. Violence can be easily justified when you base it on an ideology that has no test in reality. The particular flavor of belief usually doesn't matter.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  17. Dindy.....

    Prayers helps if what we ask is correct in God"s eye. It is always God"s will not ours. It is always better to pray for sinners.Jesus said it clearly.To release someone from a bondage evil spirit we have to rebuke the evil spirit in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul says we have to wear God"s armor to do that. That way we get the authority to do it. People are empty without Jesus (love) so the Devil get space to enter.
    To chase the spirit of evil(Devil) need the opposite spirit of Jesus so Holy.!!!

    February 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  18. 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 12:51 pm |
    • Jeremy

      I think all religion is silly, but this is the most idiotic thing I've read in recent memory.

      February 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Bsol9791

      I think s/he was joking.

      CNN posts an article about loving the people who kill you and they post a comment about "curing" Muslims of their faith by politely informing them that everything they consider holy is ridiculous? Naivete, meet naivete, right?

      Or they could just be mentally handicapped. Could go either way, really.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Mephisto1

      We could also make them eat bacon.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Reality

      It is called the Great Angelic Con Game:

      Joe Smith had his Moroni.

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.
      Some added references to "tink-erbells".

      "Latter-day Saints also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Apparently hallu-cinations did not stop with Joe Smith.

      newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."

      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."
      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."
      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      For added information see the review at:
      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

      February 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  19. mudphud

    Someone once said, "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

    February 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • saganhill

      Spoken like a true pacifist.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Dallas

      Just checking, but you do realize this poster is referring to the Christ, right? And, he wasn't a pacifist per se, but he did teach love and forgiveness.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  20. Virologist

    Prayers can humanize. Prayers can clear the mind of unkind thoughts. Prayers can lead the one praying to compassion. Even if prayers don't do anything to alter the behavior of others, they can impact the ones doing the praying

    February 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Vikki

      Which in turn will positively affect the lives of those we come into contact with...beautiful!

      February 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Virologist

      I can't figure the filter out. That is basically what I've been trying to post for about 30 attempts. If a new post is too similar to one that was blocked does it get blocked for being similar even after offensive words are removed? The only difference here is that I broke it into more sentences. CNN seriously needs to fix the filter. Just because we are talking about controversial and potentially offensive topics doesn't mean we are being offensive.

      February 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Something

      Virologist,

      See page 4 under your 11:48 post for a list of some of the verboten words/word fragments which trip the filter.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • another tip for you

      You need to delete your cookies, "virologist". Read the tips I sent you. Examine the large number of perfectly innocuous words that fall afoul of the filter.
      Then you may try again.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Something

      another tip for you,

      I never delete my cookies. I just go back an fix the goofy words and resubmit... seems to work fine.

      February 25, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Brad

      Has anyone asked how these people who pray for the terrorists to not bomb (or do whatever they consider "terror") will react when they realize that their prayers had no impact?

      No statistically valid or methodologically valid (and impartial) study has ever shown that there is any impact of intercessory prayer on the person for whom the prayer is intende (including praying for people to get better from health conditions). NOW, what has been show is that prayer does have a NEGATIVE impact! It negatively impacts the person praying for others (in the one study people are praying for sick people to get better) when the prayer doesn't help the situation for which they prayed (when you pray for someone and they die anyway, it has a negative psychological impact on the person praying).

      I don't even want to know how this website can hope to "prove" that the prayers are working! That is a different discussion for another time!

      February 25, 2011 at 1:35 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.