Should Christians Pray for Terrorists?

A new Congressional report released on Wednesday describes homegrown Islamic terrorists who target U.S. military communities as a “severe and emerging threat.”

The report, compiled by Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee indicates that there have been at least 33 plots against U.S. military communities since 9/11 and that the likelihood of another attack, such as that of the Fort Hood shooting, is a “severe threat.”

The increased threat of homegrown terrorism has added suspicion and fear to American society and many people, including Christians, struggle with how to deal with the issue.

"Military communities in the U.S. have recently become the most sought-after targets of violent Islamist extremists seeking to kill Americans in their homeland," King (R-N.Y.) said in his opening statements at a committee meeting today, according to ABC News. "We cannot stand idly by while our heroes in uniform are struck down in the place they feel safest."

The most notable homegrown terrorist attack against the military community in the U.S. occurred in November 2009 at Fort Hood, Texas. U.S. Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire at the fort killing 13 and injuring 29 fellow soldiers. It was later revealed later that Hasan had close connections to radical Islamists in Yemen. However, the Department of Defense has been accused of downplaying Hasan’s Islamists connections by calling the massacre an episode of “workplace violence.” Sen. Susan Collins addressed the committee and decried the DoD’s decision to put political correctness above national security.

Prominent GOP candidates vying for the White House in 2012 agree with Collins and have taken a hard-line approach against terrorism. Candidates such as Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Mitt Romney have all come out saying they would not rule out the use of waterboarding, a technique widely considered to be torture, against suspected terrorists. They have also all come out in support of keeping Guantanamo Bay, a detention center for terrorists, open and allowing suspected terrorists to be held indefinitely without trial.

All candidates listed above – with the exception of Romney – have touted their Christian faith as a reason he or she should be elected as president. This then begs the question: what should a Christian’s attitude toward a suspected terrorist be? And should that be reflected in a political position on the issue?

Thomas Bruce, spokesman for the Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer program, talked to The Christian Post on how he believes Christians, whether conservative or liberal, should approach the topic of terrorism. Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer gives citizens profiles of suspected terrorists and asks them to pray that Jesus may change their hearts.

“I think praying for people, especially our enemy, takes away their power over us. Jesus’ disciple, John, said that the opposite of fear is love. Love casts out fear. We are supposed to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.”

Bruce said Jesus understood that if we began praying for our enemies, then that would eventually turn into a tool that would help us overcome our fears. Jesus, according to Bruce, understood that He could not just tell his disciples to “have no fear” but that he must give them a process, a tool, by which to do that.

Bruce made it clear that having mercy on the enemies of Christ does not necessarily equate into political policy.

“We are talking about two different kingdoms. There’s a kingdom of government and politics and then there’s the Kingdom of God.”

“The American government is proper to take physical means to protect itself and its citizens against threats. I am grateful for the police and the military for their protection. But that’s not the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The thing about terrorism is that it’s more than just a physical battle, it’s a spiritual battle.”

“The government is called to administer justice. Justice in this world is important. We all want evil doers to be punished and that is the role of the government. However, it’s not the role of the church. God says he will make it rain on the unjust, but that happens after we die. We can have hope that the imperfect justice that the government administers – the government is not perfect – will be corrected and God will execute perfect justice in heaven.”

Bruce acknowledges that there are Christians on both sides of the political aisle, both claiming to be using God’s Word when dealing with the enemy. Christians on the Right typically focus on the concept of justice. Christians on the Left typically focus more on the concept of mercy.

Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer is seeking to bridge that gap between the two Christian perspectives.

“Terrorists want to kill Americans, regardless of if they are Republican or Democrat.”

Bruce continued, saying that Christians must overcome political differences and gather together for a common purpose which is to spread God’s Word.

 “One of the things I’ve noticed is that among Jesus’ disciples he had zealots, who advocated for small government and wanted to overthrow Rome, and he had tax collectors who advocated for big government and collected money to give to Rome. Among his closest followers, Jesus was able to bring together people who had very different views about the role of government.”

“Jesus’ kingdom is an eternal perspective that transcends political division.”

“Praying for our enemies, that’s not a conservative or a liberal thing. It’s a Jesus thing.”

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