The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were orchestrated by the U.S. government, according to a book to be released later this month by Westminster John Knox Press—a division of the denominational publisher for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action is the third book on the subject by David Ray Griffin, a professor emeritus of theology at Claremont School of Theology who is also a well-published and prominent process theologian.
His previous work has influenced Kevin Barrett, a Muslim lecturer for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who has received recent national attention for espousing the theory. Of the 133 members in Wisconsin's legislature, 61 signed a letter to university officials and Gov. James Doyle demanding that Barrett be fired before the fall term begins. He is scheduled to teach about some of the conspiracy theories surrounding September 11 during his 15-week fall course, "Islam: Religion and Culture."
"Without David, I would not just lose my faith in Christianity," Barrett said in an interview with CT. "I would almost lose my faith in the humanity of Christians."
Barrett, who co-founded the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth, and Griffin are both members of Scholars for 9/11 Truth—a non-partisan organization that is "dedicated to exposing falsehoods and to revealing truths behind 9/11."
In his book, Griffin argues the Bush administration planned the events of September 11 so they could provide justification for going to war with Afghanistan and Iraq. He writes that although Christianity began as a specifically anti-empire gospel, the church has been silent about an imperialistic America—which he compares to the Roman Empire.
"I became more convinced that if the truth about 9/11 was going to be exposed, the churches were probably going to have to be involved," Griffin told CT. "If we become convinced that the so-called war on terror is simply a pretext for enlarging the American empire, we have every reason as Christians to try and expose the truth behind 9/11."
Westminster John Knox (WJK) officials said they published Griffin because of the questions that he raised in his previous books, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11, and The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions And Distortions.
"We have a long tradition of being a publisher of somewhat progressive stances on theological and social issues, so it is not out of character for us to do this," said Jack Keller, vice president of publishing at WJK. "Whether or not people were fully persuaded by the arguments, he was certainly raising some interesting issues."
WJK, which has been publishing books by Griffin on theology and philosophy of religion since the 1970s, is part of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, but publishes books that "cover the spectrum of modern religious thought," according to its website.
Griffin said he has not had antagonistic relations with other Christians over his work and wants the church to understand that the mainstream press is presenting a distorted truth.
"My hope is—and my anticipation is—that people across the religious spectrum of Christianity will respond with outrage," Griffin said. "Not outrage against me, but outrage against what has been done in the name of democracy and the name of a Christian nation."
Some Christians, however, think it is foolish for Westminster to give Griffin a platform.
Earl Tilford, a professor of history at Grove City College who specializes in the military and war, said it is dangerous for people who study religion to comment about national security and that Griffin "obviously knows very little about conspiracy theories."
"It does not surprise me that the PC(USA) press would publish his work," said Tilford, the former director of research at the U.S. Army's Strategic Studies Institute. "They are very anti-Israeli and very much inclined to anything that speaks ill of the administration."
James Berkley, the director of Presbyterian Action for Faith and Freedom, said that Westminster's decision to publish Griffin's book "is both laughable and pathetic" and that the publishing company is not ideologically in line with most Presbyterians.
"Their choice to print this seems to be pretty idiosyncratic and kooky," Berkeley said. "What a waste of pages and ink that could have been promoting the Christian gospel and contributing to the health and vitality of the Presbyterian church."
Griffin's next book, 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speaking Out, will not be published by Westminster but by Olive Branch Press, which published his first two books about September 11. It is scheduled for a late August release.