Thursday, February 03, 2011

"Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth" (!)

I just stumbled upon a website called "Patriots Question 9/11" - people who deny the official report of the 9/11 Commission and accuse the Bush administration either of knowing the attacks were coming and allowing them to happen, or of outright planning the attacks, arguing that the World Trade Center towers could not have been destroyed by the airplanes that flew into them, but were felled by "controlled explosions."

I started scrolling through the names and what these people had to say, and came across the names of several well-known academics in the study of religion and theology. Another website, "Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth" lists the names of more academics (as well as a lot of ministers) who agree with this position.

On the Patriots Question 9/11 site, the first person listed is David Ray Griffin, emeritus professor in the philosophy of religion at Claremont, who has written several books denying the official story of 9/11. From a Publishers Weekly review of one of his books his viewpoint is apparent: "He offers two mind-numbing versions of an 'alternative conspiracy theory': that the Bush administration 'deliberately' failed to prevent the attacks or, more chillingly, 'was actively involved in the planning and execution of the attacks.'"

Others who commend Griffin or who signed various "9/11 truth" statements include:

• The late William Sloane Coffin

Rosemary Ruether
"Griffin writes in a precise and careful fashion, avoiding inflammatory rhetoric. He argues for a high probability for the Bush's administrations complicity with allowing and facilitating the attacks, based not on any one conclusive piece of evidence, but the sheer accumulation of all of the data. He concludes by calling for a genuinely independent investigative effort that would examine all this evidence. ...

"I personally found Griffin's book both convincing and chilling. If the complicity of the Bush Administration to which he points is true, then Americans have a far greater problem on their hands than even the more ardent anti-war critics have imagined. If the administration that would do this, what else would they do to maintain and expand their power?"
John Cobb, also of Claremont (from the "Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth" statement)
"A significant moral challenge has emerged due to glaring discrepancies between the official version of the events of September 11, 2001, and the results of extensive independent research by individuals with relevant scientific or professional expertise. . . . As a result of this extensive research carried out by scientists and professionals, it can now be seen that the official account of 9/11 is false beyond any reasonable doubt. ... Because the false account of 9/11 has led to [numerous] evils, it is incumbent on religious leaders, once they realize that the official account is a lie, to speak out."
• Joseph Hough (Union Theological Seminary)

• Fr. Daniel Berrigan - signatory of the "War is Illegal" statement.
Faced with the choice between a war, that according to some western leaders, will last for many years or a possible peaceful transformation we support the following demands: ...

International investigation of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. They are used as the central justification for the "War on Terror", but well documented evidence shows that the official explanation of 9/11 cannot be correct.
• Carter Heyward, Professor Emerita, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass., who writes about Griffin:
Are we brave enough to read this nerve-wracking book, one of the most important theological texts of our time? Rooted in the longstanding belief that Christians share responsibility for shaping a more justice-loving world, Griffin makes a strong case that the real "conspiracy theory" about 9/11 is the Bush Administration’s silly notion that nineteen young Arab men could have pulled it off. Griffin helps us wrestle with questions that are almost too much to bear, yet which may empower us, if we dare, to build a more truthful and, over time, more deeply moral nation and world.
• Robert Ellwood, emeritus professor of religion at USC.

• Richard Horsley (University of Massachusetts), who writes about one of Griffin's books:
Do American Christians want the United States to act like the New Rome, invading other countries to impose its imperial rule and its control of other peoples’ resources? That is just what the U.S. is doing, increasingly so since 9/11, explains David Griffin. In this gripping summary of evidence for the truth behind 9/11 and the 9/11 Commission report, Griffin makes a compelling case that the imperial practices of the American government have become a destructive force in the world. And he clarifies the biblical and theological basis for Christians to challenge the resurgent American imperialism that often claims divine blessing on its destructive actions.
• Walter Wink, professor emeritus, Auburn Theological Seminary, who is a signatory of the Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth statement

• Mahmoud Ayoub, emeritus professor, Temple University, who also signed the Religious Leaders for 9/11 truth statement

• Carol P. Christ (signed the Religious Leaders for 9/11 truth statement)

I've mentioned these names either because I've heard of them, they are prominent in certain areas of religious studies, or because they had a personal impact on me when I was a student. I'm shocked to find that they applaud Griffin's shoddy scholarship and convoluted conspiracy theories. Rosemary Ruether's book on Christian anti-semitism,"Faith and fratricide: the theological roots of anti-Semitism" had a great influence on me in graduate school. I first encountered Carol Christ's work when I was an undergraduate at University of California, Santa Cruz, in the late 1970s, and I attended an electrifying feminist spirituality conference where she was the keynote speaker. Carter Heyward was another feminist theologian who influenced me when I was in graduate school. Horsley and Wink are both well-known New Testament scholars. John Cobb is one of the founders of Process Theology.

How could these people fall into the illogical trap of such conspiracy theories? Couldn't they oppose the Bush administration and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq without adhering to such nonsensical theories? I simply don't understand, and I'm at a loss to explain their thought processes.


  1. For some people, politics are everything. When, for example, the USSR made its pact with the Nazis, true believes among the Communists espoused kind views about the Nazis. Many, perhaps nearly all, did so without missing a beat in their thinking. Such is the power of politics, especially when it takes on a religious character, as with the Nazis and Communists.

    So, we have political types today doing pretty much the same thing. If the facts do not fit, then so much the worse for the facts. And, when you are dealing with those who brew their politics with religious devotion, you can always expect facts to take a back seat to politics.

    I might add: I opposed at least the Iraq war. But, I also consider the possibility, most especially now that we have revolts which seem predicated on the exact things asserted by people like Natan Sharansky occurring, that my opposition was based more on pre-conceived notions than on the possibility that Sharansky and his group better understood the world than I do. I am still thinking about it.

    I might also note that, even if Sharansky turns out to be correct - a distinct possibility -, it may still turn out that it is a very bad thing for the Jewish people. Which is to say, he may be half right. However, the Antisemitic virus is so virulent among the world's Arabs that the people will act on the ideologies in that world that advocate killing all Jews - as the Islamist do, for example. So, there is a lot to think about here. However, it may turn out, either way, that we denied facts in opposing the war, facts that people like Sharansky faced.

    Food for thought, in any event.

  2. Thanks! It's crisper than the old one.