One of my Amazon reviewers attacked me–justly, I think–for not even mentioning David Ray Griffin’s name in CULTS, CONSPIRACIES, AND SECRET SOCIETIES. Griffin taught at the Claremont School of Theology for many years and is the author of a score of distinguished books on process theology. In THE NEW PEARL HARBOR: DISTURBING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND 9/11 and THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT: OMISSIONS AND DISTORTIONS (both published in 2004), he took up the argument that all of the official stories about 9/11 are false–that the US government not only covered up the truth about the attacks but enabled or participated in them.
Griffin is not only a distinguished academic, but a dove whose political leanings are not uncongenial with my own. He is neither a physicist nor a structural engineer nor an aviation expert; most of his arguments about how WTC7 couldn’t have collapsed on its own, why NORAD and the FAA can’t be believed, and how the Pentagon was really attacked by a cruise missile, are neither original or especially convincing. Though true believers will believe otherwise, virtually all of them have been effectively rebutted. But he brings passion, sincerity, and academic prestige to the table–and also, I think, inadvertently proves my point that the deepest impetus for most conspiracy theory is essentially theological. The quote below comes from Griffin’s rejoinder to his fellow theologian Ian Markham, who had reviewed THE NEW PEARL HARBOR in the journal Conversations in Religion and Theology.
At the center of our own nation’s propaganda since its inception has been the myth of American “exceptionalism”, according to which America is free from the sins and weaknesses that led the nations of the Old World into corruption, war, and imperialism. One expression of this myth has been the widespread idea….that enormous power in American hands is not dangerous because our nation, unlike others, uses its power to promote freedom, democracy, and human rights, not selfish interests.
Although this myth was traditionally based on the idea that America is a uniquely Christian nation, it is actually, from a Christian perspective, a heretical idea, because it contradicts the doctrine of original sin—no less than did the Communist doctrine that “the dictatorship of the proletariat” would be salutary because the proletariat was free from the selfishness of the bourgeoisie……we face a situation analogous to that confronted by the Confessing Church in Germany…..no task is more important for theologians today than the attempt to make that conflict clear. I am also convinced that one of the most effective ways to do this would be to expose the truth about 9/11.