Bush helped stage 9/11, claims provocative new theological book



The Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC) in the USA has staunchly defended its controversial decision to publish a book that has caused anger by suggesting the United States government may have helped stage the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as a pretext for going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Saying the purpose of the book is to "provoke serious discussion and reflection",

PPC officials – in an official statement – also rejected the idea that publishing David Ray Griffin's ‘Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action’ is the fault of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has caused further damage to the troubled denomination.

Griffin is a retired professor of philosophy and theology at the Claremont School of Theology in California. Well-known and respected in the academic field, he is also one of the founders of the ‘9/11 Truth Movement’ and has stirred such controversy before with two previous books from other publishers: ‘The New Pearl Harbour: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11’ and ‘The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions’.

In his preface to the 192-page ‘Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11’, Griffin writes: "One of our main tasks as theologians is to deal with current events in light of the fact that our first allegiance must be to God, who created and loves all people -indeed all forms of life. If we believe that our political and military leaders are acting on the basis of policies that are diametrically opposed to divine purposes, it is incumbent upon us to say so."

Presbyterians Today magazine has commissioned Alan Wisdom, vice-president of the right-wing Institute on Religion and Democracy, and a Presbyterian elder, to review the book. His review will be posted on the Presbyterians Today website in the next few days.

"The views expressed in the book are Griffin's alone," said Presbyterian Publishing Corporation Board chair Kenneth Godshall.

He continued: "PPC provides a variety of viewpoints in the books we publish. A few of them from time to time are controversial. This particular book is the work of an independent author and in no way represents the views of the denomination or PPC itself."

Conservative groups in the Presbyterian Church (USA) have maintained a steady drumbeat of criticism in recent weeks, attacking the book, attributing its publication to the denomination and claiming its publication is further dividing the church.

PPC President and Publisher Davis Perkins rejected those charges, saying that critics "rather than engaging the content of Griffin's work, have chosen to cloud the issue by claiming, falsely, that the book was published by the PC (USA)."

PPC is one of six agencies of the PC (USA). It is separately incorporated and receives no funding from the denomination. Its board of directors is elected by the PC (USA) General Assembly but operates with complete editorial autonomy.

"Under the Westminster John Knox Press (WJK) imprint, PPC publishes a theologically and religiously diverse selection of books that extends far beyond the Reformed tradition and the official policies and stances of the PC (USA)," the 11 August 2006 statement said. "Books specifically for the PC (USA) are published under our Geneva Press imprint."

Griffin's book was published under the internationally-respected Westminster John Knox imprint.

"WJK publishes a plethora of books by non-Presbyterians without being branded as disloyal to the interests of the PC (USA)," Perkins said.

"For example, no one ever imagined WJK's popular ‘The Gospel According to The Simpsons’ reflected the 'official position' of the denomination on matters of theology or polity, and, similarly, there was never a word of criticism about WJK publishing the works of a major Jewish scholar like Dr Jacob Neusner or an evangelical Anglican like Bishop of Durham N. T. Wright.

"This is what academic/trade publishers do, and this is what the General Assembly intended for PPC and the WJK imprint when it unanimously approved the documents that created the organization," Perkins said.

He explained: "There are close to 1,500 titles in the WJK backlist portfolio and the spectre that they are in or out of kilter with a so-called official Presbyterian position has never been a serious issue."

Perkins acknowledged the controversy Griffin's book has stirred up. "We expect people to take issue with our books from time to time," he said, "but what is disappointing is that the most vocal critics of the work to date are dismissing it without having even bothered to read it.”

He went on: “What we intended when we published this WJK book was not that people would necessarily agree or disagree with the author's thesis, but that his well-researched argument would provoke serious discussion and reflection among Christians in this country who care about these issues. We feel this author - and all our authors - deserves this courtesy."

Godshall agreed. "PPC and its predecessor imprints have published books by David Ray Griffin for many years," he said. "In his new book, Griffin provides a theological response to contemporary political events that many readers will find uncomfortable, even objectionable. We invite Presbyterians to read the book before making up their minds."