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David Ray Griffin: How a Retired Theologian Became a High Priest of the 9/11 Truth Movement

According to the theology of one of the leading experts of "9/11 truth," America is in the grips of a struggle with "demonic evil."

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Now in his 70s, Griffin has 11 9/11 Truth books to his name, with titles such as New Pearl Harbor: 9/11, the Cover-up and the Exposé and The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions. His research disputing the government's official account of 9/11 has made perhaps the most headway in terms of getting mainstream media coverage. The 9/11 "Truth Purveyor" addressed the SF commonwealth club in 2006, and has appeared on C-SPAN, ABC News Radio, and MSNBC. He claims to have been a guest on over 300 talk shows. 

Griffin has been on the receiving end of many an attempt to debunk his 9/11 research and his methods of argument, from Popular Mechanics to Chip Berlet, researcher and expert on the far-right and conspiracy theories, to Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, who engaged in a 24,000-word exchange on 9/11 with Griffin for  AlterNet in 2008 that I organized. While I personally disagree with many aspects of Griffin's 9/11 Truth arguments, I believe that an exploration into his theology and religious background offers a useful alternative approach to understanding what drives the 9/11 conspiracy theories and their adherents. Not only this, the quest for truth and the debate about truth often arrive at a spiritual crossroads -- they can take the form of a religious quest, or an attempt for a social reconciliation with God.

Griffin’s Christian Faith in 9/11

“If you are open to the grace of honest inquiry and the risk of following the historical Jesus in confronting the evils of empire, this rigorously argued book is a MUST READ," blurbs the former CIA analyst-turned Christian progressive leader Ray McGovern on the cover of Griffin's third  book, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11. Published in 2006, Christian Faith starts by laying out his case that the government’s official account of 9/11 is false. He insists that the argument that the Bush administration carried out the attacks remains “unrefuted.” Citing the media’s failure to educate the public, Griffin writes that “there is, however, another means through which this information could be conveyed—through the churches.”

Christianity is a fitting medium for spreading 9/11 Truth, Griffin says, because the Bush administration had the same imperial motives that propelled the ancient Roman empire: “Let us look at the Roman Empire as a basis for understanding both the nature of America’s empire and the person our religious tradition has called the Christ—our central revelation of God to whom we have pledged our ultimate loyalty.” Griffin casts what he sees as Jesus’ prayer — known as the Lord’s Prayer — as rooted in the struggles of his people at the time, victims of “demonic” Roman imperialism. “In proclaiming the coming kingdom of God...Jesus was proclaiming an end to the present subservience of the people of Israel to the Roman empire and its local collaborators,” Griffin writes.

Griffin casts the American government as literally demonic, “driving the world in a direction that is diametrically opposed to divine purposes.” 

What does Griffin perceive as demonic behavior? US refusal to abolish nuclear weapons despite the knowledge that use of them could eliminate the human population, and resistance to transitioning from a carbon-based energy system to a sustainable one — that, to Griffin, is demonic.

Demonic power harnessed by humans, in Griffin’s view,  came about through competition between tribes, especially in recent millennia. He writes that “perhaps the first great increase in demonic power” occurred in the Bronze Age 6,000 years ago, spiking “near the outset of the Iron Age 3,000 years ago.” Modern civilization has taken the demonic achievements of the past to almost inconceivable heights, with the emergence of “computerized weapons and the drive for an all-inclusive empire.”