Bronze-level articleChuck Colson

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Chuck Colson (October 16, 1931 – April 21, 2012) was the chief counsel for Richard Nixon, and was sent to prison in Alabama on a one to three year sentence (he served seven months) following a plea bargain to avoid going to court over the Watergate scandal. He pled guilty to obstruction of justice by leaking confidential information from the FBI file of Daniel Ellsberg to the media (who had, himself, leaked the Pentagon Papers to the media).


Conversion to born again Christianity

Just before entering prison, he was given a copy of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity, which prompted him into becoming an evangelical Christian. At the time, his conversion story was considered by some to be a scam to reduce his prison time, although he seems to have stuck with it and been entirely sincere. His conversion was accepted as genuine by Senator Harold Hughes (Democrat of Iowa), himself a born again Christian who had until then been one of Colson's fiercest critics, leading to them becoming friends.

His 1977 autobiography Born Again, and the subsequent 1978 movie of the same name which bombed with film critics, were based on his conversion.

Current activities

He was until his recent (2012) demise an outspoken evangelical who ran the "Prison Fellowship" ministry, the Wilberforce Forum, and a daily radio broadcast called BreakPoint. He was a 1993 winner of the Templeton Prize and were given fifteen honorary doctorates.

Colson was a staunch supporter of intelligent design, an opponent of gay marriage, and a supporter of the War in Iraq. He was one of the five signatories to the "Land Letter" in 2002 stating that a "just war" case existed in favor of the war, giving George W. Bush theological sanction to invade Iraq. The other signatories were Richard Land, Carl D. Herbster, James Kennedy, and Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright.

In November 2009, Chuck Colson helped draft the Manhattan Declaration, calling for civil disobedience against laws affirming abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

He was also the author of the 1995 novel Gideon's Torch, an anti-abortion novel which included violence against abortion clinic doctors as a plot device, although this was allegedly Colson denouncing this violence as a way of calling on government to do something about abortion. And, in an April 11, 2006 radio commentary, he claimed abortion was the real cause of illegal immigration by creating a labor shortage due to "40 million sacrificed since 1973".[1]

Recently, in a push to promote his latest book The Faith, Colson engaged in dialogue with a number of atheist bloggers.[2][3][4]

Despite his hard-religious right activies, he has been an ally of liberals on at least one issue, sentencing and prison reform. He opposes tough-on-crime and lock-em-up policies and calls instead for "restorative justice," arguing in favor of restitution and hopefully reconciliation with the victim rather than incarceration[5].

See Also


  2. Kazim at Atheist Experience
  3. Zondervan
  4. Kazim at Atheist Experience (reponses)
  5. David Plotz: Charles Colson, How a Watergate crook became America's greatest Christian conservative. It should be noted however that this same article states that Colson's real goal was "to convert prisoners to Christianity, not necessarily to rehabilitate them"
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