World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Charles Colson

Article Id: WHEBN0000410934
Reproduction Date:

Title: Charles Colson  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Watergate timeline, White House horrors, Nancy Pearcey, White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, Richard John Neuhaus
Collection: 1931 Births, 2012 Deaths, American Evangelicals, American Lawyers, Brown University Alumni, Buckingham Browne & Nichols Alumni, Burials at Quantico National Cemetery, Christian Writers, Converts to Christianity, Deaths from Cerebral Hemorrhage, Disbarred Lawyers, Editors of Christian Publications, George Washington University Law School Alumni, Intelligent Design Advocates, Lawyers from Boston, Massachusetts, Leaders of Christian Parachurch Organizations, Massachusetts Republicans, Members of the Committee for the Re-Election of the President, People Associated with the Watergate Scandal, People Convicted of Obstruction of Justice, People from Boston, Massachusetts, Presidential Citizens Medal Recipients, Promise Keepers, Templeton Prize Laureates, United States Marines, United States Presidential Advisors, Virginia Republicans, Writers from Boston, Massachusetts
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Charles Colson

Charles Colson
Special Counsel to the President
(for Public Liaison)
In office
November 6, 1969 – March 10, 1973
President Richard Nixon
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by William J. Baroody, Jr.
Personal details
Born Charles Wendell Colson
(1931-10-16)October 16, 1931
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died April 21, 2012(2012-04-21) (aged 80)
Falls Church, Virginia, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy Billings (married 1953, divorced 1964)
Patricia Ann Hughes (married 1964)
Children Wendell Ball II (born 1954), Christian Billings (1956) and Emily Ann (1958)
Alma mater Brown University
Law School
Occupation Lawyer, prisoner, author, activist, Marine, blogger
Religion Christian (Southern Baptist)

Charles "Chuck" Wendell Colson (October 16, 1931 – April 21, 2012) was an Evangelical Christian leader who founded Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint. Prior to his conversion to Christianity, he served as Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973.

Once known as President Nixon's "hatchet man," Colson gained notoriety at the height of the Watergate scandal, for being named as one of the Watergate Seven, and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for attempting to defame Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg.[1] In 1974, he served seven months in the federal Maxwell Prison in Alabama as the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges.[2]

Colson became a Christian in 1973. His mid-life conversion to Christianity sparked a radical life change that led to the founding of his non-profit ministry Prison Fellowship and to a focus on Christian worldview teaching and training. Colson was also a public speaker and the author of more than 30 books.[2] He was the founder and chairman of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, which is "a research, study, and networking center for growing in a Christian worldview", and while he was alive included Colson's daily radio commentary, BreakPoint, which was heard in its original format on more than 1,400 outlets across the United States.[3][4]

Colson was a principal signer of the 1994 Evangelicals and Catholics Together ecumenical document signed by leading Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholic leaders in the United States.

Colson received 15 George W. Bush.


  • Early life, education and family 1
  • Early career 2
  • Nixon administration 3
    • White House duties 3.1
    • "The 'Evil Genius' of an Evil Administration" 3.2
    • New York City Hard Hat Riot 3.3
    • Firebombing the Brookings Institution 3.4
    • Attacking the young Vietnam veteran John Kerry 3.5
  • Watergate and Ellsberg scandals 4
    • Indicted 4.1
    • Introduced to Christianity 4.2
    • Pleads guilty, imprisoned 4.3
    • Interest in prison reform 4.4
  • Career after prison 5
    • Prison ministry 5.1
    • Christian advocacy 5.2
    • Political engagement 5.3
  • Awards and honors 6
  • Later years 7
  • Death 8
    • Reactions to Colson's death 8.1
  • Books 9
  • Curricula 10
  • Notes 11
  • External links 12

Early life, education and family

Colson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Inez "Dizzy" (née Ducrow) and Wendell Ball Colson.[5] He was of Swedish and British descent.[6]

In his youth Colson had seen the charitable works of his parents. His mother cooked meals for the hungry during the Depression and his father donated his legal services to the United Prison Association of New England.[7] Historian Jonathan Aitken notes "Wendell's compassion for prisoners flowed from his Christian ethics, which he instilled into his son's upbringing."[7] Aitken also notes that "Mrs. Colson was proud of being a member of the Episcopal Church and even prouder of her acquaintance with its diocesan bishop, Bishop Fisk, who she thought would be a splendid role model for her Charlie."[7] Aitken holds that his mother's suggestion to the young Colson "You ought to be a minister," were motivated by "social rather than religious" reasons and holds "she had no believing relationship in Christ, and neither did her husband or her son."[7] Noting that "None of them ever read the Bible" and holding that "their extremely rare visits to church were purely nominal", Aitken concludes "religious belief had no part to play in the early upbringing of Charles Colson."[7]

During Jeep for the army.[8]

In 1948, Colson volunteered in the campaign to re-elect then-Governor of Massachusetts, Robert Bradford.

After attending Beta Theta Pi.

Colson's first marriage with Nancy Billings, in 1953, bore three children: Wendell Ball II (born 1954), Christian Billings (1956) and Emily Ann (1958). This marriage ended in divorce in January 1964, after some years of separation. He married Patricia Ann Hughes on April 4, 1964.

Early career

Colson served in the United States Marine Corps from 1953 to 1955, reaching the rank of Captain. From 1955 to 1956, he was Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Material). He then worked on the successful 1960 campaign of Leverett Saltonstall (US Republican Party for the U.S. Senate), and was his Administrative Assistant from 1956 to 1961. In 1961 Colson founded the law firm of Colson & Morin, which swiftly grew to a Boston and Washington, D.C. presence with the addition of former Securities Exchange Commission chairman Edward Gadsby and former Raytheon Company general counsel Paul Hannah. Colson and Morin shortened the name to Gadsby & Hannah in late 1967. Colson left the firm to join the Richard Nixon administration in January 1969.

Nixon administration

White House duties

In 1968, Colson served as counsel to Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon's Key Issues Committee.[9]

On November 6, 1969, Colson was appointed as Special Counsel to President Nixon.[9]

Colson was responsible for inviting influential private special interest groups into the Moral Majority founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell at the urging of Francis Schaeffer and his son Frank Schaeffer during the Jimmy Carter administration.[63]

In November 2009, Colson was a principal writer and driving force behind an ecumenical statement known as the Manhattan Declaration calling on evangelicals, Catholics and Orthodox Christians not to comply with rules and laws permitting abortion, same-sex marriage and other matters that go against their religious consciences.[64] He previously had ignited controversy within Protestant circles for his mid-90s common-ground initiative with conservative Roman Catholics Evangelicals and Catholics Together, which Colson wrote alongside prominent Roman Catholic Richard John Neuhaus. Colson was also a proponent of the Bible Literacy Project's curriculum The Bible and Its Influence for public high school literature courses.[65] Colson has said that Protestants have a special duty to prevent anti-Catholic bigotry.[66]

Political engagement

On October 3, 2002, Colson was one of the co-signers of the Richard D. Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and co-signed by four prominent American evangelical Christian leaders with Colson among them. The letter outlined their theological support for a just war in the form of a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq.

On June 1, 2005, Colson appeared in the national news commenting on the revelation that W. Mark Felt was Deep Throat.[67] Colson expressed disapproval in Felt's role in the Watergate scandal, first in the context of Felt being an FBI employee who should have known better than to disclose the results of a government investigation to the press (violating a fundamental tenet of FBI culture), and second in the context of the trust placed in him (which demanded a more active response, such as a face-to-face confrontation with the FBI director or Nixon or, had that failed, public resignation). His criticism of Felt provoked a harsh response from former Washington Post executive editor Benjamin Bradlee, one of only three individuals to know who Deep Throat was prior to the public disclosure, who said he was "baffled" that Colson and Liddy were "lecturing the world about public morality" considering their role in the Watergate scandal. Bradlee stated that "as far as I'm concerned they have no standing in the morality debate."[68]

Colson also supported the passage of Proposition 8. He signed his name to a full-page ad in the December 5, 2008 The New York Times that objected to violence and intimidation against religious institutions and believers in the wake of the passage of Proposition 8. The ad stated that "violence and intimidation are always wrong, whether the victims are believers, gay people, or anyone else." A dozen other religious and human rights activists from several different faiths also signed the ad, noting that they "differ on important moral and legal questions," including Proposition 8.

Awards and honors

Colson with President Presidential Citizens Medal, December 20, 2008

From 1982 to 1995, Colson received honorary doctorates from various colleges and universities.[43]

In 1990, The Salvation Army recognized Colson with its highest civic award, the Others Award. Previous recipients of the award include Barbara Bush, Paul Harvey, US Senator Bob Dole and the Meadows Foundation.[69]

In 1993, Colson was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, the world's largest cash gift (over $1 million), which is given each year to the one person in the world who has done the most to advance the cause of religion. He donated this prize, as he did all speaking fees and royalties, to further the work of Prison Fellowship.

In 1994, Colson was famously quoted in contemporary Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Heaven in the Real World" as saying:

Where is the hope? I meet millions of people who feel demoralized by the decay around us. The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws we pass, or what great things we do as a nation. Our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people. And that's where our hope is in this country. And that's where our hope is in life.

In 1999, Colson co-authored How Now Shall We Live? with Nancy Pearcey and published by Tyndale House. The book was winner of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association 2000 Gold Medallion Book Award in the "Christianity and Society" category.[70] Colson had previously won the 1993 Gold Medallion award in the "Theology/Doctrine" category for The Body co-authored with Ellen Santilli Vaughn, published by Word, Inc.[71]

On February 9, 2001, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) presented Colson with the Mark O. Hatfield Leadership Award at the Forum on Christian Higher Education in Orlando, Florida. The award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated uncommon leadership that reflects the values of Christian higher education. The award was established in 1997 in honor of US Senator Mark Hatfield, a long-time supporter of the Council.[72]

In 2008, Colson was presented with the George W. Bush.

Later years

In 2000, Florida Governor Jeb Bush reinstated the rights taken away by Colson's felony conviction, including the right to vote.[73]

On March 31, 2012, Colson underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain after he fell ill while speaking at a Christian worldview conference.[74] CBN erroneously reported on April 18, 2012, that he died with his family at his side[75] but Prison Fellowship later (12:30am on April 19 and again at 7:02am) pointed out that he was still alive as of that moment.[76][77]


On April 21, 2012, Colson died in the hospital "from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage".[2][78][79][80][81]

Reactions to Colson's death

Political leaders

Chuck Colson embodied and made possible an immeasurable amount of good in the lives of the people, families and communities he served in bringing a message of faith and hope. Ann and I are praying for Patty, the Colson family and all the people he touched throughout the world who will miss him. – GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney[82]
He played political hardball for keeps. He was ruthless. He wanted to win at all costs and he had a reputation as a person who wanted to win at all costs ... I think if he's going to be remembered for anything, he's going to be remembered as a person who had a complete turnaround in his life. – Vice President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Michael Cromartie[83]
For nearly four decades, Chuck Colson's life and example have been a constant and necessary reminder to those of us in and out of public office of the seductions of power and the rewards of service. His famous redemption story and tireless advocacy on behalf of the marginalized and the outcast have called all of us to a deeper reflection on our lives and priorities. He lives on as a modern model of redemption and a permanent rebuttal to the cynical claim that there are no second chances in life. Our thoughts are with the Colson family, and all who have been touched by the life and service of this extraordinary man. – Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell[82]

Christian leaders

God gifted Chuck Colson in incredible ways, and he gave it all back to the kingdom for Christ. We were honored to work with him and help carry his message to a hurting world, and I am grateful to have gotten the chance to meet and know Chuck. His passion, focus, energy, stamina, drive, and commitment made everyone who came in contact with him a better person and a better warrior for Christ. Our thoughts and prayers are with Patty, Emily, and the rest of his family during this time. – Zondervan President and CEO, Scott Macdonald[84]
I want the world to know about the Chuck Colson I came to know when he was not in the limelight, a person who cared about the little things and ordinary people and not indulging himself with an extravagant lifestyle nor condoning wastefulness. For me, Chuck’s faithfulness in such private matters gave credibility to his public message. The more I got to know him, the more I respected him. – adjunct professor of Historical Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and theological editor on The Faith, Stan Gundry[85]


(This is not a complete list. Colson had a long list of publications and collaborations, including over 30 books which have sold more than 5 million copies.[86] He also wrote forewords for several other books.)

1995 Gideon's Torch, Word Publishing, ISBN 0-8499-1146-X
Year Title Publisher ISBN
1976 Born Again Chosen Books ISBN 978-0-8007-9459-0
1979 Life Sentence Chosen Books ISBN 0-8007-8668-8
1983 Loving God[87] HarperPaperbacks ISBN 0-310-47030-7
1987 Kingdoms in Conflict[88]
(with Ellen Santilli Vaughn)
William Morrow & Co ISBN 0-688-07349-2
1989 Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages[89]
(with Ellen Santilli Vaughn)
Servant Publications ISBN 0-89283-309-2
1991 Why America Doesn't Work[90]
(with Jack Eckerd)
Word Publishing ISBN 0-8499-0873-6
1993 The Body: Being Light in Darkness[91]
(with Ellen Santilli Vaughn)
Word Books ISBN 0-85009-603-0
1993 A Dance with Deception: Revealing the truth behind the headlines[92] Word Publishing ISBN 0-8499-1057-9
1995 Evangelicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission
(co-edited with Richard John Neuhaus)
Thomas Nelson ISBN 0-8499-3860-0
1996 Being The Body[93]
(with Ellen Santilli Vaughn)
Thomas Nelson ISBN 0-8499-1752-2
1997 Loving God Zondervan ISBN 0-310-21914-0
1998 Burden of Truth: Defending the Truth in an Age of Unbelief Tyndale House ISBN 0-8423-3475-0
1999 How Now Shall We Live[94]
(with Nancy Pearcey and Harold Fickett)
Tyndale House ISBN 0-8423-1808-9
2001 Justice That Restores Tyndale House ISBN 0-8423-5245-7
2004 The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions
About Intelligent Design
(with William A. Dembski)
Inter Varsity Press ISBN 0-8308-2375-1
2005 The Good Life
(with Harold Fickett)
Tyndale House ISBN 0-8423-7749-2
2007 God and Government Zondervan ISBN 978-0-310-27764-4
2008 The Faith
(with Harold Fickett)
Zondervan ISBN 978-0-310-27603-6
2011 The Sky Is Not Falling: Living Fearlessly in These Turbulent Times[95] Worthy Publishing ISBN 978-1-936034-54-3

(Some of these ISBNs are for recent editions of the older books.)


(This is not a complete list.)

Year Title Publisher ISBN
2006 Wide Angle Purpose Driven Publishing ISBN 978-1-4228-0083-6
2011 Doing the Right Thing DVD Zondervan ISBN 978-0-310-42775-9
2011 Doing the Right Thing Participant's Guide Zondervan ISBN 978-0-310-42776-6


  1. ^ A Gallery of the Guilty. Time. January 13, 1975.
  2. ^ a b c "About Chuck Colson". Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  3. ^ "The Chuck Colson Center". Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Colson Center Fact Sheet". Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. 2010. p. 261.  
  6. ^ Aitken, Jonathan (2006). Charles Colson: A Life Redeemed. London: Continuum. p. 20.  
  7. ^ a b c d e Jonathan Aitken (2005). Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press. pp. 28–29. 
  8. ^ Colson, Charles W.; Harold Fickett (2005). The Good Life.  
  9. ^ a b c d e f Special Files: Charles W. Colson, United States National Archives and Records Administration
  10. ^ a b David Plotz (March 10, 2000). "Charles Colson – How a Watergate crook became America's greatest Christian conservative".  
  11. ^ a b c Colson, Charles W. (1975). Born Again. Chosen.   Chapter 5.
  12. ^ H. R. Haldeman. The Ends of Power, (Dell Publishing: New York), p. 5. ISBN 0440122392
  13. ^ Nagourney, Adam (December 10, 2010) "In Tapes, Nixon Rails About Jews and Blacks". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Kifner, "4 Kent State Students Killed by Troops," New York Times, May 5, 1970.
  15. ^ Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party. pp. 59–60. Max Blumenthal.
  16. ^ Foner, U.S. Labor and the Vietnam War, 1989.
  17. ^ Freeman, Joshua B. (1993). "Hardhats: Construction Workers, Manliness, and the 1970 Pro-War Demonstrations".  
  18. ^ Perlmutter (May 12, 1970). "Head of Building Trades Unions Here Says Response Favors Friday's Action".  
  19. ^ Bigart, "Huge City Hall Rally Backs Nixon's Indochina Policies," New York Times, May 21, 1970.
  20. ^ Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party. p. 60. Max Blumenthal.
  21. ^ Mehren, Elizabeth (February 18, 2003). "Insanity in Nixon's White House".   (Text available here.)
  22. ^ Dean, John (1976). Blind Ambition. pp. 35–39.  
  23. ^ Watergate, by Fred Emery, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1995, ISBN 0-684-81323-8, pp. 47–48. References Nixon's memoirs regarding firebombing.
  24. ^ a b With antiwar role, high visibility, Boston Globe, June 17, 2003
  25. ^ a b Nixon targeted Kerry for anti-war views, Brian Williams, NBC News, March 16, 2004
  26. ^ Aitken, 2005, p.166
  27. ^ Aitken, 2005, p.178
  28. ^ Aitken, 2005, p.155
  29. ^ Aitken, 2005, p.156
  30. ^ Colson, Charles W.; Harold Fickett (2005). The Good Life.  
  31. ^ TRANSCRIPT OF A MEETING BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND CHARLES COLSON" June 20, 1972 White House conversation of Richard Nixon and Charles Colson, p.15""" (PDF). Watergate Special Prosecution Force Transcripts. Retrieved 2015-08-13. 
  32. ^ Papers of Charles Wendell Colson – Collection 275, Archives, Billy Graham Center, December 8, 2004.
  33. ^ Watergate, by Fred Emery, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1995, ISBN 0-684-81323-8
  34. ^ William Buckley. "Colson Christianity skepticism unfounded," originally in Washington Star and reprinted in The Dallas Morning News, June 28, 1974, p. 21A.
  35. ^ "The Man Who Converted to Softball".  
  36. ^ Colson, Charles W. Born Again. Chosen Books, 1975
  37. ^ United Press International. "From Watergate to Inner Peace," The Dallas Morning News, December 20, 1973, p. 8A.
  38. ^ Maryln Schwartz. "Prayer for Colson," The Dallas Morning News, June 7, 1974, p. 8A.
  39. ^ Carl Rowan. "Colson could bring swift end to puzzle," The Dallas Morning News, June 10, 1974, p. 23A.
  40. ^ Clark Mollenhoff. "Colson could mean trouble," The Dallas Morning News, June 29, 1974, p. 19A.
  41. ^ Associated Press. "Colson ordered to serve 1 to 3 years in prison," The Dallas Morning News, June 22, 1974, p. 1A.
  42. ^ "Court Disbars Charles Colson," The Dallas Morning News, June 27, 1974, p. 12A.
  43. ^ a b About Chuck Colson at the Wayback Machine (archived September 28, 2007), BreakPoint website
  44. ^ Associated Press. "Committee hears Colson: testimony leaves panel members confused," The Dallas Morning News, July 16, 1974, p. 2AL "Colson was brought from his jail cell at Fort Holabird, Md., to testify on his inside knowledge of the plumbers, the Watergate break-in and coverup, and the ITT and milk matters."
  45. ^ a b c d "Charles Colson, Nixon counsel, ordered freed," The Dallas Morning News, February 1, 1975, p. 1A.
  46. ^ "Colson begins prison term with data offer," The Dallas Morning News, p. 2A.
  47. ^ Born Again, Chapter 27.
  48. ^ Colson, Charles W. (1976). Born Again. Chosen Books. p. 364.  
  49. ^ "Prison Fellowship: A Timeline". Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  50. ^ "Nation's Largest Prison Ministry Announces Appointment of New CEO". June 6, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  51. ^ Justice Fellowship website
  52. ^ CRRUCS Report 2003: InnerChange Freedom Initiative
  53. ^ Colson, Charles W.; Harold Fickett (2005). "Epilogue". The Good Life.  
  54. ^ Faith-Based Fudging
  55. ^ The InnerChange Freedom Initiative: A Preliminary Evaluation of a Faith-Based Prison Program, pg 5, Executive Summary, finding #4
  56. ^ "The coming persecution: how same-sex 'marriage' will harm Christians," Christian Post, July 2, 2008.
  57. ^ God Versus Darwin: What Darwinism Really Means, Breakpoint (a Prison Fellowship publication).
  58. ^ Chuck Colson's Ten Questions about Origins, Breakpoint
  59. ^ Deadly exports
  60. ^ Colson, Charles W.; Harold Fickett (2005). The Good Life.  
  61. ^ Sharlet, Jeff (2008).  
  62. ^ The Problem of Ethics, Charles W. Colson, April 4, 1991
  63. ^ Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered The Party. "Creating A Monster". pp.24-27, ISBN 978-1-56858-398-3
  64. ^ Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience
  65. ^ What Scholars and Leaders are Saying
  66. ^
  67. ^ Nixon aides say Felt is no hero. MSNBC. June 1, 2005.
  68. ^ Bradlee, Ben (June 2, 2005). "Transcript: Deep Throat Revealed". The Washington Post. 
  69. ^ Dinner to begin local Salvation Army campaign, The Bryan-College Station Eagle, September 26, 2004
  70. ^ Christian Book Expo. "2000 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  71. ^ Christian Book Expo. "1993 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. Retrieved April 23, 2012. 
  72. ^ Charles Colson receives prestigious leadership award, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, February 15, 2001
  73. ^ "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America: Charles Colson".  
  74. ^ Hybels, Bill (April 6, 2012). "Chuck Colson in Critical Condition after Surgery (Updated: Family is Gathered with Colson)". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  75. ^ "Chuck Colson in Grave Condition, Family Gathers Near – US – CBN News – Christian News 24-7". March 30, 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  76. ^!/prisonfellowshp/status/192840970881081344
  77. ^!/prisonfellowshp/status/192976372472348674
  78. ^ Tim Weiner (April 21, 2012). "Charles W. Colson, Watergate Felon Who Became Evangelical Leader, Dies at 80".  
  79. ^ Hagerty, Barbara Bradley (April 21, 2012). "Watergate Figure, Evangelist Chuck Colson Dies at 80".  
  80. ^ "Chuck Colson dies at age 80".  
  81. ^ Bailey, Sarah Pulliam (April 21, 2012). "Evangelical Leader Chuck Colson Dead at 80". Christianity Today. 
  82. ^ a b "Political figures react to Colson death". CNN. April 21, 2012. 
  83. ^
  84. ^
  85. ^
  86. ^ Born Again" Amazon Editorial Review""". Retrieved April 18, 2012. 
  87. ^ "1984 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  88. ^ "1988 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  89. ^ "1990 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  90. ^ "1992 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  91. ^ "1993 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  92. ^ "1994 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  93. ^ "2004 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  94. ^ "2000 Gold Medallion Book Awards Winners". Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  95. ^ "The Sky is Not Falling". 2011. Retrieved October 17, 2011. 

External links

  • BreakPoint Commentary
  • Columns in Christianity Today
  • Columns in The Christian Post
  • Colson Center for Christian Worldview
  • Chuck Colson's biography at Prison Fellowship Ministries
  • Watergate Key Players by the Washington Post
  • Nixon aides say Felt is no hero June 1, 2005.
  • (Source for Citizens Medal Presentation)
  • [2]
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
Colson was later a principal signer of the 1994

[62]. The speech was titled "The Problem of Ethics," where he argued that a society without a foundation of moral absolutes cannot long survive.Harvard Business School On April 4, 1991, Colson was invited to deliver a speech as part of the Distinguished Lecturer series at [61] Colson was a member of

Colson was an outspoken critic of postmodernism, believing that as a cultural worldview, it is incompatible with the Christian tradition. He debated prominent post-evangelicals, such as Brian McLaren, on the best response for the evangelical church in dealing with the postmodern cultural shift. Colson, however, came alongside the creation care movement when endorsing Christian environmentalist author Nancy Sleeth’s Go Green, Save Green: A Simple Guide to Saving Time, Money, and God's Green Earth. In the early 1980s, Colson was invited to New York by David Frost's variety program on NBC for an open debate with Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the atheist who in 1963, brought the court case (Murray v. Curlett) that eliminated official public school prayers.[60]

Colson maintained a variety of media channels which discuss contemporary issues from an evangelical Christian worldview. In his Christianity Today columns, for example, Colson opposed same-sex marriage,[56] and argued that Darwinism is used to attack Christianity.[57] He also argued against Darwinism and in favor of intelligent design,[58] saying Darwinism helped cause forced sterilizations by eugenicists.[59]

Christian advocacy

On June 18, 2003, Colson was invited by White House to present results of a scientific study on the faith-based initiative, InnerChange, at the Carol Vance Unit (originally named the Jester II Unit) prison facility of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Fort Bend County, Texas. Colson led a small group that includes Dr. Byron Johnson of the University of Pennsylvania, who was the principal researcher of the InnerChange study, a few staff members of Prison Fellowship and three InnerChange graduates to the meeting. In the presentation, Dr. Johnson explained that 171 participants in the InnerChange program were compared to a matched group of 1,754 inmates from the prison's general population. The study found that only 8 percent of InnerChange graduates, as opposed to 20.3 percent of inmates in the matched comparison group, became offenders again in a two-year period. In other words, the recidivism rate was cut by almost two-thirds for those who complete the faith-based program. Those who are dismissed for disciplinary reasons or who drop out voluntarily, or those who are paroled before completion, have a comparable rate of rearrest and incarceration.[52][53] The commonly-reported results from the study have been strongly criticized for selecting only participants who were unlikely to be rearrested (especially those who were successfully placed in post-prison jobs), and when considering all of the InnerChange study participants, their recidivism rate (24.3%) was worse than the control group (20.3%).[54][55]

In 1983, Colson founded Justice Fellowship, using his influence in conservative political circles to push for bipartisan, legislative reforms in the U.S. criminal justice system.[51]

After his release from prison, Colson founded Prison Fellowship in 1976, which today is "the nation's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families".[49][50] Colson worked to promote prisoner rehabilitation and reform of the prison system in the United States, citing his disdain for what he called the "lock 'em and leave 'em" warehousing approach to criminal justice. He helped to create prisons whose populations come from inmates who choose to participate in faith-based programs.

Prison ministry

Career after prison

During his time in prison, Colson had become increasingly aware of what he saw as injustices done to prisoners and incarcerates and shortcomings in their rehabilitation; he also had the opportunity, during a three-day furlough to attend his father's funeral, to pore over his father's papers and discover the two shared an interest in prison reform. He became convinced that he was being called by God to develop a ministry to prisoners with an emphasis in promoting changes in the justice system.

Born Again, Colson's personal memoir reflecting on his religious conversion and prison term, was made into a 1978 dramatic film starring Dean Jones as Colson, Anne Francis as his wife Patty, and Harold Hughes as himself. Actor Kevin Dunn would also portray Colson in the 1995 movie Nixon.

Interest in prison reform

Colson served seven months in Maxwell Correctional Facility in Alabama,[43]—with brief stints at a facility on the Fort Holabird grounds when needed as a trial witness—[44][45] entering prison on July 9, 1974,[46] and being released early, on January 31, 1975, by the sentencing judge because of family problems.[45][47] At the time that Gesell ordered his release, Colson was one of the last of the Watergate defendants still in jail: only Gordon Liddy was still incarcerated. Egil Krogh had served his sentence and been released before Colson entered jail, while John Dean, Jeb Magruder, and Herb Kalmbach had been released earlier in January 1975 by Judge John Sirica.[45] (Although Gesell declined to name the "family problems" prompting the release,[45] Colson wrote in his 1976 memoir that his son Chris, angry over his father's imprisonment and looking to replace his broken car, had bought $150 worth of marijuana in hopes of selling it at a profit, and had been arrested in South Carolina, where he was in college.[48] The state later dropped the charges.)

After days of negotiation with Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski and Watergate Trial Judge Gerhard Gesell, Colson pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice on the basis of having attempted to defame Ellsberg's character in the build-up to the trial in order to influence the jury against him. Journalist Carl Rowan commented in a column of June 10, 1974 that the guilty plea came "at a time when the judge was making noises about dismissing the charges against him", and speculated that Colson was preparing to reveal highly damaging information against Nixon,[39] an expectation shared by columnist Clark Mollenhoff; Mollenhoff even went so far as to suggest that for Colson not to become a "devastating witness" would cast doubt on the sincerity of his conversion.[40] On June 21, 1974, Colson was given a one-to- three-year sentence and fined $5,000.[9][41] He was subsequently disbarred in the District of Columbia, with the expectation of his also being prohibited from using his licenses from Virginia and Massachusetts.[42]

After taking the Fifth Amendment on the advice of his lawyers during early testimony, Colson found himself torn between his desire to be truthful and his desire to avoid conviction on charges of which he believed himself innocent. Following prayer and consultation with his fellowship group, Colson approached his lawyers and suggested a plea of guilty to a different criminal charge of which he did consider himself to be culpable.[38]

Pleads guilty, imprisoned

As Colson was facing arrest, his close friend, Raytheon Company chairman of the board Thomas L. Phillips, gave Colson a copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis, which, after reading it, led Colson to become an evangelical Christian. Colson then joined a prayer group led by Douglas Coe and including Democratic Senator Harold Hughes, Republican congressman Al Quie and Democratic congressman Graham B. Purcell, Jr.. When news of the conversion emerged much later, several U.S. newspapers, as well as Newsweek, The Village Voice,[34] and Time, ridiculed the conversion, claiming that it was a ploy to reduce his sentence.[35] In his 1975 memoir Born Again.[36] Colson noted that a few writers published sympathetic stories, as in the case of a widely reprinted UPI article, "From Watergate to Inner Peace."[37]

Introduced to Christianity

On March 1, 1974, Colson was indicted for conspiring to cover up the Watergate burglaries.[9]


On March 10, 1973, seventeen months before Nixon's resignation, Colson resigned from the White House to return to the private practice of law, as Senior Partner at the law firm of Colson and Shapiro, Washington, D.C.[32] However, Colson was retained as a special consultant by Nixon for several more months.[33]

Although not discovered until several years after Nixon had resigned and Colson had finished serving his prison term, transcripts of a tape-recorded June 20, 1972 White House conversation between Nixon and Colson has denials from both men of the White House's involvement in the break-in; Hunt had been off the payroll for 3 months, Colson asks "Do they think I'm that dumb?". Nixon does comment that "we have got to have lawyers smart enough to have our people de-, delay (unintelligible) avoiding--depositions, of course, uh, are one possibility. We've got--I think it would be a quite the thing for the judge to call in Mitchell and have a deposition in the middle of the campaign, don't you?" to which Colson responds that he would welcome a deposition because "I'm not--, because nobody, everybody's completely out of it."[31]

[30].The Good Life He expressed regret for attempting to cover up this incident in his 2005 book, [11] At a CREEP meeting on March 21, 1971, it was agreed to spend US$250,000 on "intelligence gathering" on the Democratic Party. Colson and

Colson attended some meetings of [26] When Colson had taken charge of the Office of Communications, he was offered but rejected Jeb Magruder as a senior staffer, and Magruder was instead sent over to CREEP as "'At least he can't do any harm there' replied Colson. It was one of his less prescient judgements. Unknown to Colson and most other White House personnel, Magruder had been doing enormous harm by authorizing a series of James Bond-style clandestine operations against the Democrats".[27]

Watergate and Ellsberg scandals

Colson's voice, from archives from April 1969, is heard in the 2004 movie Going Upriver deprecating the anti-war efforts of John Kerry. Colson's orders were to "destroy the young demagogue before he becomes another Ralph Nader."[24][25] In a phone conversation with Nixon on April 28, 1971, Colson said, "This fellow Kerry that they had on last week...He turns out to be really quite a phony."[24][25]

Attacking the young Vietnam veteran John Kerry

Colson also proposed firebombing the Brookings Institution and stealing politically damaging documents while firefighters put the fire out.[21][22][23]

Firebombing the Brookings Institution

Two weeks after the Nixon White House had organized the Hard Hat Riot, "...Colson had arranged a ceremony at the White House to honor its field general, Peter Brennan, president of the Building and Construction Trades" union local in New York City. Brennan was later appointed as U.S. Secretary of Labor and served under Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford.[20]

At least one eyewitness to the Hard Hat Riot described two men in grey suits using walkie-talkies and hand signals to direct the construction workers during the riot. See Bigart, "War Foes Here Attacked By Construction Workers," New York Times, May 9, 1970. Brennan led a second rally on May 20, 1970 in which more than 20,000 construction workers announced their support for Nixon's Southeast Asia policies.[19]

More than 70 people were injured during the Hard Hat Riot, including four policemen. Six people were arrested. President Nixon held an emergency press conference to defuse the situation before tens of thousands of students arrived in Washington, D.C., for a protest rally on May 9.[16][17][18]

Attorneys, bankers and investment analysts from nearby Wall Street investment firms tried to protect many of the students but were themselves attacked. Onlookers reported that the police stood by and did nothing. A postal worker rushed onto the roof of City Hall and raised the American flag to full mast. When city workers lowered the flag to half-mast, the construction workers stormed City Hall, overwhelming the police. Deputy Mayor Richard Aurelio, fearing the building would be overrun by the mob, ordered city workers to raise the flag back to full mast. The construction workers then ripped the Red Cross and Episcopal Church flags down from a flag pole at Trinity Church. They then stormed two buildings at nearby Pace University, breaking windows with clubs and crowbars and beating students.

The protesters had begun assembling at the location at approximately 7:30 a.m. EST and by 11:55 a.m. EST, about 200 hard hat construction workers then converged on the largely student rally at Federal Hall from four directions. At first, the construction workers only pushed but did not break the thin line of police. Just before noon, however, the construction workers broke through the police lines and began chasing down students in the streets. The workers targeted those with the longest hair and then attacked them with hard hats and sections of steel reinforcement bars.

A White House tape transcription dated May 5, 1971 documented the initial Oval Office planning phase of the Hard Hat Riot, wherein Colson instigated New York State AFL-CIO union leaders who armed 200 construction trade workers in Lower Manhattan with segments of steel reinforcement bars and hard hats that they used to attack 1,000 high school students, college students, and other anti-war demonstrators protesting the recent Kent State shootings, the American invasion of Cambodia and the Vietnam War near the intersection of Wall Street and Broad Street. The riot, which spread to New York City Hall, lasted little more than two hours. More than 70 people were injured, including four policemen. Six people were arrested.[10][15]

On May 4, 1970, four students were shot dead at Kent State University in Ohio while protesting the Vietnam War and the incursion into Cambodia.[14] As a show of sympathy for the dead students, Mayor Lindsay ordered all flags at New York City Hall to be flown at half mast the same day.

New York City Hard Hat Riot

Colson authored the 1971 memo listing Nixon's major political opponents, later known as Nixon's Enemies List. A quip that "Colson would walk over his own grandmother if necessary" mutated into claims in news stories that Colson had boasted that he would run over his own grandmother to re-elect Nixon.[11] In a February 13, 1973, conversation, Colson told Nixon that he had always had "a little prejudice."[13]

Slate magazine writer David Plotz described Colson as "Richard Nixon's hard man, the 'evil genius' of an evil administration."[10] Colson has written that he was "valuable to the President ... because I was willing ... to be ruthless in getting things done".[11] Richard Nixon's White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman described Colson as the president's "hit man."[12] This is perhaps complimentary when read in comparison to the descriptions of Colson which pepper the work of Rolling Stone National Affairs' Political Correspondent, Hunter S. Thompson during the period.

"The 'Evil Genius' of an Evil Administration"

In addition to his liaison and political duties, Colson's responsibilities included: performing special assignments for the president, such as drafting legal briefs on particular issues, reviewing presidential appointments, and suggesting names for White House guest lists. His work also included major lobbying efforts on such issues as construction of an Antiballistic missile system, the president's Vietnamization program, and the administration's revenue-sharing proposal.[9]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.