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Chuck Colson and the Conscience of a Hatchet-Man
Courtesy of Prison Fellowship
Chuck Colson and the Conscience of a Hatchet-Man

I suppose I should see some irony in some of the more vindictive journalistic pieces slinking out since the death of Prison Fellowship founder Chuck Colson. It's not that I mind these articles focusing on Colson's Watergate crimes and his rather nasty political persona prior to conversion; Colson emphasized that too. More problematic is the smug undercurrent that somehow Colson's life in ministry to criminals was somehow just some sort of "cover-up" for who he "really" was: a dirty trickster for whom everything was politics. Even as they bury the hatchet-man, some journalists just can't bury the hatchet. And, as they center everything on Watergate, they demonstrate that Nixon wasn't the only one with an Enemies List.

I found myself reflecting this morning on my own hypocrisy in my irritation with these cynical secular editorials and news pieces. After all, I'm the one who rolls my eyes at an evangelical victim mentality that cries "media bias" whenever we aren't represented fairly. In my anger at these writings, I evidenced a spirit closer to Watergate-era Richard Nixon than to the post-Watergate Chuck Colson. Nixon's downfall, after all, was at least partly due to his consuming desire to be accepted by the media and culture mavens of American society. President Nixon's rage was because he really cared what the New York Times and the Washington Post wrote about him.

It's just bad journalism to portray Chuck Colson as some sort of born-again Machiavelli of the Religious Right. After his conversion, Colson was discipled in the Christian faith by a progressive Republican (Sen. Mark Hatfield of Oregon) and a liberal Democrat (Sen. Harold Hughes of Iowa). Colson did engage political issues, but he consistently warned against the ...

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Chuck Colson and the Conscience of a Hatchet-Man
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April 2012

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