Charles Colson offers an olive branch to journalists at the National Press Club.
After the announcement that Prison Fellowship chairman Charles Colson had won the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion (see CT News, March 8, 1993, p. 57), he was invited by the National Press Club to address their members at their Washington, D.C., headquarters. The March 11 talk addressed journalists; but because it has consequences for religious leaders, readers of CHRISTIANITY TODAY may like to listen in. A condensed version of the talk follows:
The irony of this occasion is not lost on me and possibly not on you. It was 20 years ago in this place that I appeared to defend Richard Nixon. Many journalists who covered Watergate ended up winning Pulitzer prizes or lucrative book contracts. I ended up in prison.
Today I come, not with a hatchet, as I did 20 years ago, but with an olive branch. I hope to persuade you that the two camps which you and I represent should make peace.
My side is often stereotyped as the Religious Right—those folks described by the Washington Post as “largely uneducated, poor and easy to command.” There is considerable diversity in that group, including some who show more zeal than thought. But generally our side agrees on one thing: We harbor a fear and loathing of the media elite. That phrase—even if you don’t feel very elite—means all of you here today.
My proposition is simple: that both sides need each other for the greater good of our society.
Let me approach my thesis beginning with the subject I know best: criminal justice. Over the past 17 years, I have been in well over 600 prisons in nearly 30 countries. What I have experienced can be summed up tersely: The American criminal justice system is terminally ...1
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