Chuck Colson, the virulently anti-gay theocrat, Evangelical Christian Prison Fellowship founder, Watergate felon, and Manhattan Declaration co-author, died today at the age of 80, after a brain hemorrhage earlier this month. President Richard M. Nixon’s self-described “hatchet man,” Colson — who turned to religion just before he began serving a prison sentence as one of the Watergate Seven — had the reputation of a “dirty tricks” man, but later became highly-regarded within the ranks of the radical religious right. Colson in recent years was a chief religious flag waver falsely claiming the rights of Christians are being compromised.
Charles Wendell “Chuck” Colson, born October 16, 1931, who wrote dozens of books, was also a co-author of the 2009 “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience,” an anarchistic manifesto demanding signatories — more than 525,000 to date — break the law should they perceive the law not squaring with the Bible. The Declaration attacks same-sex marriage, abortion, laments both society’s decoupling of marriage from childbearing and its growing acceptance of infidelity.
Colson co-authored the Manhattan Declaration with National Organization For Marriage (NOM) founder Robert P. George, whom Colson routinely praised.
The Los Angeles Times described Colson’s Manhattan Declaration as incautious, “apocalyptic,” “disingenuous,” “irresponsible and dangerous,” and chastised its “Christian religious leaders who, even as they insist on their right to shape the nation’s laws, are reserving the right to violate them.” The Times also labeled the Declaration’s attack on same-sex marriage as a “canard,” “as is the declaration’s complaint that Christian leaders are being prevented from expressing their ‘religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife’.”
Colson repeatedly attacked same-sex marriage and homosexuality. He wrongly stated “homosexual behavior” is more “dangerous than smoking, it lowers the life expectancy dramatically.” Colson also falsely stated that legalizing same-sex marriage was “sanctioning behavior known to be dangerous.” And, again falsely, stated that gays and lesbians “don’t want marriage; they want their sexual choices affirmed as normal and moral.”
And as late as last year, despite years of research to the contrary, Colson was publicly advocating that homosexuality was both a choice and avoidable if parents “properly” raised their children. Colson pointed to the book “A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality,” as the way to “learn more about what parents can do to lessen the chances their children will grow up homosexual.”
GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation included Colson in its recent premiere launch of the GLAAD Commentator Accountability Project (CAP), which tracks the statements of several dozen anti-gay pundits. The GLAAD CAP notes:
When the APA passed a resolution declaring so-called “ex-gay” treatment unethical, [Colson] said: “If any of this reminds you of the tactics of Nazi Germany, it ought to. In Hitler’s Germany the term for what the [American Psychological Association] is doing was Gleichgeschaltung, which means ‘forced conformity.’ If you didn’t conform to the government’s point of view, you risked losing your job. That is what’s happening in the world of psychology today.”
Lamenting his inclusion in GLAAD’s CAP, Colson himself ludicrously wrote, “Over the years I have been very careful not to engage in gay-bashing. I can’t think of a single time I have.”
In “Chuck Colson, Watergate scandal figure, dies at 80,” The Washington Post’s first sentence reads:
Charles W. Colson, the Republican political operative who boasted he would “walk over my own grandmother” to ensure the reelection of President Richard M. Nixon and went on to found a worldwide prison fellowship ministry after his conversion to evangelical Christianity, died April 21 Inova Fairfax Hospital.
Mr. Colson’s reputation as a “dirty tricks artist” overshadowed his achievements as a darkly brilliant political strategist. He had helped lay the groundwork for the Nixon landslide of November 1972 by appealing to disgruntled Democrats and blue-collar minority voters.
Focus On The Family head Jim Daly lamented Colson’s passing today:
America has lost a gentleman and statesman of the highest integrity and character. I’ve lost a dear friend and mentor who, most importantly, modeled for me how to stand for God’s Truth with Christ’s heart. Chuck was an endlessly selfless man, whose love for and ministry to those in prison made him one of the great modern-day lions of the faith.
Author Jeff Sharlet, who has researched and written extensively on the radical religious right, upon learning of Colson’s passing, today wrote via Twitter:
Chuck Colson was a cruel, vain, and arrogant man in all phases of his life, a dissembler & a hater to the end. RIP.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.