Bio: Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship
Founder, Prison Fellowship, Justice Fellowship and Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Former Aide to President Nixon
Forty years ago, Charles W. "Chuck" Colson was not thinking about reaching out to prison inmates or reforming the U.S. penal system. In fact, this aide to President Richard Nixon was "incapable of humanitarian thought," according to the media of the mid-1970s. Colson was known as the White House "hatchet man," a man feared by even the most powerful politicos during his four years of service to President Nixon.
When news of Colson's conversion to Christianity leaked to the press in 1973, the Boston Globe reported, "If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everybody." Colson would agree.
In 1974 Colson entered a plea of guilty to Watergate-related charges; although not implicated in the Watergate burglary, he voluntarily pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the Daniel Ellsberg Case. He entered Maxwell Federal Prison Camp in Alabama in 1974 as a new Christian and as the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges. He served seven months of a one- to three-year sentence.
After leaving prison, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries in 1976, which has since become the nation's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. Colson remained a member of the board of Prison Fellowship Ministries until his death.
A sought-after speaker, Colson wrote more than 30 books, which collectively have sold more than 5 million copies. His autobiographical book, Born Again, was one of the nation's best-selling books of all genres in 1976. Another bestseller, co-authored by Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live, is considered one of the most important books written on the subject of Christian worldview. His last book, The Faith, is a powerful appeal to the Church to re-embrace the foundational truths of Christianity.
In 1991 Colson launched BreakPoint, a unique radio commentary that provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. BreakPoint is currently aired weekdays on some 1,400 outlets nationwide with an audience of 8 million listeners.
In his later years, Colson focused full-time on developing other Christian leaders who can influence the culture and their communities through their faith. The capstone of this effort is the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, a research and training center launched in 2009 for the promotion of Christian worldview teaching. In addition to a vast library of worldview materials, the Colson Center provides online courses and serves as a catalyst for a growing movement of Christian organizations dedicated to impacting the culture. The Colson Center website also hosts Colson's popular weekly "Two-Minute Warning" video commentary.
In 2009, Colson was a principal writer of the Manhattan Declaration, which calls on Christians to defend the sanctity of human life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom. More than half a million people have signed the Manhattan Declaration. Collaborating with other Christian leaders, Colson aimed to launch other ecumenical grassroots movements around moral and ethical issues of great concern.
In recognition of his work among prisoners, Colson received the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1993, donating the $1 million prize to Prison Fellowship. Colson's other awards have included the Presidential Citizens Medal (2008), the nation's second-highest civilian honor; the Humanitarian Award from Dominos Pizza Corporation (1991); The Others Award from The Salvation Army (1990); the Outstanding Young Man of Boston from the Boston Chamber of Commerce (1960); and several honorary doctorates from various colleges and universities (1982-2000).