Watergate figure Chuck Colson reportedly near death
Chuck Colson, 80, underwent surgery this month to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain.
April 18th, 2012
12:25 PM ET

Watergate figure Chuck Colson reportedly near death

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) - Chuck Colson, the convicted Watergate figure turned evangelist, is near death after suffering a brain hemorrhage earlier this month, his media representatives said Wednesday.

“It is with a heavy, but hopeful heart that I share with you that it appears our friend, brother and founder will soon be home with the Lord,” Jim Liske, CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, which Colson founded, said in a statement.

“Chuck's condition took a decided turn yesterday, and the doctors advised Patty and the family to gather by his bedside,” Liske said, referring to Colson’s wife.

Colson, 80, underwent surgery this month to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain.

Colson was special counsel to President Richard Nixon and the first member of the Nixon administration to serve prison time for charges stemming from the 1972 Watergate scandal.

“He admits he was guilty of political ‘dirty tricks’’ and willing to do almost anything for the cause of his president and his party,” according to Colson’s official biography.

In 1974, Colson served seven months of a one- to three-year sentence. Not long after his release, he founded Prison Fellowship, which calls itself “the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families,” with a presence in 113 countries.

Colson also hosts a daily radio commentary called BreakPoint that airs on stations nationwide.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Leaders

soundoff (369 Responses)
  1. SnapinTurtle

    I didn’t care for him and like anyone who makes a lucrative trade out of Christianity, I am wary, but God makes that judgment call, not me. None of us know what is in another person’s head and heart.

    I do respect the fact that he took full ownership of his actions, and I think he paid his debt and some others’ too.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Paul

      I concur with snapinturtle. I hope for anyone, suffering isn't too great. I think he knew how wrong everything was, but spot on about everything you have said. I remember it all so well, I remember my father calling me and he was just minutes from the White House and said,"I think Nixon is going to resign" and sure enough he did. all the best to the family.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • purelittleking

      Almost all of the money that Chuck made went straight back into the ministry of Prison Fellowship. He is one of the most generous human beings that has ever walked this earth - but far too humble to broadcast it. This is not speculation or hearsay. This is a verifiable fact. We should all be as generous.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • purelittleking

      Any money that Chuck made in his "lucrative trade" went straight back to the ministry of Prison Fellowship. This is a verifiable fact of which I have firsthand knowledge. We should all be so generous - and live life with such compassion for the poor and outcast in our society.

      April 19, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Ian M. Butler

      Snapin Turtle doesn't have the facts. I can't stand blog posts from people who spew nonsense and have a complete lack of knowledge on history or the truth of the matter being discussed. Chuck Colson made huge mistakes in his life, like all of us do, but he didn't just quit at the lowest point of his life. By God's grace and power, he became a changed man by the power of the Gospel and he spent the rest of his life giving it away to meaningful pursuits that have benefitted thousands and influenced the world for good in countless ways. He didn't make a "lucrative trade" of Christianity...that is a baseless lie and a false accusation! I know a guy who audited Prison Fellowship for years and they are a stand up non-profit organization. Chuck did not live a lavish lifestyle by any stretch. He was a good steward of the resources, time, and talents that the Lord blessed him with and I am thankful for his legacy and impact in this dark and dying world. If we all could live a faithful and faith filled life like the one that Chuck lived, then the world would be a radically different place. We are all in need of forgiveness and salvation, and God is willing that none should perish, but in order to receive that free gift, we have to die a death to ourselves and be willing to repent, to change our perspective, and live our life in the flesh by faith in the Son of God, by God's grace and power. Christianity is not some legalistic set of rules and regulations. Lived authentically and biblically, it is the life of a transformed, humble believer who is willing to change masters, from being a slave to sin and this dead and dying world, to being a slave to Christ and to righteousness, lived albeit imperfectly, but with a general trajectory towards the pursuite of godliness and holiness, not for personal popularity or prestige, but for God's popularity and prestige, for God's Glory and by God's power! That is the example that a man like Chuck Colson leaves us with the legacy that he has lived by over the past 38 years. Get your facts straight Turtle!

      April 19, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Calvin

      I have worked with Chuck on a couple of occasions. I haven ever worked with such a humble yet strong man of God before or since. And his generosity is amazing.

      April 19, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Ian M. Butler

      Hey Snapin Turtle....read this and weep buddy. taken from Mr. Colson's Wiki page. I told you that he didn't make any kind of "lucrative trade" from his faith. What say you now!?!

      ..."Once known as President Nixon's "hatchet man," Colson's mid-life conversion to Christianity sparked a radical life change that lasted the remainder of his life. He began anew with a dual focus on both the non-profit ministry he founded after his time behind bars — Prison Fellowship — and to Christian worldview teaching and training. Colson is also a public speaker and the author of more than 30 books.[2]. He is 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 includes Colson's daily radio commentary, BreakPoint, heard on more than 1,400 outlets across the United States.[3][4]

      Colson has received 15 honorary doctorates and in 1993 was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, the world's largest annual award (over $1 million) in the field of religion, given to a person who "has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension". He donated this prize to further the work of Prison Fellowship, as he does all his speaking fees and royalties."

      April 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  2. Bud

    I met Chuck at Evangelistic Temple in Houston at the end of the seventies. Yes, he was the real thing. There was no doubt about his conversion. I hope his wife reads this and tells him we all love him and will be together again, soon. If anyone taught me forgiveness, it was Charles Colson!

    April 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  3. Keith

    If Colson is a saved individual, then he will inherit eternal life. If he isn't, he'll end up in the lake of fire with Hichens and co.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • BerzerkOtto

      Or.... He'll just be dead, like everything else that dies.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Keith

      Hichens=Hitchens, whatever. The guy is worm food for eternity. Yuck.
      Isa 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
      Colson, and every other undeserving person who repents and turns to Jesus Christ as savior, will have a far better future.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  4. Ricardo lopez jr.

    To my Brother in Christ:

    I'm praying for you and your family!!! May thee Lord send his peace to your hart!

    April 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  5. ART

    Gee a conservitive whos a christian who was underhanded and dishonest who would of thought.

    April 18, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • pbradbury

      Art, I am not sure if you know the whole story. He was not a Christian when the crime took place. He became a Christian afterwards and took responsibility for his actions.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Thomas

      It doesn't matter. It's the beauty of their ethos; doesn't matter what you do, just pray to God afterwards and then inform the world that God has forgiven you. Then you are scot free. Look at Gingrich, rehabilitated after he got his self-given forgiveness free pass.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • pbradbury

      Thomas, what do you mean by "scot free"? He went to jail. He admitted he was wrong. He didn't say that what he did was okay because he became a follower of Christ. It appears there is nothing a person like Colson could do to amend for what he did. Or perhaps the attack on him is really an attack on those who are followers of Christ? Sigh... such petty, hypocritical bigotry portraying itself as the enlightened and open-minded.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • graceandpeas

      Thanks, Pbradbury, for informing this poster about the facts. If you're gonna dog on someone, at least get the story straight.

      April 18, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • Ian M. Butler

      Art, you just don't get it. Chuck Colson was the real deal. He was a sinner like all the rest of us, but you can't ignore the transforming power of the Gospel on that man's life when He repented and came to faith in Jesus Christ at the lowest point of his life in a prison cell after such a serious fall from grace and success as the world would define it, having been White House consel to the most powerful man in the world. What Chuck did with the every day of the rest of his life after repenting and coming to faith Christ shows the impact that a life can have when it is truly and radically changed by God for God's glory and man's good. Chuck realized that what counted in life is what transcends life, and he loved and cared for and was an advocate for prisoners, both in the U.S., and all around the world, those that are forgotten and outcasts from society. And he was a giant Christian stateseman who fought for and defended the veracity of the Christian worldview and the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ at a time in our nation's history when that message continues to be less and less popular or well received. Don't make assertions or claims that have no semblence in truth just to spew nonsense. Look at the facts, and you'll realize that Charles Colson was a changed man and an authentic believer because of the transaction that had taken place in his heart because of God's mercy and grace, which is something that you and I and every other human being on the face of this earth needs if we have any chance of being reconciled as sinners to a holy and righteous God.

      April 19, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  6. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    colson is a sad chapter in human and american history. in his defense is his total repentence and his good work in and after prison.
    some of his partners in crime like human cesspool ollie north should be in prison still

    April 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Ron

      Different president – Colson was under Nixon, North was under Reagan.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  7. Ryan

    This is a man who turned his life around to become a true hero to men and women incarcerated - may God bless him and comfort his family during the days ahead.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  8. palintwit

    Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. But in order to do so, she must get back in her bus and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, speaking only to "real Americans", dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation again but we must follow the "Palin Path".

    April 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • witty

      In your dreams. She is responsible for O being in office. Besides that her voice is like long fingernails on a blackboard.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Copper's Donut Shoppe

      very funny sh!t
      you a pro stand-up?

      April 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      witty: apparently, you don't recognize sarcasm

      April 18, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Bary

      The only way she could help would take the bus ride across the Bering Sea to her "neighbors"

      April 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Jerrold

      Better stop drinking the cool-aid!

      April 18, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • communicator1453

      I loved the part about "speaking only to 'real Americans.'" I'm not laughing audibly, but I'm roaring with laughter in my mind. Real Americans. Would that be North Americans, Central Americans or South Americans? Better yet, would that be Native Americans? In fact, Native Americans are the only real Americans, and we have it on good authority that they came across the Bering Sea from Asia into the Americas. The rest of us are of European and African descent. So let me ask another question. Do you mean Asian immigrants during the last ice age when you refer to real Americans? I'm just curious, because many people groups claim to be real Americans, and you painted with quite a broad stroke. I just happen to be a democrat who voted for Barack Obama during the last election. On the other hand, I served the United States overseas while I was on the military. For that reason, I don't think anyone has anything on me in terms of patriotism, especially not Sarah Palin.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  9. draboar

    I hope the verry best for him and his.
    Ive heard good things about him when he found his way.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  10. PumpNDump

    Bush/Cheney are worse than Nixon ever was.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • nonconformist

      While I'm not a fan of Bush, I would never characterize him as worse than Nixon. Bush was merely incompetent, Nixon was a seriously paranoid person. I can't believe I'm actually saying this but Bush is a decent person, Nixon was not.

      On the other hand, Cheney ranks right up there with Nixon but may actually be more evil so I would definitely agree on that point.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Tom

      Cheney and is partners made a lot of money off the wars that Obama did NOT start.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • noclist

      Nixon was probably the most influential foreign policy presidents in the 20th century. He and Kissinger formulated triangular diplomacy which eventually brought down the Soviet Union, as he opened up trade with China. No small accomplishment considering all the time and effort spent on the cold war. He was however, a megalomaniac, which eventually brought him down.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  11. The Obama Christian Church Worldwide Campaign

    This is the reason why we worship and praise our good christian president Obama and that Obama will be Lord of the world on October 21st of this year. We need to use Obama to restore the traditional dictates of our good Word Of God or the Bible. The Obama Administration will help us christians restore the good morals of christianity which is good. We need to learn the gospels of Obama and Christ to restore the good morals of the world.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Rhope


      April 18, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  12. dave

    its too bad he pushed for catholics and christians together. the bible commands us not to pray to any statue , also the Jesus commanded us not to call any person "Father" also and most importantly Jesus said in JOhn 14:6 " I am the Way , the Truth, the Life, no man cometh unto the Father except through Me" Jesus taught that He is the only way but Catholics teach Mary can save you. Christians teach that we are saved by God's grace, yet catholic doctrine teaches it is a curse to say you are saved through grace.

    during the reformation the catholic church killed thousands of christians who left the Roman system. the root and history of the catholic church started with Babylon. yes, it is babylon reloaded google "catholic babylon" for the history on it

    April 18, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Your Catholic Friend

      "There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing." – Fulton Sheen

      If what you described was an accurate statement of Catholic belief and practice, I'd be against the Catholic Church too.

      I for one am grateful for the work of Chuck Colson and many others to help heal the wounds within the Christian community. I don't agree with him on all matters of doctrine. I am proud to stand with him and with all (true) Christians who seek to find unity in our commitment Christ.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Tom

      Faith in God is what is important. Putting faith in a church or a religion is going against the teachings of Jesus. One can not even take the bible in a word-by-word reading since it was man who put it in print.
      Religions sway with the wind while God is rock-solid

      Who decided what gospels were OK to put in the Bible and which were OK to leave out? Man did.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  13. Chuck Colson

    I made a lot of money from Christianity after I destroyed my earlier political career. The only way back after being caught as a major player in the worst political scandal in American history was the time-tested "Find Jesus" shtick.

    Christians just love the ole repentant sinner act. They love it so much that they will not only ignore your continued bad behavior; they will aggressively defend it and give you even more money.

    Christians have always been easy marks for con men, door-to-door bible hucksters, and any other scammer who says "praise Jesus."

    Christianity was the most lucrative political comeback I could ever have wished for.

    Thank you Christians for accepting a questionable guy like me unquestioningly, and for giving me the opportunity to make so much money.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Ryan

      Mr. Colson has be a great example to men and women who've found themselves caught up in crime - we should thank God for true heros like this - he turned his life around and became a contributer to society. God bless him and his family.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Chuck Colson

      I am very grateful that the world has many people like you in it, Ryan. Normal thinking people would not let a guy like me anywhere near the halls of power after I screwed the country on the Watergate thing, but ah, the Christians! Money, power, and an army of suckers who aggressively defend the man with his hand in their pockets.

      It's everything a grifter like me could ever want! Thank you Ryan!

      April 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Pete Davenport

      You are right-on point there, chuckie

      April 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Ian M. Butler

      Whoever posted this little ditty using the name "Chuck Colson" should be ashamed of themselves. None of what was said has any basis in fact or truth. I'm praying the the Lord will show Himself to you and that your cynical, hate filled commentary, while totally untrue, is not masking some really deep wounds and hurts that have had a detrimental effect on your ability to see and respond appropriately to the truth of the Gospel. I don't know who you are or what your struggles are but I'm praying that God will get a hold of you and bring you to a right understanding of who He is, what He has said in his Word (the Bible), and how one goes about being reconciled as a sinner to a Holy, righteous God.

      April 19, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • John

      If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

      April 21, 2012 at 1:36 am |
  14. The Shrink

    Those who wish to comment should at least do some research before talking about a subject. Prison Fellwoship is avaiable for prisoners, but no one is required to participate. It is hard to argue with their success rate compared to non Christian programs. And preachers do not convert anyone. Conversion is the work of God. We as Christians just get to watch Him do it. And God does not force anyone to believe Him or follow Him. Everyone has that choice.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Ryan

      The only commitment required to participate is crime...thank God for Chuck Colson, he's a true American hero.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Jon H

      "Prison Fellwoship is avaiable for prisoners, but no one is required to participate."

      That's still a problem if there are prison-oriented benefits that are only available if you participate in Prison Fellowship. For example, if prisoners can get additional privileges by taking part in Prison Fellowship, but those privileges aren't available to Buddhist prisoners or Jewish prisoners or atheist prisoners who don't care to take part.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  15. KarmasInevitable

    Whether you like it or not – Karm's inevitable. Today... it's Colson's turn.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  16. Reilleyfam

    A bad man who should never have been released from prison.

    A fake Christian.

    No forgiveness, Good riddance and long overdue = burn in hell.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Cobra

      How generous of you.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Pastor Randy

      Thankful you are not the Ultimate Judge. How is it that you know the heart of this man?

      April 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Christian

      He will be in Heaven.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • just sayin


      He will be in Heaven.
      PROVE IT

      April 18, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Ryan

      No one should burn in hell, not even you Reilleyfam, God is forgiving to those who seek forgiveness. As for Chuck Colson, he's been an honest contributor to society - God bless him and his family.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      "How is it that you know the heart of this man?"

      How is it that you purport to know what god likes or dislikes?

      April 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  17. open400

    A person surrended with money,women,alcohol, drugs and power can get lost in Washington very easily. A person gets lost then they get found in Christ. The "ordinary person" can judge these people negatively, but how many of us would sin given the same temptations? If you read the biographies of famous peope, many start out as "ordinary" people, then they system itself corrupts them.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  18. Luke Brown

    Thanks, Chaplain.

    Jesus called on his followers to serve people in need. It's shameful Christians use hunger, poverty, disease, and incarceration as means to convert people to their own personal brand of Christianity. If you want to serve hungry people, then feed them. If you want to help those who are poor, help them find a way to survive. However, if your "help" is nothing but a clever way of winning converts for your God ... then for God's sake, leave these people alone.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Ryan

      LOL - Luke, you kinda got lost in your words as you tried to point out how Christians should be helping the hungry, poor and imprisoned - thank God for Christians and non-christians who help society.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  19. James Kimble

    There really isn't a "brand" of Christianity. These men spend hours encouraging those without hope to have hope, that there is a God who loves them, and that He loves them enough to send His Son to die for them. They also help the families of prisoners with transportation assistance and other ways to diminish their suffering during the absence of their loved ones.
    It isn't disrespectful or abusive. Most of these men and women face disrespect and abuse daily at the hands of fellow prisoners, or worse yet, at the hands of their "keepers".

    April 18, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  20. Chaplain

    I don't wish ill on anyone and hope his death is peaceful. All I would say about Prison Fellowship is that this organization's intent to "reach prisoners" simply turns (public) prisons into "mission fields" where preachers try to convert everyone to their own brand of Christianity. It's sad, but frankly, it's also disrespectful and quite abusive. Our prison system loves to pacify the masses, and Colson's legacy continues to self-righteously play along. I see that as an obstacle to true compassion and true justice. I don't see how someone could be proud of that.

    April 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Cool post, Chaplain!

      April 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Sagebrush Shorty

      Kind of like the Muslims?

      April 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • William Bloomquist

      I have worked on one of the prison ministries originated by Mr. Colson at the Chino Women's prison in California. My company provided all the audio equipment at no charge. Having heard his presentation and discussions IN PERSON and listening to the women responding and sharing what got them started in some cases on a criminal life and others on how they were dragged into bad situations., I can tell you from first hand experience that this ministry DOES have a positive purpose and influence.
      It would be a better thing for you to experience these PERSONALLY rather than judge what the man and the group do without ANY personal knowledge. Making a judgement about his "brand or religion" simply demonstrates YOUR complete lack of understanding of how faith works.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • MoreOrLess

      So what do you propose, more of the government brand of rehabilitation?

      April 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Ryan

      Chaplain - one important point you left out of your message, Christianity is an individuals choice (unless Gov't outlaws it) - nobody makes a criminal commit a crime and nobody can make a criminal accept Christ, it's all about choice.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.