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Chuck Colson in critical condition after brain surgery
Watergate figure Chuck Colson is showing "some early signs of potential for recovery," according to his publicist.
April 4th, 2012
10:15 AM ET

Chuck Colson in critical condition after brain surgery

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) - Chuck Colson, the convicted Watergate figure turned evangelist, is in critical condition after undergoing surgery over the weekend following a brain hemorrhage, according to his publicist.

“Colson is listed in critical condition at this point but has shown some early signs of potential for recovery,” said a statement Tuesday from the DeMoss Group. A spokeswoman for the PR firm said Wednesday morning that she had no update on Colson's condition.

Colson, 80, fell ill while speaking Friday at a conference outside Washington and “underwent surgery on Saturday morning to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain,” the statement said.

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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Leaders • Politics

soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. Richard

    Colson was not guilty of political "dirty tricks". He was part of a burglary. Why the sugar coating. It was a Burglary.

    April 5, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • GDog

      Colton was NOT a thief anyway. He simply borrowed the items for perusal, thats all. And return them too, as he did.

      April 5, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  2. martin

    This man completely turned away from power and fame and to un-selfishly serve his God through a wonderful ministry. Yes, he made a mistake 40 years ago by blindly serving his party, but rarely does someone take a bad and make it this good. He was not a great man 40 years ago, but he is now.

    April 5, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  3. Scott

    Wow! I'm really creeped out now. The man is in the hospital in critical condition and his family is, I'm sure, quite upset. If this void of human decency and compassion is the brave new world the non-Christian posters here envision, they can keep it. Sheesh.

    April 5, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • LeeCMH

      What about all the hateful venom the Christians have spewed for decades. Suddenly, we forget? Recall the murder where the assailants screamed "here's another one for you Anita"? (Anita Bryant of the hateful Christian Save Our Children campaign). Go ahead, teeter your head in righteous indignation.

      April 5, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • LeeCMH

      Oh yes and what about the Catholic priest Guarnizo who refused communion during a FUNERAL! Yes, that very day, the Maryland marriage law was signed and Guarnizo was angry. He took it out on the funeral attendees. Goooooood Christian. Where is the common decency while people grieve their dead mother.

      April 5, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • William

      I see you know nothing of which you speak. You may be gain some faith in man if you did. Look up Prison Fellowship and try and drop your 'better than thou' baravdo and maybe you might be fortunate to be worthy to walk in this mans shadow? Not likely.

      April 5, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • sam stone

      Walk in the man's shadow? Why should I want to follow a felon?

      April 5, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Scott

      I'm not talking about Christians elsewhere or in another time. I am talking about the cruel behavior of people posting here. Just because you disagree with the man's views doesn't somehow make it OK for you to do wrong. Just because some people have done wrong doesn't make it OK for you to do wrong.

      I would expect an enlightened worldview to exhibit better manners and more nobility than that.

      April 5, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    April 5, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • gaston jones

      What was he convicted of ?

      April 5, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!".

      April 5, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  5. Camel Shmamel

    I ra pe d a camel once.

    April 5, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • I can spot prayer troll in three notes

      You are very obvious when you troll, just sayin. But it does show us your superior Christian goodness, so by all means, keep it up!

      April 5, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  6. Aria

    BTW....has he recovered?

    April 5, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • C'mon

      Why didn't you google it and find out? Do you really need other people to do your work for you?

      April 5, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • Sidewinder

      The camel?

      April 5, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  7. Aria

    I have worked with PFM for many years and have seen many lives turned around. Love is the only thing that can change unloved, unlovable, unlovely, and unloving. Become loved today and love others that need love.

    April 5, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  8. rousch15

    So what? Why should we give a rat's ass about this criminal?

    April 5, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Dave

      Because redemption is possible, and Colson exemplifies it. Without redemption (and serious legal/judicial reform too, BTW) our prisons continue to fill with people who are, in effect, condemned for life to be underclass.

      April 5, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • mommatocharlie

      Maybe because he's a human being who had paid for his offenses. And maybe because he's worth it.

      April 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
      • rousch15

        If Colson is a human being he should have behaved like Christ and supported people who showed mercy toward the poor and the disadvantaged, but he didn't. Colson is paying the price for the path he pursued.

        April 12, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  9. Pat Carew in Vancouver

    Chuck Colson had a great cameo in Kurt Vonnegut's "Slapstick".

    The lead character in Vonnegut's story was, at one point, in prison with Chuck Colson, an unrepentant creepo pseudo-Christian, who was proud to have undermined democracy.

    The work was fictional. Any resemblence to people living or dead are coincidental. So it goes.

    April 5, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • mandarax

      Quoth Mandarax:

      Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.
      — Samuel Johnson (1709–1784)

      What Mandarax didn’t tell her, and what her big brain certainly wasn’t going to tell her, was that, if she came up with an idea for a novel experiment which had a chance of working, her big brain would make her life a hell until she had actually performed that experiment.

      That, in my opinion, was the most diabolical aspect of those old-time big brains: They would tell their owners, in effect, “Here is a crazy thing we could actually do, probably, but we would never do it, of course. It’s just fun to think about.”

      And then, as though in trances, the people would really do it—have slaves fight each other to the death in the Colosseum, or burn people alive in the public square for holding opinions which were locally unpopular, or build factories whose only purpose was to kill people in industrial quant.ities, or to blow up whole cities, and on and on.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  10. Camel Shmamel

    When he dies, I wonder if the very rich Colson will have to try to pass through the eye of a needle before the let him in heaven.

    It's funny how rich Christians never worry about what Jesus said.

    April 4, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Tam-i-am

      Prison didn't change him, but Jesus did. Remember that he who is without sin should be the one to cast the first stone. Do you believe that is you? Making money for doing what you do is not a sin - I am assuming you are paid for your job.

      April 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Charles Lee Ray

      god doesn't exist. I don't know why the hell any of you keep bringing up this "heaven" bullshit.

      April 5, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Camel Shmamel

      You are contradicting Jesus. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to get into heaven. Jesus' words on the matter, and by the standards of Jesus' day, 80% of Americans are very rich.

      He also commanded that you are to sell your goods and give the money to the poor. Have you done that? Has Colson? Jesus commanded that repeatedly, and yet I have never met the Christian who has actually done it. I would agree that it is stunningly bad advice, but this is the Infallible Word of the Son of God that you and Colson are defying. How can Christians defy the word of their own God and pretend it is okay?

      Whether or not I am paid has nothing to do with Jesus' rules, which don't apply to me, because I am not Christian. Colson and you ARE Christians, and you are disobeying Jesus' direct instructions.

      Oh, the "Cast the first stone" thing was not part of the Bible originally. It did not start to show up for four centuries after the Bible was assembled, and went through changes for the next 100 years. It is spurious, an invention from later. And it also does not apply to me, because sin is a Christian guilt-trip, not a secular one.

      Stay focused on the matter at hand, just sayin.

      April 5, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  11. Charles Lee Ray

    What a crappy article about a rancid sack of garbage no one cares about. Too bad the surgery worked.

    April 4, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • GGinBhamAL

      You seem to be pretty crappy yourself, but if you ever have to undergo this surgery, I hope it works.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  12. Pipe-Dreamer

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT

    I turned the ripe ol' age of 57 earlier this year,,,, Because I have much free-time on my hands nowadays, I am left to consider God and His Majestic Realm(s) that He and His generations and Brethren inhabit. Looking around here upon Earth does seem to be void of any Godliness whatsoever so, one may conclude this Earthly realm is not inhabited by God nor His Kind. Where then might one avail themself to look for God's Realm(s)? Should one look toward the Holy Gospel in searching for God's Realm(s)? Okay, let's delve into the Gospel of the Holy Bible,,,,,

    Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

    Mathew's 6th chapter, 33rd verse says to "seek first" God's Kingdom,,,,, Okay,,,, Let's search the Holy Bible Scriptures in search of God's Kingdom,,,,

    Luk 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is "inside" you.

    Inside us is where the kingdom of God does lay? How can that be? We are made up of cells in the microscopic proportions. At least, this is what one sees when viewing structures thru a microscope. Can such cells be of God's Kingdom? How so?

    1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

    C'mon Holy Bible! Now scripture is telling me that not only do we labour together with God, He is at the center of our being conceived! Not to mention, We are but buildings,,,,, For what purposes and why and how are our bodies as buildings and does God dwell inside our bodies He says are buildings?

    May you dream well tonight ever aware of God's might!

    April 4, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Charles Lee Ray

      I have to take a dump.

      April 4, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  13. Amazing Grace

    "Amazing grace – how sweet the sound – that saved a wretch like me." Chuck Colson understands those timeless lyrics like very few do. He is no less a sinner (or for that matter, no more a sinner) than anyone else in the world – including all those who've posted comments here AND including this writer. Every person ever born is equally in need of God's grace. Chuck uniquely understands the inestimable value of that gift of grace he's been given – and wants everyone else to share that same blessing.

    One can argue and debate endlessly whether they think God exists – that argument will not and cannot be won based on the skill of the writer or speaker. What CANNOT be dismissed, however, is the proof of a life transormed. Again, lyrics from "Amazing Grace" say it best - "I once was blind, but now I see".

    There are literally countless thousands of men and women in prisons across America whose lives have been transformed by the grace of God and transforming power of Christ – through the work of Prison Fellowship. These "trophies of God's grace" are far more valuable – to Chuck and most importantly, to God – than anything money can buy. Speaking of which, 100% of Chuck's speaking fees and book revenue is donated directly to Prison Fellowship – furthering the work of helping prisoners and their families return to society.

    Neither I nor Chuck can control what is written on this comment post – both those factual entries and unfortunately, those that are simply untrue and/or mean-spirited. Perhaps Chuck said it best, however (paraphrasing his words) – "I could no more be mad at those who criticize or reject the Gospel than I could be mad at a blind man who steps on my foot." All I can do here – and all Chuck would do were he able – would be to point the reader to the one true God who is mighty to save.

    "I was blind, but now I see." God is in the sight-restoration business – just ask Him.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Jessica & Joshua

      Well said!
      May God's grace abound on Chuck Colson and his family in this hour of need.

      April 4, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Cort

      You are absolutely right.Colsons' latter life was a glorious one. He might have had a few bumps in his life but thank God he does not hold it against us. But for the grace of God....

      According to this article 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.

      That is the power of God's radical grace at work in transforming lives. Wish him well!

      April 4, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Amazing scam

      Amazing Grace was written by a slave trader, who after his revelation continued to sail slaves across the ocean in absolutely miserable conditions. The grace was surviving a storm, and not a thought to the dozens of humans chained in the bilge. His conversion did not change his attitude towards the inhumanity he was perpetrating and prospering from? It took him 34 years afterwards to realize that the horror he participated in was bad? Which was 15 years AFTER he wrote the song?

      What a guy. The opening line should be "Amazing grace, except for blacks."

      April 4, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • The Lord Loves Him!

      God's grace on Chuck Colson. He may have sold out his country for underhanded gains, and he may have profited tremendously by being a lobbyist for theocracy, but God loves him.

      Colson may have been a criminal while entrusted with amongst the highest power in America, but he is a Christian criminal, so we love him. He may have acted as an anti-Constitutional bully in recent years, but he is a Christian bully so we love him.

      God Bless Chuck Colson!

      April 4, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • A known Filipino

      Another example of theological warfare between the online religious looser community and the online looser atheist community

      April 5, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Wuthering Heights

      So that would make you part of the online non-alligned loser (notice the spelling) community.

      April 5, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • A known Filipino

      that is exactly correct Wuntering. Sorry for my spelling it's been about a week into spring break and I have forgotten how to spell.

      April 5, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Wuthering heights

      This is no place to be on Spring Break, bud. Go find a party, wake up and realize that you have no idea where you are or how you got there, whho that chick next to you is, and was she really that ugly last night when you met her. This place is for religious whacks and the bored atheists having a laugh at them. Go have some fun.

      Don't look back on your youth and realize you could have done some amazing things, but you wasted it in chat rooms and blogs.

      Go have some fun.

      April 5, 2012 at 1:27 am |
  14. Frank

    The Devil will meet him as he gets off of the boat on the other side of the River Styx

    April 4, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • It is what it looks like.

      Death is exactly what it looks like – you just stop. All the tall tales of what comes next are pure superstition and vanity.

      April 4, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • GGinBhamAL

      Frank, it looks like you're judging him. I think there's a verse about that...

      And to "It is what it looks like", how does anyone know that it just stops? Do you have any empirical proof? Try to be more open-minded.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  15. Frank

    The devil will meet him when leaves the boat on the other side of the River Styx.

    April 4, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • agstrange

      As will By-Tor and the Snow Dog.

      April 5, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  16. monnie11

    criminals, like colson, seem to always find jesus when all else fails & they find themselves in jail, don't they?

    April 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Yessiree Bob

      Jesus was very very VERY lucrative for Colson. He literally made millions off of it.

      April 4, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Maybe, but God knows the heart. WE don't need to place judgement.

      April 4, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • How's that again?

      How do you know that? You can't even prove God MIGHT exist, much less does, or even that your god is the correct god, and yet you think you know what he thinks and does? That's really arrogant.

      April 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      Arrogance is not unknown among True Believers.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:04 am |
    • mommatocharlie

      Yup, that's the way it works.

      April 8, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  17. Quiz Time!

    Q. What was the name that Nixon and his administration had for Colson?

    April 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Quiz Time!

      No takers? The answer is "The Evil Genius." Yes, his own friends called him evil.

      But he is much better now. Really.

      April 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • just sayin

      Read Chucks personal testimony in Born Again. God bless

      April 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Tyrannicide

      Easiest way to get a rid of a bad stigma? Born again. Supposedly you can do it more then once too.....I guess its like a never ending get out of hell card.

      April 4, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • Otto

      Chuck Colson is a tool, and the fact people like 'just sayin' let him off the hook because he is born again makes him a bigger tool, it allows people to just find god after every big indiscretion and they are suddenly AOK.

      Commit murder....born again.
      Rob old people of their retirement....born again.
      ect. ect.ect.

      April 4, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • GetReal

      Prayer is as useless as your imaginary sky gods.

      April 4, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • just sayin

      Prayer is as vital as the air we breathe. God bless

      April 4, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • momoya

      obviously not, just, since not praying doesn't result in physical death.

      April 4, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • just sayin

      It results in a spiritual death which is a much longer proposition. God bless

      April 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • DixT

      Chuck Colson spend the majority of his life helping others! FEW people can say that, today. And by the remarks above, you can split the Dems from the Republicans-in a New York minute!

      April 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs. .. .. .. .

      April 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  19. Pastor Greene

    I have the greatest respect for Chuck Colson. I pray he makes a complete and full recovery. I also pray that those who have spoken negative will never have to deal with a family member or themselves in this condition.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • just sayin

      Amen. God bless

      April 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      I agree Pastor. Once that tooth gets impacted it hurts like a muther fuker man.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Yuck!

      You are in awe of a pig. But he is a Christian pig, which makes it okay.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Otto

      I don't wish him ill will but that doesn't mean I respect him. He is a liar and is completly self serving.

      April 4, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  20. As long as you call yourself a Christian . . .

    Do Christians really have no ethical standards at all? Colson has lived his life as a ruthless monster, a political bully for Nixon then a political thug for Jesus.

    If Jack the Ripper hacked Obama into sushi in the name of Jesus, you Christians would all praise him as a brilliant Christian mind.

    April 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • DixT

      No, actually he lived a very small part of his life as a corrupt man-the MAJORITY of his life was spent helping others. And how do YOU help others?

      April 4, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • As long as you call yourself a Christian . . .

      Many many hours of charitable work each month, which I have done for years. Many thousands of dollars of charitable donations each year. Adopted a child. Treasurer and board member of a foundation, which I have done for year.

      I have received no money for doing so. None. Not a dime. No fame or status either. Colson made millions.

      A "very small part of his life". And the Third Reich was a very small part of Hitler's life.

      Colson was an unethical thug, and prison did not change that.

      April 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • GGinBhamAL

      Just because Colson may have been successful at helping others and making a 40 year impact on prisoners' lives, that no reason to hate the man. It seems that a lot of people don't believe that people should be forgiven for their mis-deeds, even after they've paid their debt to society.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • mommatocharlie

      Don't bet on it, unless he makes a confession of Christ before death.

      April 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
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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.