Leading pro-life advocates are remembering pro-life advocate and Christian activist Chuck Colson, who passed away over the weekend. Colson, a writer who graced the LifeNews web site dozens of times with his insightful analysis and opinion, was in critical condition following emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain.
On March 30, Colson became ill while speaking at a Colson Center for Christian Worldview conference in Lansdowne. The following morning he had surgery to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain, and doctors determined he had suffered an intracerebral hemorrhage. Though Colson remained in intensive care, doctors and family were optimistic for a recovery as he showed some signs of improvement. However, on April 17, Colson became gravely ill when further complications developed.
Colson spent the last years of his life in the dual role of leading Prison Fellowship, the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families, and the Colson Center, a research and training center focused on Christian worldview teaching.
Colson has been a central figure in the evangelical Christian community since he shocked the Washington establishment in 1973 by revealing his new Christian commitment in the midst of the Watergate inquiry. In later years Colson would say that because he was known primarily as Nixon’s “Hatchet Man,” the declaration that ” ‘I’ve been born again and given my life to Jesus Christ’ kept the political cartoonists of America clothed and fed for a solid month.” It also gave new visibility to the emerging movement of “born-again” Christians.
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.
Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest called Chuck Colson “an inspirational leader who used his past experiences to build a ministry that transformed the lives of many.”
Yoest made the following statement: “At the heart of the pro-life movement is the certainty that one life can make a difference, and Chuck Colson is proof of that. While he became well-known through his political career in Washington, D.C., it was through his ministry, Prison Fellowship, that he lived out his faith and demonstrated transformative spiritual and cultural leadership. Chuck Colson launched a visionary movement with his quiet dignity and concern for others. He also provided thoughtful analysis of the society in which we live, eloquently defending his belief that all life is valuable, from conception to natural death. At Americans United for Life, we send our condolences to his family and our encouragement to the people at Prison Fellowship who make such a significant contribution to people in need of love and support.”
Billy Graham also remembered Chuck Colson in a statement:
“When I get to heaven and see Chuck again, I believe I will also see many, many people there whose lives have been transformed because of the message he shared with them,” he said. “He will be greatly missed by many, including me. I count it a privilege to have called him friend.”
Franklin Graham said in a statement: “Chuck Colson was one of the great Christian statesmen of our generation. His life and testimony impacted my life. I was in my early 20s when his book Born Again was released. It was one of the first Christian books I ever read and was a powerful and life-changing influence. Over the years we had the opportunity to work together from time to time. Not only was he a statesman, but a role model and example to thousands. He will be missed and cannot be replaced. His courageous voice that spoke the truth of Jesus Christ to the hearts of so many, will impact lives for years to come.”
Former presidential candidate and Senator Rick Santorum issued the following statement upon learning of the passing of Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries:
“Karen and I were deeply saddened to learn about Chuck’s passing. Over the last few years, both in and out of public life, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Chuck and have admired him and his commitment to living out his faith,” Santorum said. “Chuck was a humble man who learned from his own frailty to care for the ‘least of these,’ especially prisoners. His work to bring Christianity to those who were in their darkest days changed the lives of many.”
Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council, had the following remarks on the passing of Chuck Colson: “Chuck Colson touched the lives of so many after building one of the most transformative ministries of our time – Prison Fellowship Ministries. Rooted in one man’s deliverance, Prison Fellowship now reaches incarcerated men and women in countries throughout the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nearly four decades ago, he experienced a conversion that has multiplied God’s grace to millions of people worldwide. He inspired tens of thousands of volunteers to heed the words of Jesus to visit Him in prison. I have long admired Chuck Colson, because of his commitment to showing both the truth and the love of Jesus Christ. By his example, he taught Christians how to fully integrate one’s Christian faith with a role in the public realm.”
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Carl Moeller, Ph.D., also commented and said, “Like a sequoia, Chuck Colson has seeded many of us on the issues of human dignity and religious liberty.”
“For example, his book, How Now Shall We Live? (with Nancy Pearcey), which speaks so powerfully about the integration of the Christian faith into every area of human life—including art, politics and academia—thrilled me as I studied in seminary,” he added. “Absorbing the message of this book marked a clear milestone in my Christian faith.”
“That voice is exemplified in his spearheading of the Manhattan Declaration, a significant statement calling on Christians to keep human dignity, marriage and religious liberty at the top of our agendas at this moment in history. I enthusiastically, and gratefully, signed the Declaration and urge other believers to do the same,” he said.
“Many of our laws in this country are built upon the fantasy that birth, not existence, bestows a fetus with personhood. If you kill a newborn in the United States, as infamous Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell did for decades, you go to jail. But just minutes prior, that same act of killing can be legal,” he wrote. “This is nonsense. I’m praying that articles from ethicists like Giubilini and Minerva will wake people up to the reality of what they’re justifying. If enough people start to get it, then it won’t matter what a few academic elites think. Legal abortion will crumble before the outcry of decent, moral people, just as it did when early Christians dared to speak out against infanticide and abortion in their time.”
“Tell your friends about this. Press people on it. If they’re not willing to condone infanticide, how can they favor abortion? Maybe they’ll be willing to admit that a person really is a person — no matter how small,” he concluded.