Religious Left Figure Implies Chuck Colson Is in Hell

After the death of evangelical leader Chuck Colson, Frank Schaeffer wrote a scathing rebuke of Colson's life and implied that he was in hell.

"Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most beloved and bigoted homophobic and misogynistic voices with the death of Charles W. 'Chuck' Colson, a Watergate felon who converted to 'evangelicalism' but never lost his taste for dirty political tricks against opponents," Schaeffer wrote.

Schaeffer complained about Colson's political activism, which he described as "far right," and seemed particularly offended that Colson would seek to work with Catholics on issues where evangelicals and Catholics find common cause.

He ended the post by suggesting that only political liberals can be true Christians, and that Colson must be in the same place as former President Richard Nixon, or hell, the reader assumes.

"Few men have done more to trade (betray?) the gospel of love for the gospel of empowering corporate America and greed through the misuse of the so-called culture war issues to get lower middle class whites to vote against their own economic interests in the name of 'family values.' Wherever Nixon is today he must be welcoming a true son of far right dirty politics to eternity with a 'job well done.'"

Schaeffer also implied that Colson was in hell in the original title to the Sunday blog post, "Religious Right Bigot Chuck Colson Goes to His Reward," before changing the title to, "Colson: An Evangelical Homophobic Anti-Woman Leader Passes On."

Not everyone on the political left used the occasion of Colson's death to describe the parts of Colson's life that they disliked.

Colson had also worked with Jim Wallis, a politically liberal evangelical who founded Sojourners, on issues where they found common cause. The Sojourner's website has a remembrance of Colson highlighting the aspects of his life's work that it appreciates.

"I was impressed with how Chuck had allowed his own experience of prison and of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ to shape his new vocation which led to Prison Fellowship now the largest prison ministry in the world. It is for that prophetic ministry he will be most remembered," Wallis said.

Mark Tooley, president of The Institute on Religion and Democracy, took exception to Schaeffer's post, writing, "Unlike the power obsessed, Religious Right stereotype preferred by Schaeffer, Colson emphasized private ministry over political action. Chastened by his own role in the Nixon Administration, Colson warned fellow evangelicals not to rely on the pursuit of power."

Colson had a reputation for "dirty politics" when he worked in the Nixon White House. He became a Christian during the Watergate scandal. As a result of his conversion, he became aware of his guilt regarding political activities unrelated to Watergate. After revealing what he had done while testifying in a Watergate trial, he was sent to prison. After prison, he founded Prison Fellowship, the largest global ministry to prisoners.

Frank Schaeffer is the son of Francis Schaeffer, one of the most influential evangelical theologians of the 21st century. Francis Schaeffer was also one of Colson's favorite authors. Francis Schaeffer's life work spanned from the 1960s to the 1980s. While he was popular within a subset of the hippie movement in the 1960's, he became active in conservative political causes in the 1980s, particularly on the issue of abortion.

Frank Schaeffer is often credited with convincing his father to become more politically active. Frank Schaeffer later rejected his conservative political activism and now champions liberal causes. In 2008, he wrote Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back, which described this conversion.

As a conservative political activist, he had a reputation for his bombastic style. While his politics has changed, his style has not.


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