Entries in Christian (3)


Chuck Colson, Nixon 'Hatchet Man' Turned Preacher, Dead at 80 

Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Chuck Colson, a self-described "hatchet man" for the Nixon administration, who served seven months in prison for Watergate-related crimes before starting a Christian prison ministry, died on Saturday. He was 80 years old.

Colson died Saturday afternoon from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage at the Fairfax Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Virginia, according to his website. His wife, Patty, and other family members were with Colson when he died.

On March 31, 2012 Colson received emergency surgery for a blood clot on his brain after becoming sick at a speaking engagement the day before. Colson had been in critical condition since the surgery, and was kept in intensive care.

Indicted in 1974 for his role in attempting to cover up the Watergate burglary, Colson arranged a plea deal in which he confessed to his role in obstructing justice in another investigation. Colson admitted to organizing a break-in at the psychiatrist office of Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who brought to light the Nixon administration’s Vietnam War strategy with what would come to be called the Pentagon Papers.

Colson served as President Nixon's special counsel from 1969 to 1973, and became the first of the so-called Watergate Seven to serve prison time for their roles in a series of crimes including the break-in and cover up at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC.

Colson had a reputation for ruthlessness in the administration. Associated with Nixon's Committee to Re-elect the President, or CREEP, Colson put together a list informally known as Nixon's Enemies List, comprised of political opponents. He was widely quoted in the media for saying he would drive over his own grandmother to keep Nixon in the White House.

Soon after his arrest, Colson became a born-again Christian. Derided at the time for his courthouse conversion, conservative commenter William Buckley called it a "huge joke."

In 1974, Colson served seven months of a three-year sentence for obstruction of justice related to the Ellsberg case.

Not long after his release from prison, in 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship, which eventually became the world's largest prison ministry, operating in detention facilities in 113 countries.

"I've worked with, quite literally, thousands of men and women in hundreds of prisons all over the world and I have seen countless conversions," Colson told ABC News in 2007. "Prison is a tough environment with few distractions, there is ample time to take a hard look at yourself."

Colson's own conversion made him a darling of the religious right. GOP presidential contender and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum routinely invokes Colson's story on the stump.

"I love him and pray for him and his family," Santorum told ABC News through his spokeswoman.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Franklin Graham Questions Obama’s Christian Faith

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, questioned the president’s religious faith Tuesday, saying he was unsure whether Obama was a Christian.

“I think you have to ask President Obama,” Graham said when asked on MSNBC’s Morning Joe whether the president is a Christian. “He has said he’s a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is.”

While Graham said there was “no question” that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum is a man of faith, he doesn’t know whether the president is a Christian. The reverend also declined to say whether he thought Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith qualified him as a Christian.

“He’s a Mormon,” he said.  “Most Christians would not recognize Mormonism as part of the Christian faith.”

The CEO and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said Obama told him he started attending church only because community groups in Chicago told him he needed to do so to work with them.

“You have to go by what a person says and how they live their life and where they go to church.  Are they faithful church-goers?  Or do they just go when the cameras are on them,” Graham said.

Graham explained his belief that the Muslim world sees Obama as a “son of Islam” because of his father’s religious beliefs.

“Under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a Muslim. … That’s just the way it works,” he said.  “That’s the way they see him.  But, of course, he says he didn’t grow up that way, he doesn’t believe in that, he believes in Jesus Christ, so I accept that.”

Graham also raised concerns about the president’s dedication to Christians living in Muslim countries, saying Islam has had a “free pass” under the Obama administration.

“[Under] President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries.  That’s what bothers me,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


President Obama Prays 'A Lot' Amid Crises

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama says he's been doing "a lot of praying" in recent weeks while faced with tough choices on Libya and other crises at home and abroad.

"I am praying that I'm making the best possible decisions, and that I've got the strength to serve the American people well," he said in an interview Tuesday with ABC News' Diane Sawyer.

While the president has not shied away from openly discussing his prayer life, Obama's comments are the latest reminder that he believes faith in God has helped him navigate the presidency's difficult moments.

At the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington last month, Obama described how the shooting tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, had deepened his faith and how watching his daughters grow up makes him lean on God a little bit more.

"My prayers sometimes are general: Lord, give me the strength to meet the challenges of my office," he said.  "Sometimes they're specific: Lord, give me patience as I watch Malia go to her first dance.  Where there will be boys, Lord, have that skirt get longer as she travels to that dance."

Despite Obama's public professions on religion and spirituality, many Americans continue to doubt the president's faith.

Nearly one in five Americans incorrectly believes that Obama is a Muslim, according to a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released late last year.

The poll found the number surveyed who knew correctly that Obama is Christian actually declined, from 48 percent in March 2009 to 34 percent in August 2010.  Forty-three percent of Americans now say they don't know what Obama's religion is at all.

The president has defended against the skepticism, and said that his faith has helped him endure the difficult questions.

"My Christian faith ... has been a sustaining force for me over these last few years -- all the more so when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time," Obama said last month.  "We are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us but whether we're being true to our conscience and true to our God." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio