I ARRIVE IN TORONTO during gay pride week. The lampposts lining the city streets fly rainbow flags. Inside the Sheraton are still more rainbows, small ones on sticks stuck into the mulched flowerbeds surrounding the ten- foot waterfall cascading into a pool edged with flagstones. Every time I see one, I can’t help wondering what Chuck Colson might think of this open support for gay rights. He believes one can be delivered from homosexuality. In common parlance, they should pray away the gay.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Colson, legal counsel to President Nixon, one of the Watergate Seven, and author of the infamous Nixon Enemies List, a litany of politicians, business leaders, media heads, journalists, and celebrities who he proposed needed to be “screwed with” in order to protect Nixon’s 1972 bid for reelection, among them the heads of the AFL-CIO and UAW, and Paul Newman.
Hunter S. Thompson, who covered the 1972 campaign for Rolling Stone, wrote that Colson was Nixon’s “hatchet man,” an “evil genius” who “should be tied by his testicles behind an Olds 88 and dragged down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Three years later Colson pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for his role in Watergate and was sentenced to one to three years in prison. He served only seven months. During this time, he read Lewis’s Mere Christianity and was born again.
Commentators questioned the sincerity of his conversion, smelling a ploy to get an early release. The Boston Globe wrote, “If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there just has to be hope for everybody.” But following his release he did not return to political thug life. He founded Prison Fellowship International, now one of the largest Christian aid organizations in the world, spanning 119 countries and every region of the world.