April 21, 2012
Evangelical leader and prison ministry founder Chuck Colson died this afternoon from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage, the Christian Post reports. He was 80. "Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most eloquent and influential voices today," said Prison Fellowship, the ministry Colson founded in 1976 shortly after serving a seven-month prison sentence for charges stemming from the 1972 Watergate scandal. Once known as President Richard Nixon's "evil genius," Colson read a copy of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity while he was facing arrest, which led to his dramatic conversion. Two years later, he published the memoir Born Again, which was made into a 1978 film of the same title. For more than 30 years, Colson ministered to inmates through Prison Fellowship, and was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President George W. Bush in 2008 for his faith-based outreach in 1,300 correctional facilities in all 50 U.S. states and 110 countries. "Whatever good I may have done is because God saw fit to reach into the depths of Watergate and convert a broken sinner," Colson said in 2008 in response to receiving the award. Colson was speaking at a conference in D.C. on March 30 when his speech became garbled and he had to sit down, according to witnesses. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he underwent surgery to remove a pool of clotted pool on the surface of his brain.