Charles W. Colson


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Charles (Chuck) W. Colson
1931- 2012

Founder of Prison Fellowship®

Colson founded Prison Fellowship®, which, together with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families, with ministry taking place in 113 countries around the globe.

Today Prison Fellowship has numerous ways for Christians to join in ministry that is not only transforming prisoners and their families, but also transforming the criminal justice system, our communities, and the culture itself: From in-prison Bible studies and mentoring programs to helping the children of prisoners understand how much God loves them, from advocating for biblically based justice reforms to promoting a biblical worldview.

In November of 2009, Chuck Colson and a dozen evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox leaders faced the microphones and announced the release of an historic document—one of the most important documents produced by the American church, at least in our lifetime.  It is called the Manhattan Declaration, and signed by over 140 leaders representing every branch of American Christianity.

The Manhattan Declaration is a wake-up call—a call to conscience—for the church. It is also crystal-clear message to civil authorities that we will not, under any circumstances, stand idly by as our religious freedom comes under assault.

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He announced the Manhattan Declaration on his radio program, BreakPoint:

The Declaration begins by reminding readers that for 2,000 years, Christians have borne witness to the truths of their faith. This witness has taken various forms—proclamation, seeking justice, resisting tyranny, and reaching out to the poor, oppressed, and suffering.


In his most recent book, The Faith, Colson issues an urgent call to the Church to recapture its passion for the historical, orthodox truths of Christianity–especially in this age when the Church is besieged on all sides by secularism, radical Islam, and militant atheism.

While Colson is one of the Christian community’s most sought-after speakers, he has resolutely refused to establish a speaking fee. Perhaps anticipating criticism of any appearance of self-enrichment by a former Watergate figure, Colson donates all speaking honoraria and book royalties to Prison Fellowship, and accepts the salary of a mid-range ministry executive.

In recognition of his work, Colson received the prestigious Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1993, donating the $1 million prize to Prison Fellowship. And in 2008, Colson was honored by President Bush with the Presidential Citizens Medal for his years of work with prisoners and their families, which Colson accepted on behalf of the volunteers and staff of Prison Fellowship. Colson’s other awards have included the Humanitarian Award, Dominos Pizza Corporation (1991); The Others Award, The Salvation Army (1990); several honorary doctorates from various colleges and universities (1982-2000); and the Outstanding Young Man of Boston, Chamber of Commerce (1960).

Despite his work critiquing the culture, Colson’s heart is ever with the prisoner. He has clearly never forgotten the promise he made to his fellow inmates during his brief stay in prison: that he would “never forget” those behind bars.

Prison Fellowship and related ministries:

Prison Fellowship

Angel Tree

Justice Fellowship

InnerChange Freedom Initiative

Operation Starting Line


Colson Center

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views the Virginia Christian Alliance

About the Author

Virginia Christian Alliance
The mission of the VIRGINIA CHRISTIAN ALLIANCE is to promote moral, social and scientific issues we face today from a Biblical point of view. In addition we will refute and oppose, not with hate, but with facts and humor, the secular cultural abuses that have overridden laws and standards of conduct of the past. We will encourage Christians to participate in these efforts through conferences, development of position papers, booklets and tracts, radio/TV spots, newspaper ads and articles and letters-to-the editor, web sites, newsletters and providing speakers for church and civic meetings.