by Edd Doerr
By now you will have read the obituaries for Charles Colson, Nixon's "hatchet man", who died on April 21, and about his conversion to evangelical Christianity shortly before his incarceration. While I cannot judge the man's sincerity, I have the opinion that his personality did not change much. As a disbarred lawyer he became a big shot in evangelical circles and a strong opponent of church-state separation, teaming up with like-minded fundamentalists and such ultraconservative Catholics as the late Lutheran minister turned Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things.
Several years ago the Washington Times sponsored a well-attended panel discussion on religious freedom issues in Washington. I was present. Among the eight panelists, four conservative and four liberal, were Colson and columnist and former Falwell minion Cal Thomas, whom I have debated and clobbered. (The late U of Richmond historian Bob Alley and I debated Thomas and Phyllis Schlaffly at Converse College in SC.) Thomas has long had a nasty mean streak, but at the Wash Times affair Colson really outdid him. Colson hardly fit the image of a nice guy Christian gentleman.
The only other time that I saw Colson personally was in 1987 at Georgetown Hospital in Washington. I was there in a waiting room to visit a friend who was there for cancer treatment. Colson was also there in the waiting room talking with another guy. What is interesting is that at that very time in the very same part of the hospital former C.I.A. director William Casey was dying. Was there a connection between Casey and Colson? I do not know.