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Go to IHeartRadio.com slash IHeartland to get started today. And we continue with our American stories often considered one of the smartest men to pass through Washington, D.C. In his own political culture, Chuck Colson, who served as special counsel to President Richard Nixon, served seven months in the Federal Maxwell Prison in Alabama in 1974 as the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate related crimes. This is that story and its subsequent fallout told by the man himself. We'd like to thank Chuck Colson's dear friends at the Acton Institute who graciously provided us with this audio. It was the last interview Chuck Colson granted any media organization before passing at the age of 80. Let's begin with a montage of clips summarizing Colson's Watergate trial, followed by Chuck sharing his story. I will say to you, Mr. Schor, what I've said publicly to others, and that is that I had no knowledge and no involvement in the Watergate incident of any kind. That's I think all I should say. At no time did I engage in any unlawful or illegal act in connection with this matter. There is much that the public has not been told about the circumstances surrounding this matter, and a great deal more I believe will be revealed in the course of this proceeding.
Thank you. There was an unexpected and important development today in the Watergate investigations. Charles Colson has made an arrangement with the special prosecutor to tell all he knows about Watergate as a witness for the prosecution. I have watched with a very heavy heart the country I love being torn apart by the most divisive and bitter controversy in our nation's history. If this is to be a government of laws and not of men, then those men entrusted with enforcing the laws must be held to account for the natural consequences of their own actions. Not only is it morally right that I plead to this charge, but I fervently hope that this case will serve to prevent similar abuses in the future. I did everything my way, and it crashed and burned. I was a driven guy.
I had grown up in the Depression years where I saw neighbors standing in bread lines. I was going to get to the top no matter what. No matter what, because I wasn't going to ever be caught in the position that I saw my parents in. I won't say I didn't have a conscience. I did. I had almost a self-righteousness about me.
Self-righteousness is the worst enemy of all because you can't see your own sins. I ended up going to prison because of that. Little did I realize that my reward for being three and a half years in the White House, I'd end up in prison, but I did. For me, going to prison was a shock. You're thrown a pair of underpants with five numbers stenciled on them.
I knew I was the sixth person to get that pair of underpants. So it's very dehumanizing, and I felt shame. I'd look out in that field.
I really have made a mess of it. I'd always thought about prisons where they're hardened convicts, and they're breaking rocks, or they're behind bars, or they're violent people. There were a lot of nights when I'd wake up with this cold chill come over me thinking I can get beaten up or abused. You know what prisons are like. There's a lot of forced rape in prisons. Are you going as a high-profile former government official?
Are there going to be guys that are going to want to get to you? That's a big drop. I couldn't have made it without Christ in my life. I know that.
And I couldn't have made it, if there was in the back of my mind, a belief that God had a purpose for this. In the White House, you're dealing with statistics and numbers and sizes of prisons, and you see justice as something that has to be administered by the state. And if these guys have broken the law, good enough for them. They belong in prison. In prison, I discovered a lot of human beings who had committed crimes. We had a mix of people from every kind of crime you could imagine, every strata of life, and I discovered they're all like I am. I suddenly realized I'm not any different than these guys.
I'm not any better than these guys. I committed a crime, too. Mine was, you know, nobody got killed, but we were both prisoners.
We had that common identification. It was a great eye-opening experience for me. I knew them to be as good people as I'd known in my life anyway. I mean, they could be my neighbors, could be my closest friends. I felt a real burden for them because I saw them with nothing to do, most of them.
They'd lie on their bunks and they'd stare into the emptiness, and they're rotting, and their souls are corroding. And that's the worst part about prison, is this feeling of you have no purpose, you have no meaning, nobody cares about you. So I really found myself caring for them as human beings. And while it was the most difficult experience of my life, I can stand here tonight and honestly say to you that I thank God for it because in prison, I truly found freedom. When I was released from prison, I was 42 years old. I'd had a very successful law firm. I knew how to make money practicing law.
I could have gone back and done it, but I thought this was a time in my life when I should take stock. And it was during that period that I woke up in the middle of the night with what seemed to me a vision of what God wanted. Well, in less than a month, Minnesota will join three other states turning to the church for help in rehabilitating prisoners. The Department of Corrections is teaming up with a Christian group called Prison Fellowship. I came to love men and I came to know them as brothers, men that before in my life I'd have gone to any lengths to avoid meeting or being with.
But above all, I saw the miracle of how God works in the life of man. Inmates have a capacity for scoping you out faster than any group of people I've ever met. And it's because they're con men, many of them, and they've been conned by the best, and they look at everybody through their prism, through their lens.
And if you're sincere, if you're sincere, they know it like that. People say to me, oh, well, you were the law and order Nixon guy, and now you're soft on crime, you're working with inmates. No, I'm not soft on crime. I want to stop crime, but I want to stop it by the only way to ever be stopped, and that's changing the human heart.
The problem is not education, the problem is not poverty, the problem is not race. The problem is the breakdown of moral values in American life, and the criminal justice system can't respond. I've seen the moral roots of the criminal justice problem, and I realize as a Christian what's causing it.
I've seen people broken in that prison experience and come out understanding the incarnation better than people who haven't been to prison, perhaps, because they know what it is to be broken, they know what Christ did for them on the cross. They know what he took away. I thought back about my time in the White House, and I can't remember, I don't remember anybody ever coming to me and saying, what you did with the president with all these big decisions affected my life. That's what drew me into politics. I thought I could transform people's lives, and I discovered I couldn't do it.
It's what we can accomplish as we deal with people, and my greatest satisfaction, the greatest thing I think about is things I've been able to do for others. Mr. Charles Colson wants the toughest of the White House tough guys, a man believed by many to be standing in the need of prayer as well as a good defense lawyer. Mr. Colson has made page one with the news of his conversion to religion.
A good many people here anxious to believe in something are quite willing to take Colson's change of heart as real. I have committed my life to Jesus Christ. I can work for the Lord in prison or out of prison.
That's how I want to spend my life. If there are people in need, you've got to be meeting their needs. If you really feel what they're going through, if you can really identify with that, then you get a burden for it. That's the root of compassion. You're living in that person's world instead of your own. Now, that isn't necessary. You can identify with people with compassion without having had to experience that.
Sharing in the suffering is what gives you the common bond. But having been there, it was indelibly impressive on me. And a great job as always to Greg Hengler. And again, a special thanks to the Acton Institute for providing us that audio of a most extraordinary life. And those words that he just said, I can work for the Lord in prison and out of prison.
That's how I want to spend my life. A lot of people were skeptical when Coulson announced that he'd found God and wanted to serve his Lord. But boy, after a lifetime of work, there were no cynics and skeptics left.
And all of prison reform, all of modern day prison reform, all of the talk of compassion, it started with a guy named Chuck Coulson. A real beauty, a real beauty about God's grace here on Our American Stories. Ready to play some tennis? Let's do it. Are you going to put your phone away? No. Roto makes it so easy to buy a car. I could do both at once. It's really that easy?
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So when you're driving through a new town, discovering a national park or just curious about the origin of your city's name, you can listen to a quick three to five minute story covering our history from the first peoples to famous places and insights only locals would know. Looking forward to spring break, graduation and girls nights out? Get outfitted today at Lulu's. Lulu's is all about providing on trend looks for any occasion, whether it's a current trend or a closet staple, you can find it at Lulu's. And when you make an account with Lulu's, use code Lulu's fan 20 to save 20 percent off your first order. That's Lulu's fan 20. Place your order today at Lulu's dot com. Terms and conditions apply. See Lulu's dot com for details.
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