Religious Right's Charles Colson Training "Centurions" for Culture War


By Joseph L. Conn

The Washington Post featured a scary article today about Charles Colson, the Nixon-era hatchet-man turned Religious Right commanding general.

Colson, the newspaper says, is quietly training a cadre of fundamentalist true believers who will take their “biblical worldview” into every area of life, including American politics.

“They are called Centurions, a name that conjures battle-hardened Roman soldiers,” the article reports. “They number 640, and their marching orders from their commander are clear — to expand Christ’s kingdom.”

Says the 79-year-old Colson, “What this country needs is a movement.”  (And we thought the Religious Right – sadly – has been filling that niche since 1980.)

One of Colson’s colleagues explained the goal.  Chip Mahon, a retired financial services executive who sits on the board of BreakPoint, the umbrella group for Colson’s various ministries, told The Post, “The point was to get more people to be like Chuck.”

Personally speaking – and with all due respect – I don’t want more people to “be like Chuck.”

The Post said Colson “doesn’t usually sound strident when he talks about hot-button social issues and is viewed more as the wise grandfather of the religious right.”

Maybe The Post isn’t paying close enough attention.

As my colleague Sandhya Bathija reported last year, this is a man with a hard-right theocratic agenda.

Back in 2007, he attacked Islam, calling the religion a “vicious evil.” As Sandhya noted, he blasted Islam’s theocratic tendencies and insisted that Christianity, in contrast, promotes “free will.”  Yet, he went on to tell Southern Baptist pastors that their purpose should be “to take command and dominion over every aspect of life, whether it’s music, science, law, politics, communities, families, to bring Christianity to bear in every single area of life.”

In June of 2009, Colson was the featured speaker at an Atlanta conference for the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, a group whose founder celebrates theocracy, defends slavery as biblical and expresses regret that the Confederacy lost the Civil War.

More recently, Colson has joined forces with Roman Catholic, evangelical and Orthodox leaders to push a document called the “Manhattan Declaration,” which essentially urges Americans to defer to conservative religious leaders to make all decisions for the United States.

Colson once criticized evangelical Christians for being inadequately militant, charging that too many of them “worship at the altar of the bitch goddess of tolerance.” He has even blasted the Girl Scouts for their sex education efforts, warning that “we need to be on the lookout for radical, destructive worldviews everywhere  – even behind the boxes of Girl Scout cookies.”

Umm, not that grandfatherly, if you ask me.

I think tolerance is a good thing, I don’t think any religion ought to “take command and dominion” over American life and I like Girl Scout cookies.  I think the majority of Americans agree with me. Now, we have to make sure Colson’s cadres don’t triumph.

Chuck, bring on your Army of Clones, we’ve got our constitutional lightsabers ready.


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