Charles Colson needs to be held accountable for lying

Charles Colson is lying. Again. Still. It’s what he does.

Colson is a very strange man. His habitual lying isn’t strange. Nor is the fact that he’s using these lies to boost his fundraising. Lying for money isn’t strange at all, unfortunately.

But the particular lie Colson is repeating, over and over, is a strange lie:

Secretary of State Clinton … and other officials repeatedly use the term “freedom of worship” (a private act) versus “freedom of religion,” (which the Constitution protects, which is the freedom to live out one’s faith in public).

Colson keeps saying this. It isn’t true. Colson knows it isn’t true. But he keeps saying it anyway.

It’s a weird lie in that it requires an artificial distinction of supposed great import between the common phrases “freedom of worship” and “freedom of religion.” And it’s a weird lie because it is so easily disproved. It can be disproved hundreds of times over with examples of Clinton, President Barack Obama and scores of other officials in the Obama administration using the phrase “freedom of religion.” And it can be disproved hundreds of times over with examples of previous Republican administrations using the phrase “freedom of worship” in exactly the way that Colson is now pretending is somehow nefarious.

Part of Norman Rockwell's "war on religion."

Part of Colson’s problem, I think, is that he came of age as a political dirty trickster in the last century and simply hasn’t kept up with technology. He doesn’t seem to realize that the public statements of public officials are now easily accessible — and searchable — online. He thus thinks he can still get away with blunt assertions that the secretary of state and the president have not been saying something they both have said routinely and repeatedly. He seems to imagine that refuting his obvious lie would require someone to go to a library and physically thumb through hard copies of obscure government records.

Charles Colson doesn’t realize that Google makes it very easy to prove he’s lying.

But the main reason that Charles Colson continues lying is that no one holds him accountable for it.

He talks the Jesus talk, so he gets a free pass. He’s anti-abortion and anti-gay, and in the evangelical subculture that means you’re allowed to lie with impunity. (See also: Perkins, Tony.)

So here is a desperate attempt to convince someone, somewhere to please hold Charles Colson accountable for lying. The man is bearing false witness — knowingly, intentionally and lucratively. And he is doing so because none of the good Christian people he deals with will ever have the courage or the decency to call him on it.

The radio stations that carry “Breakpoint” do not seem to care that Charles Colson is lying.

The supporters of Prison Fellowship do not seem to care that Charles Colson is lying.

The supporters of Angel Tree do not seem to care that Charles Colson is lying.

The editors and directors of Christianity Today, where he is a columnist, do not seem to care that Charles Colson is lying.

It would be nice if some of those people did care. It would be nice if some of them decided, at the very least, that their close and uncritical association with an unrepentant bearer of false witness might eventually prove harmful to their own reputations.

It would be really nice if some of these good Christian people who work closely with Charles Colson would decide to talk to Colson about this lie he’s been telling and maybe — just maybe — try to convince him to, perhaps, stop lying.

That would be nice.

  • Daughter

    Fred, do you have any weight or connections with the above people?

  • Persephone

    It would be really nice if good Christian people did a lot of things, but it’s been my bitter experience that they don’t.

  • Anonymous

    Ah Fred, Chucky hates gay people and abortion that means he’s a Real Christian. Lies aren’t bad if they only hurt Those People. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to need a very stiff drink. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    He’s not going to stop lying. And he’s not going to lose his venues for lying. No one who associates with him is going to lose any reputation among people who matter to them. 

    Remember, in Left Behind, it’s not okay to lie to the (male) Antichrist, but it’s okay to lie to your daughter. It’s good to push her into the arms of a man who humiliates her to make her cry, and overpowers her with a sexual act to shut her up. It’s right to smile when she’s miserable and sobbing. Hurting women (and gay people and non-white people and poor people) is, in itself, a worthy goal to this group of assholes. So long as Charles Colson keeps doing that, they’re peachy with him. 

  • Tonio

    I allow for the possibility that Colson and people like him really think of “freedom of religion” in the societal sense. They fetishize the “Pilgrims” as seeking freedom to worship as they want, as if Plymouth was a forerunner of the modern state of Israel. This would still mean they’re still lying, it’s just a different lie from what Fred suggests.

  • Mau de Katt

    It’s a weird lie in that it requires an artificial distinction of
    supposed great import between the common phrases “freedom of worship”
    and “freedom of religion.”

    It’s just the same sort of mentality that causes the “birthers” to scream that Obama hasn’t provided his birth certificate because it says “Certificate of Live Birth” on it instead of “Birth Certificate.” 

  • Lori

    It’s a weird lie in that it requires an artificial distinction of
    supposed great import between the common phrases “freedom of worship”
    and “freedom of religion.”

    Colson is a dog whistler, talking to dog whistlers. None of them see anything the slightest bit odd about creating artificial distinctions of great import between common phrases. Colson knows that he’s lying, but he also knows that his audience will never even bother to consider the possibility that he’s lying, let alone look it up. They will simply assume that Chuck is smart for having broken the Liberal code and brave for daring to announce his discovery in public. Cha ching.

    The supporters of Prison Fellowship do not seem to care that Charles Colson is lying.

    Why in the world would the supporters of Prison Fellowship care that Colson is lying about statements made by Clinton & Obama? They don’t care that Colson lies about Prison Fellowship and always has. (Colson has fraudulently exaggerated the success of Prison Fellowship in really obvious ways from the very beginning of the program and no one of any power or importance has ever seemed to care. Because Jesus, that’s why.)

  • P J Evans

    because it says “Certificate of Live Birth” on it instead of “Birth Certificate.”

    Thereby demonstrating that they’ve never seen their own birth certs: that’s the usual name on the form.

  • Lori

     No one needs to look at their birth certificates. They’re white, therefore they are obviously American.

  • P J Evans

    And they never leave the country, therefore they don’t need passports, and they don’t have driver’s licenses – yes, they do want ID for those, at least the first time – or register to vote….

  • Lori

    I’ve provided a copy of my birth certificate for those things, but I never looked at it that closely and none of the officials who required it has ever more than glanced at it.

    That’s been consistently true even thought mine is kind of unusual in that it’s not actually my original cert. My original was sealed when I was given up for adoption and the one I have, which is my only legal birth certificate, is the one issued by the state with my adoptive parents’ names on it. I have no memory of what it’s called, even though I know it says something on the top. I certainly couldn’t tell you anything about the kerning.

  • friendly reader

    I’ve looked at mine. To fill out an online astrology form with my exact time of birth as part of an experiment.

    …I have odd hobbies.

    But yeah, as someone with a grandfather who didn’t even have a birth certificate because he wasn’t born in a hospital, the birther nonsense has gone on about four years too long.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Hell, as late as the 1980s some people in Quebec still had… wait for it…

    baptismal certificates

    as proof of birth because the government used to not always issue them, since the province is heavily Roman Catholic, so priests would often have the recordkeeping duty of issuing these certificates which were accepted as equivalent to birth certificates.

    The birthers’ wee heads would explode at the idea that a birth certificate might legitimately not exist.

  • Tricksterson

    It should be kept in mind that while the Pilgrims and Puritans wanted religious freedom for themselves that Catholics, Quakers and others who wanted to pursue their own paths of religion found themselves being fined, pilloried, whipped and/or exiled from the colony

  • Tricksterson

    I think the reason for CHarles Coulson lying is even simpler than Fred posits.  He lies because it never occurs to him not to.

  • P J Evans

    I think that it was a baptismal certificate that I used when I registered to vote – but that was decades ago, before the conservatives got their hair on fire about voter fraud. They really need to be asked how you prove that your documentation is really yours, and not that of someone else.

  • Lori

    I’ve looked at mine. To fill out an online astrology form with my exact time of birth as part of an experiment. 

    Mine doesn’t even include the exact time of birth or the place. The information that would be most useful in tracking down my birth parents has been redacted by law. My point being that it’s obvious from just a casual glance that my birth certificate is unusual and yet not a single person has ever asked me about it or questioned whether to not it’s legit. It came from the state, it has the state seal on it and that’s good enough. Because I’m white and not running for office as a Democrat.  

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I somehow found my birth certificate when I was a little kid, and drew flowers in crayon all over it. I don’t remember anything about what it looks like except those flowers.

    I don’t even know where it is now. I’m white and straight, but I’m also not Christian, so I wonder if I count as a Real American(TM).

  • MaryKaye

    It really bugged me when I was seven that they issued me a new birth certificate with a blatant, outright lie about my parentage and birth name.  I mean, I was seven, it’s not like the adoption was a secret! 

    Now I have a certificate saying that I gave birth to my son on such-and-such a date, and that too is a blatant lie, and it still bugs me.  But at least we didn’t falsify his birth name.  When we adopted him he gave us a ten-point list of Things He Insisted On, and his name was #1, so we fought the social workers over it and won.  Thus we are a three-person family with four family names between us.  So far this has caused surprisingly little trouble.  I keep waiting for someone to challenge my Japanese-American husband to prove he’s related to this European-American kid with a different last name, but it hasn’t happened yet in four years.  Then again, Seattle has an incredible density of adoptees.

  • Lori

     

    It really bugged me when I was seven that they issued me a new birth
    certificate with a blatant, outright lie about my parentage and birth
    name.  I mean, I was seven, it’s not like the adoption was a secret!  

    I was given up at birth & adopted before I was 6 months old, so it never really bugged me on a visceral level. It is odd though to hold a legal document issued by the state which at least implies something that isn’t true. (Strictly speaking mine doesn’t say that my mom gave birth to me. It says that I was born on such & such a date and my parents are X & Y, all of which is true.)

  • Anonymous

    My birth certificate says “Certification of Birth”, but it isn’t original. It says on the back “The information appearing on the certified copy of birth is exactly transcribed from information contained on the original birth certificate as filed with the Office of Vital Statistics.” That was good enough for voter registration and to get a passport. However, it says on the front “It is illegal to duplicate this copy by photostat of photograph”. So I guess I could get busted if I posted it on the internet.

  • Tricksterson

    It’s a forgery!  Admit it!  You’re from Burkina Faso!  CONFESS!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    It should be kept in mind that while the Pilgrims and Puritans wanted
    religious freedom for themselves that Catholics, Quakers and others who
    wanted to pursue their own paths of religion found themselves being
    fined, pilloried, whipped and/or exiled from the colony

    Or in cases like Mary Dyer, hanged. Though that seems to be the kind of “Freedom of Religion” Coulson and company want…

  • Rissa

    Thank you for sharing that. I’m in the beginning stages of adopting an older child, and this is something I plan to fight for, too.

    Obviously I intend to consult with her regarding what she prefers, but for now my plan is to keep her given name as intact as possible. It’s pretty much the only part of her life she’ll be bringing with her; she may choose to give it up if she likes, but I don’t want to take it away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donovan-Moore/715651471 Donovan Moore

     A fundamentalist Christian that lies?  omg.

  • Tonio

    Yes. To the Pilgrims and Puritans, religious freedom was the freedom to set up a society based on their religion. While their beliefs amounted to freedom only for themselves and not for others, it’s doubtful that they thought of the issue that way. These were people who equated individualized religious beliefs with sedition.

  • Ursula L

      My birth certificate says “Certification of Birth”, but it isn’t original. It says on the back “The information appearing on the certified copy of birth is exactly transcribed from information contained on the original birth certificate as filed with the Office of Vital Statistics.” That was good enough for voter registration and to get a passport. However, it says on the front “It is illegal to duplicate this copy by photostat of photograph”. So I guess I could get busted if I posted it on the internet.  

    Which is interesting, because photostat and photograph are very specific imaging techniques.  Photostat is completely obsolete – they haven’t made the machines since the 1960s, when xerography came to be the dominant way to copy documents.  And traditional photography is fading fast, as people switch to digital imaging. 

    The way your certificate is written, it sounds as if the policy at the time it was made required a human being to locate the original document in the files, and transcribe the information on to an official certified copy form. Probably using a typewriter, perhaps by hand.

    And I’m fairly sure that this is no longer the case.  Records are stored on computers (as well as on paper) and in most places, you can get an official copy that is a printout made on official paper, rather than manually transcribed. Even if some places haven’t completely computerized the system, I expect that they now use copiers to make official copies on specialized paper that indicates that the copy is official, rather than relying on manual transcription, which is slow, expensive, and possibly inaccurate. 

  • Tricksterson

    Which, to be fair, pretty much everyone at the time did.

  • Parasum

    The Pilgrims, as Puritans & so as Calvinists, wanted freedom to worship God in the right way – which was the way the Bible, as mediated by their theological tradition, told them they should worship. Worshipping God in the right way is a sub-set of worshipping God as Scripture says He should be worshipped – it is  a major concern of Calvinism even today, & always has been. Conversely, this meant no freedom for Papists (who were enemies of True Christianity, AKA Calvinism) or for atheists (ditto) or, later on, for Quakers.

    The wrong religious beliefs could easily count as sedition, because religious & political unity tended to go together in European society, and thus, in their colonies.

    This is very different from religious freedom of the sort guaranteed in the USA.


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