HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Freedom Behind Bars
Author: Charles W. Colson
Publisher: Prison Fellowship, 1990
Related website: http://www.prisonfellowship.org/prison-fellowship-home
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Colson, Charles W. Freedom Behind Bars (published in 1990 by Prison Fellowship Ministries, P. O. Box 17500, Washington, DC 20041). Charles Wendell “Chuck” Colson, born in 1931 and died just recently, was a former Special Counsel for President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973. Commonly named as one of the Watergate Seven and facing arrest, he was given a copy of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis by his close friend, Raytheon Company chairman of the board Thomas L. Phillips, and after reading it, Colson became an evangelical Christian in 1973. Indicted on March 1, 1974, for conspiring to cover up the Watergate burglary, Colson pled guilty to obstruction of justice for attempting to defame Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg and the following year served seven months of a one-to-three year sentence in the federal Maxwell Prison in Alabama as the first member of the Nixon administration to be incarcerated for Watergate-related charges.
After his release from prison, Colson founded Prison Fellowship in 1976, which today is considered the nation’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. Later in 1976 Colson wrote his personal memoir Born Again reflecting on his religious conversion and prison term; it was made into a 1978 dramatic film starring Dean Jones as Colson. In 1983, Colson founded Justice Fellowship, using his influence in conservative political circles to push for bipartisan, legislative reforms in the U.S. criminal justice system. Also, he was founder and chairman of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, which is a research, study, and networking center for growing in a Christian worldview, and has also done a daily radio cultural commentary, BreakPoint, heard on more than 1,400 outlets across the United States. In 1999, he co-authored with Nancy Pearcey the book How Now Shall We Live?, which was published by Tyndale House and was winner of the 2000 Gold Medallion Book Award.
Colson, who became a noted spokesman for Evangelical Christianity and, to a lesser extent, for other conservative causes, has written over thirty books. In Freedom Behind Bars, the Introduction and Prologue begin with Colson’s conversion and the rest of the book traces the growth and development of Prison Fellowship. The Epilogue argues for a culture based on Biblical Christianity rather than secularism as the true answer to the problems that our society faces. If I remember correctly, a copy of the book in a mass-market paperback edition was sent to me years ago, probably with a request for donations. One may not agree with every concept expressed by Colson, but we should be able to appreciate the good work that he’s done in helping prisoners to learn a better way of life and also his strong defense of a Biblical worldview.