Chuck Colson hoaxed, or hoaxing; you should act

February 3, 2007

Chuck Colson claims to have found God, while in prison, and changed his ways. He’s got a newspaper column and radio feature called “Breakpoint” which generally covers issues at least tangentially related to ministry and church work.

But he’s either fallen victim to a great hoax, or he’s in on it and spread it.

Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars alerted us to Colson’s “Breakpoint” commentary dated February 2, in which Colson repeats the disproven claims that Judge John E. Jones of the Middle District of Pennsylvania “plagiarized” significant portions of his decision. The charges are completely out of line, and have not held up under scrutiny. The claims were invented by people at the Discovery Institute who have no knowledge of how federal civil trials work, who misinterpreted trial procedures, and who made an invalid count of the words in the decision (failing to account for most of the 129 pages of the work for reasons that have never been explained).

If this catches you unaware of the issue, you can catch up with several posts. Attorney and Panda’s Thumb contributor Tim Sandefur explains how the charges are false here. Sandefur’s earlier explanation of the statistical errors behind the false claims is here (also at Panda’s Thumb).

You should act. If your local newspaper carries Colson’s column, notify them of the hoax. Give them the links above, and urge them to contact the press people at the National Center for Science Education for comment. Tell them they can quote Panda’s thumb, and that they can contact Sandefur, Brayton, or me, for comment.

Similarly, if your local radio station carries Colson’s commentaries, notify the station. Stations need to check to be sure they are not broadcasting hoaxes for license renewal reasons (though the FCC polices this issue rarely, and not often well).

Were Colson a practicing attorney, of course, he’d probably remember how federal trial procedures work, and not make such errors.

You can help him recall.

%d bloggers like this: