Questions & Answers
Q: How was Charles Manson able to convince people to do things that were against their natural grain and which many seem now to deeply regret?
In the 60's, many people who met Manson came away saying he had charisma or a special ability to lead. There was a quality about him that was attractive and irresistible. He had the ability to charm and fascinate people with his glamour and magnetism, even witchery. This was not, however, a godly charisma. It was witchcraft. He sent his girls off to murder, saying, "Write something witchy on the walls!" There was an evil presence.
Charlie's outward appearance was very deceptive. He'd charm you, so he could later implant his evil philosophy in your heart. I believe he had deceived himself over the years with vain philosophies, causing his conscience to become deeply flawed. He used an elevated logic to manipulate those of us who were young, gullible and naive. His judgment and condemnation of us and our parents, created a sense of lack. He exalted himself, desiring our worship. As a result, we looked to him, believing he had the answers to life. We admired him and wanted to be like him. Since he had revealed our sense of lack, he seemed to have what was missing in our lives.
In reality, Manson was objectively a very evil person. His heart was filled with resentment and anger towards society. He deeply blamed others for all his failures. After he had charmed us, he preached his philosophy of revenge. This is a similar indoctrination that we see working today in the lives of terrorists, their children and followers.
Q: How do you not blame him for ruining your life?
Manson was a little man with a smile on his face to manipulate. His purpose was to deceive in order to use me to steal, kill and destroy. I don't blame him, because he couldn't have used me without my consent and cooperation. I made stupid choices, not considering the consequences.
In reality, he was a coward, using my power as a man. He was only a factor because I yielded my power and authority to say "NO" to him! Thank God I know the truth today, and the truth has freed me from this weakness. The truth is, you don't have to let people use you. Take your authority by saying "NO"! Stand up for yourself; don't be a wimp; turn and flee! This is good news if you're struggling with your personal responsibility.
Q: What about struggling with personal responsibility?
For me, responsibility is appropriating the ability to respond to life's challenges. I was taught it by my parents and other adults, but I found life to be an obstacle course. I ran out of strength and power to make the right choices to successfully finish the race. I failed miserably, becoming irresponsible.
In the classic book, Pilgrim's Progress, Christian had many fears, temptations, people, places and things to take him off course, but through making the right choices, he made it to the Celestial City. Unlike Christian, I got terribly off track as a prodigal son, but in 1975, I turned back to my parents' roots in Christ.
After hearing the message of God's love and grace from an Evangelist, I was born again, filled with the ability to respond to life's struggles through the Holy Spirit. Since that day, I overcome obstacles, "Not by might nor by power, but by the Spirit, says the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6).
Q: So you are saying it is our responsibility to take hold of what God has provided for us, right?
That’s right! God has already done His part. He has not only provided for our salvation and deliverance, but for our healing and prosperity. These blessings were available to me in the 60s, but I was blinded by unbelief, which prevented God from doing what he wanted to do in my life. My heart was hardened to God's will for my life.
I was overcome by pride lust, fear, anger, and laziness. I medicated the pain these root problems caused with alcohol, sex and drugs to boost my self-esteem. That mixed with peer pressure, the need for acceptance, and delusional beliefs triggered a deadly combination. I can’t undo what’s done, but I can share these truths to help others.
Q: Were there character defects from your childhood that made you susceptible to Manson's deception?
It could be that my emotions didn't develop in a positive way. I do recall fear gripping my soul when I was around ten years old due to academic pressure. At the same time, I lacked a drive for schoolwork, though I was saving for college from birth. In hindsight, I would have done better pursuing a trade.
My parents came through the Great Depression. They married in '32 desiring their children to have a better life. Being churchgoers, they took me from birth, but I never experienced God's unconditional love for overcoming my fears. Instead, I was left striving for perfection, and believing that my identity was based upon my performance. Because I repressed my feelings of failure and humiliation, I grew up with pent-up anger trying to please my parents and teachers. I resented my family for mapping out my life.
I knew I had a problem, but I didn't share it with anyone. In college, I gave priority to everything but my studies,while medicating my emotional pain with alcohol and sex. I rationalized moving to California to escape my fears, where I felt I could get marijuana and find freedom from my problems. Unknowingly, my resentments were brewing below the surface, making me ripe for deception. In the 60s, I was looking for answers from all the wrong people, places and things, riding the wave with many other lost souls.
Q: What else caused this from your childhood?
Well, I don't blame my parents. I made terrible choices and decisions. I wasn't a strong-willed child, but I never surrendered to God's love, which would have empowered me to overcome my fears. Instead, I repressed my feelings in fear of humiliation and failure. I grew up lying to myself and by the time of the crime, resenting those who loved me.
Like I said earlier, my parents desired more for their children than they had for themselves. I didn't handle the stress I felt to succeed, so fear gripped my soul. I medicated my anxiety by eating candy bars from my dad's store. Slowly, I became a lazy student and somewhat disobedient child, with a mouth full of cavities.
Q: What further insights can you give to help us understand how a leader like Manson could deceive someone to do something so contrary to how they were raised?
I have come to see that it was not so much who Manson was, but my deep lack of identity, causing insecurity. I took on Manson's deceptive beliefs, which propelled me to do his will being fueled by my hurts, frustration, bitterness, anger, confusion, addictions, paranoia and compulsive behavior. I lacked a sound belief system of my own. The difference between right and wrong became very shaded after months of programming. But, I would have never murdered anyone without believing his lies.
The dynamics of a group mentality was a catalyst, since we gave validity to each other's warped beliefs. There was competition within the cult to gain Manson's acceptance. Our individual lack of identity made us ripe for his deceptive philosophy. During the '60s, there seemed to be a void of sound beliefs in the lives of many teenagers and young adults. Many have said to me, "It could have been me!" Our false beliefs were objective in nature, only desiring to fulfill our carnal cravings for sex and physical satisfaction medicating our pain. Our hearts longed for what looked and felt good. Thinking we were right and in control produced a growing rebellion.
Unknowingly, we were slowly giving ourselves over to evil and losing control to the murderous philosophy of Manson. We believed Manson was right, and some of us were willing to die for him. Our conscience failed to work properly because of the drugs we were ingesting. They created a false sense of bliss. At the same time, our flawed conscience freed us to murder and carry out Manson's evil delusions. The rest is history!
Q: What beliefs do we need to develop so a person like Manson cannot manipulate us to carry out their destructive beliefs?
We must believe in God as our Heavenly Father, who created us. This must be taught by our parents and in our schools to give our children a sense of worth, value and dignity. As a result, a godly-fatherly instinct will come forth instead of an animalistic one. Many scientists understand that evolution is an evil lie. When we realize we were created in the image of God, instead of evolved from monkeys, we take on a different worldview, concerning ourselves, mankind and our relationship with God as our Father. For this to happen, the Word of God must be sown in our hearts.
I believe there is a spiritual void within every person. A relationship with the Creator of the universe gives a proper identity and only then do we begin to see others as we should. As we place value on our own lives and relationship with God, we begin to place value on the lives of others. In other words, as we come to know who we are in God's family, we come to know those in his family. As a result, we won't believe we need a cult-like the Manson cult, but instead see ourselves in need of a loving Heavenly Father. When He fills our need for love and acceptance, our dependence on others wanes.
For me, this relationship with God is established with the person of Jesus Christ, Who made it possible for all of us to relate to God on a personal level. He has satisfied my father-hunger. We arrived in this world lacking spiritual understanding because of the fall of man. We try to live in our own ability. Many of us get lost. Even if we succeed with all that life has to offer, but don't come to personally know God, we have failed. Jesus Christ is that person, Who came to Earth to lift us out of our flawed logic. He does this by having taken our penalty on the cross. He died and rose again from the grave to give us new life. He freely gives us His ability by placing us in right standing with God, fully forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit. This righteous relationship with a living God is what empowers us to live victoriously, free from guilt and shame, overcoming by a divine identity. As a result, we know the truth and are no longer vulnerable to a flawed philosophy, such as Manson's.
Q: Was Manson a racist or a white supremacist?
You decide! Through his delusional beliefs, he was trying to start a black and white race war, but not to destroys the blacks. By the girls writing racist words on the walls at the crime scenes in blood, he thought the blacks would be blamed for the crimes. Then, the blacks would rise up and destroy the whites. Afterwards, the blacks would seek him out in the desert for answers on how to run society. He definitely wanted supremacy, but he believed the blacks would take over society.
Q: How did you learn of Manson's death?
Like many of you, I'd been hearing of his illness for months in the news, so it didn't come as a surprise. Also, I'd heard from a couple of inmates who had been with him in the Protective Housing Unit, that he has in bad health. Others would ask if I'd heard of his illness and pending death. I'd respond with an affirmative, since I'm tuned into AM radio from Los Angeles and other news programs.
Q: What was your initial reaction?
Over the years like most Christians, I'd held out hope that he would respond to Christ, but it seems there was way too much pride in his heart. Many of us hoped he would experience a death-bed conversion, but there is no indication of that, only God knows. I felt pity for a man so deceived by his own persona, but it seems most are rejoicing that he's now in hell's flames.
Q: How do you feel about his passing?
In my heart, I deeply regret ever meeting up with him, and my choice to be a follower. It seems with his absence that the spotlight will shine brightly on those of us who are left to bear the responsibility for the deaths and pain of so many.
Q: What do you think of the legalization of marijuana?
I'm against making pot more available, because it will no doubt increase the death spiral of society. It creates a mental dullness or slowness, and limits intellectual or emotional development and affects a person's desire and vitality or drive to achieve. It produces the exact opposite of everything that Jesus died and rose again to freely give us -- abundant life.
Q: Some drug rituals seem like imitations of the Christian experience. What do you think?
Yeah, it seems we worshiped drugs in the 60s. It was what we lived for daily. It was a ritual to get in darkness with the music and the preparation to get high, the shared relationships and the resulting spiritual effects of oneness. Though I did it ignorantly, it's called sorcery. I didn't realize I was subjecting myself to evil powers.
Q: Do you think everyone can find redemption?
I think everyone can, but will they? The Lord is "...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). The Spirit and the bride say, "...whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17c). Christ died for all mankind, but mankind must respond through faith in God's grace. If I can be forgiven, anyone can.
Q: Are you ever tempted to get high? When was the last time you got high?
I've never been tempted to get high since receiving Christ in 1975. I returned to my cell that night ten times higher on Jesus (Dan. 1:20). The last time I got high was in the 60s.
Q: How many times did you take LSD?
Tens of times; we were guinea pigs in those days experimenting with drugs from many of the early LSD chemists.
Q: How long did it take you to come down?
Not long, but for years the consequences of the crimes and the pain I've caused so many lingers, only to find freedom daily in the love and grace of God through Christ.
Q: What advice do you have for teens reading this?
Simply, we reap every little thing we sow, whether good or bad seeds. Sow God's Word in your heart, then find ways to sow good things into the lives of those around you today, and you'll reap a wonderful life of peace and joy with those who love you! "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap" (Gal. 6:7).
Q: What Scripture would you like to share?
"For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning... You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!" (Psalm 30:5,11,12).
My deepest prayer is that these words could become true for all those who have suffered so much because of me. I pray it each day. I pray it now.
If you have a question, contact Charles.
See also Questions & Answers II.
(For 208 more Q&A, see Charles Watson Speaks Out!)