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Charles Manson: A Study of Evil

Anna is a pastor, writer, and theologian who obtained her BA in religion in '06, Diploma of Ministry in '16, and Diploma of Divinity in '17.

The Obituary

Sunday, 19 November, 2017, Charles Milles Manson died of natural causes. He was 83. He did not live a full life, spending the majority of it in prison for a multitude of crimes, nevertheless he lived a long one. He and his followers certainly lived much longer than his victims. The youngest of whom hadn’t even been born yet, as Sharon Tate was only eight months pregnant at the time of her murder. Eyewitness testimony explained how she pleaded for the life of her baby, to no avail. I imagine that up until that August night in 1969, she had many plans for her unborn child. Plans that would never come to fruition due to the actions of a few drug -addled drifters.


The Manson Family

Charles Manson, like most cult leaders, had charisma. He was able to use that magnetism to draw young, impressionable drifters into his lair. He spouted a strange philosophy drawn from the book of Revelations, Adolph Hitler, Scientology, other cults, and typical for the era, hippie anti-authoritarianism. With his rhetoric, he was able to gather over a hundred souls (which he kept readily supplied with hard drugs) into his ‘family,’ and drag a little more than a dozen of his more devoted followers, young impressionable women, into his inner circle. He was able to convince them that he was Jesus and that there would be a race war that would usher him into power. None of this was seen as too extraordinary in those turbulent times, he was simply another part of the counterculture. Tragically, he was a dark and disturbed part of the counterculture. So strong was his hold on his followers that they brutally butchered nine people at his behest. He had such a command of his devotees that he wasn’t even present at the Tate murders. Even after they were all in prison and out of direct contact with each other, Manson maintained his hold over the girls.

Manson’ motive for the murders was to spark a race war. He believed that the Black Panthers would be blamed for the crimes and in the ensuing chaos that would inevitably consume America, (he believed that nuclear weapons would be used) he could simply take over as leader. Manson believed that African Americans would win the war, but would need him to rule over the country. The victims of the Tate/La Bianca murders were only pawns in his game. He had never met them nor had any other connection to them. The house that Sharon Tate lived in represented the music world. The same world that had previously rejected Manson. To him the house was a symbol of everything he hated. He had no regard for the life inside the house, and saw the victims as disposable. Only an evil and twisted mind can produce such madness.

And indeed, Manson was quite twisted. He often claimed his mother was a 16 year old alcoholic prostitute who tried to sell him for a pitcher of beer. His sister, and cousin both have publicly claimed that was a lie, as are other twisted tales of his childhood. Born in 1934, his mother was imprisoned for robbery while he was just a child and he was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in West Virginia. Manson displayed violent tendencies from a very young age. At six, he would convince his classmates, young girls, to attack the other kids that he didn’t like. He was rarely disciplined for this, as his teachers couldn’t believe a six year old could be a criminal mastermind. He spent most of his early life in trouble, and at the time of the murders, he’d already spent more than half his life in prison, and he was only 32.

It was in prison that Manson learned how to manipulate people after taking a course by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Instead of using those lessons to become a good salesman or businessman, he used them for evil. He became a dangerous manipulator and used the information learned in prison against the naïve young girls in his cult. Prior to the murders, the parole board had deemed him dangerous and recommended that he be under supervision. Tragically that never happened. Police were not keeping an eye on him. Were it not for an arrest of one of the members on suspicion of car theft, he would have gotten away with the Tate/La Bianca murders.


The life and crimes of Charles Manson has been a case study on evil. Many have claimed he was paranoid, schizophrenic, sociopathic, or just plain evil. He knew how to manipulate people to do his will. He planned gory murders with diabolical and megalomaniacal intentions of furthering his own glory. He was willing to risk the lives of tens of millions of people in a race war of his own making so that he could rule the United States. Throughout the trial, neither Manson, nor his minions, would show any signs of remorse. While in prison he continued to exert his influence, and even contrived a plot to assassinate president Gerald Ford. He remained a psychotic, remorseless, murderer. And yesterday he died. Never once expressing regret for the murders he committed or the ones he helped to orchestrate.

Sadly, we live in a fallen world. Such evil is astonishing, tragic, horrifying, and distressing, but is a regrettable side effect of The Fall. It is debated whether Manson was born evil, or whether his was made that way from an early life of torment. I don’t know if we will ever know the answer to that question. Surely, other people who don’t become murderers have had it worse than he. Regardless of the cause, over half a dozen innocent people died from the effect. Make no mistake, such calamitous violence is not of the Lord. He created beauty. We marred it with evil. As children of God, it is up to us to work to undo the evil in this world. To create beauty where there is repulsion, to shed light into darkness, to bring the aesthetic into the distasteful. As long as we have the breathe of life and the Spirit of God, we can spread the seeds of love where evil is sown.

It is too late for Charles Manson. He never expressed regret or repentance while he had the chance. I know that Jesus weeps. Before he was stitched together in the womb, the Psalms tells us that God still knew and loved Charles Milles Manson. He had great plans for him, but Manson rejected the truth of God's love and chose for himself the path of wickedness. I will not rejoice in his death; lost souls are never an occasion to celebrate. I hope that the families of his victims can find peace, and I’m glad that he no longer has control over impressionable young men and women. Evil has been reclaimed by evil, but while there’s still Christians, we can fight the evil that remains on this earth. Every soul deserves a chance at Salvation, and it is our duty, honor, and joy, to reclaim all the souls we can for the glory of God.

God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

— Romans 5:2-5

© 2017 Anna Watson


G.Cole on November 21, 2017:

Im not sure how referring to a person as "wicked" "evil" or "twisted" is glorifying them, Charlie.

charlie from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans on November 20, 2017:

why would you even consider an article in this evil son of satan's name here?

how foolish to glorify such evil in this place where god is to be glorified. shame on you.

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