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2003 Conversations


Joy Williams: Rooted in Grace (December 29, 2002)

Judy Rachels: Christmas gifts (December 22, 2002)

Ralph Carmichael: New music for a timeless message (December 15, 2002)

Roger and Greg Flessing: Media, ministry and society's ungodly messages (December 8, 2002)

Rick Salvato: Meeting medical and spiritual needs around the world (November 24, 2002)

Asa Hutchinson: Drug Enforcement's top officer (November 17, 2002)

Bill Bright: 'Not I, but Christ' (November 10, 2002)

Ray Berryhill: Living by faith (October 20, 2002)

Owen C. Carr: Reading through the Bible 92 times (October 13, 2002)

Curtis Harlow: Combating campus drinking (September 29, 2002)

Wes Bartel: Making Sunday count (September 22, 2002)

M. Wayne Benson: The Holy Spirit knocks (September 15, 2002)

Dr. Richard Dobbins: Understanding Suffering (September 8, 2002)

K.R. Mele: Halloween evangelism (August 25, 2002)

Roland Blount: God makes a way for blind missionary (August 18, 2002)

Cal Thomas: Finding a mission field (August 11, 2002)

Lisa Ryan: For such a time as this (July 28, 2002)

Dallas Holm: Faith and prayer in life’s toughest times (July 21, 2002)

Paul Drost: Intentional church planting (July 14, 2002)

James M. Inhofe: Serving Christ in the Senate (June 30, 2002)

Karen Kingsbury: The Write stuff (June 23, 2002)

Michael W. Smith: Worship is how you live each day (June 16, 2002)

Wayne Stayskal: On the drawing board (June 9, 2002)

Fory VandenEinde: Anyone can minister (May 26, 2002)

Thomas E. Trask: Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2002)

Stormie Omartian: Recovering from an abusive childhood (May 12, 2002)

Luis Carrera: Beyond the Shame (April 28, 2002)

Tom Greene: The church of today (April 21, 2002)

Philip Bongiorno: Wisdom for a younger generation (April 14, 2002)

Deborah M. Gill: Christian education and discipleship (March 24, 2002)

Norma Champion: Becoming involved in politics (February 24, 2002)

Steve Pike: A candid discussion about Mormonism (February 10, 2002)

Raymond Berry: More to life than football (January 27, 2002)

Sanctity of Human Life roundtable: Doctors speak out (January 20, 2002)

Chaplain Charles Marvin: Ministering in the military (January 13, 2002)


2001 Conversations

 

Drug Enforcement's top enforcer

Asa Hutchinson has served since August 2001 as director of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the federal government’s law-enforcement arm to battle illegal drugs. Hutchinson, 51, served as a lawyer in Arkansas for 21 years before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Hutchinson recently talked with News Editor John W. Kennedy about topics ranging from new types of drugs in America to his Christian faith.

PE: In what way is drug enforcement a good-versus-evil situation?

HUTCHINSON: When you look at the founding fathers or the preamble to the Constitution, one of the first principles of our government was to establish justice. It is essential for the goodness of America that we have law enforcement and we are a nation under the rule of law. That’s what separates us from anarchy and really gives the framework for democracy to work and freedom to survive.

PE: How has terrorism changed drug enforcement?

HUTCHINSON: It has given more responsibility to the DEA. Drugs are not just illegal and harmful; now we know they are a means to fund terrorism.

PE: What role do parents play in preventing drug abuse by children?

HUTCHINSON: Parents are not just the first line of defense, but really the only defense. If parents don’t exercise responsibility, we’re just plugging holes. Drug use among teenagers is diminished when parents have meals with them once a day, spend time with them, talk to them and go to church with them on Sunday.

PE: What role do Christian rehabilitation programs such as Teen Challenge play in the anti-drug effort?

HUTCHINSON: The treatment programs that involve the faith-based community are the ones with the most success, whether you’re talking about alcohol addiction or methamphetamine addiction. It’s difficult to overcome without some component of faith.

PE: Why is there an attraction to drugs such as Ecstasy?

HUTCHINSON: The draw for those who traffic in it is the huge profit. You can make an Ecstasy pill for 25 cents and sell it on the street for $25. When it is targeted to young people, young people sometimes like to live on the margins and take risks. It creates enormous health consequences and it can be deadly.

PE: In some quarters there is a growing sentiment that certain drugs, especially marijuana, should be decriminalized. Why is that not a good idea?

HUTCHINSON: Marijuana is a harmful substance. We underestimate the damage that can be done by marijuana. The level of THC, the addictive substance in marijuana, is much higher now than it was in the 1970s and therefore it’s much more dangerous. I wish those who talk about legalizing marijuana could come with me to Judge [James] Doyle’s courtroom outside Chicago [in Kane County]. He asked 15 heroin addicts how they started and they all said they started with marijuana.

PE: Does the amount of legal medication we take have anything to do with how we view illegal drugs?

HUTCHINSON: There is a connection there. Prescription drugs are subject to being abused, but they serve a legitimate purpose and we want to make sure they are available for those who are suffering. But when teenagers see prescription drugs and then they see an Ecstasy pill, somehow they think it’s not as harmful as a heroin dose. It’s a real education challenge for us. The addict population is misusing painkillers, especially OxyContin. As an opiate substitute it’s simply a new way to get the same drug.

PE: Is the term "drug war" a misnomer? Will we ever win such a battle?

HUTCHINSON: To those in the law-enforcement trenches it’s very dangerous and it’s a war in many respects. But when you think of war, it has a beginning and an end. The fact is there will always be illegal drugs from generation to generation. As long as there are depression, greed and teenagers, there will be a challenge.

PE: Is drug abuse only a teenage problem?

HUTCHINSON: I have seen many people who are addicted still struggling into their 40s and 50s. Recently I saw an accountant who was going through a difficult time and all of a sudden he became addicted to drugs at 50. Although the greatest challenge is with young people, no one is age exempt.

PE: How can Christians pray about drug enforcement?

HUTCHINSON: I would encourage people to pray for the truth. There are a lot of myths out there. Those with an agenda of legalization argue that there’s no success, when in fact there is a lot of success. They argue that marijuana is harmless, when in fact there is much danger. They argue that there are no new ideas and there are. We want the truth to be out there.

Also, people can pray for the safety of the brave men and women in law enforcement who are risking their lives every day.

And also for the sacrifice of those engaged in treatment and have such incredible ministry with young people, helping them to make right decisions.

It’s a great privilege to work with Attorney General John Ashcroft. He’s a great leader for the Justice Department and a real motivator for those engaged in fighting drugs. The faith side of things is very important.

PE: Tell me about your own Christian faith.

HUTCHINSON: I’m grateful that my parents instilled in me an appreciation for church and having a relationship with God as I was growing up. It has made a tremendous impact on my life and the values I developed. A pastor in rural Arkansas invested a great deal of energy in young people and through his ministry my faith grew and set me on a stronger path through life.

 

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