One advantage of having a Washington office is that it gives us access to our nation’s policymakers and legislators. But as we discovered when we assigned Washington editor Kim Lawton to track the church’s role in the nation’s drug war, it also puts us close to the action.

Kim recently got a close look at the drug war’s casualties when the brother of one of her church’s youngsters was gunned down within blocks of the church. And the walk from the Metro station to CT’s office in the National Press Building puts her close to where the bag of crack was bought that President Bush used as a prop in a televised speech.

To get this month’s cover story, Kim visited notorious “drug corners” in Miami, the Bronx, and, of course, her own beat—the city that gave us Marion Barry. Fortunately, Kim doesn’t scare easily, nor does the photographer who shot our cover. While Bishop Felton May was posing against the backdrop of the Shaw Memorial Methodist Church, the sound of gunfire erupted. The bishop reassured our cameraman that the action was at least two blocks away. The shooting—both photographic and ballistic—continued.

Kim found plenty of evidence to convict many churches of taking deliberate and measured aim at our nation’s drug problem. It is not the stuff that usually makes headlines, but it is reassuring to know there are pastors and church members on the front lines of this war, and that these quiet warriors win back a few who were once held hostage by their high-priced habits.

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