Letters to the Editor


August 25, 2022

To the editor:

Recently, the Walla Walla Union Bulletin published an article on Columbia County Undersheriff Robbie Patterson, and how he preaches sermons while wearing his sheriff-department uniform.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote to the sheriff’s office concerning this matter, claiming that this behavior is inappropriate, because such action violates the separation of church and state.

“There are a startling number of instances where Undersheriff Patterson has published videos of himself, to both YouTube and Facebook, wearing an official sheriff’s uniform while espousing claims that explicitly promote and favor Christianity,” the letter says.

According to the article, neither our public prosecutor, Dale Slack, nor present sheriff, Joe Helm, have issue with Mr. Patterson’s behavior. More disappointingly but not surprisingly, on various Facebook posts, a number of church-minded people not only see no problem with a public servant preaching a specific religious message, they also consider the very letter a form of persecution against Mr. Patterson.

Mr. Patterson is not a martyr, nor is he being attacked for his religious beliefs. What is at issue is whether or not it is appropriate for Mr. Patterson to preach a narrowly specific dogma while he is wearing company uniform, whether or not he is on duty. (According to Sheriff Helm, he was not.)

But if it is true that Mr. Patterson was off duty in the various instances in which he preached in county sheriff uniform, this begs the question, are deputies under Mr. Helm permitted to wear their work uniform when they are not on duty? On duty or off, the wearing of the uniform implies that whatever message is publicly preached is done with the blessing and approval of the sheriff’s department.

What if Mr. Patterson’s message were different? What if Mr. Patterson were preaching tenets of Islam, or Confucianism, or transgender pride, or atheism? Is this permissible under Mr. Helm’s aegis? The aforementioned are all belief systems as well; at what point do we say, “Mr. Patterson, while wearing the sheriff’s uniform and thereby representing the sheriff’s department, may preach about this belief system, but not that one?” Perhaps Mr. Helm can elucidate.

If Mr. Patterson is truly concerned about imparting the message of Christ to others while he is on duty and thereby properly wearing the sheriff’s uniform, then the best course of action would be to emulate the one he claims is his master: treat others–all others–as you would wish to be treated yourself. Be compassionate–not just to important or “good” people, but to those upon whom you serve warrants (as John the Baptist might have suggested, don’t do this on major holidays, or just when they’ve started a new job and are trying to turn their life around). Be kind. Be a servant of all. Remember that the leaders of the Gentiles lord over one another, but that is not the way that those who follow Christ are to live. Don’t seek to be first.

If Mr. Patterson is indeed doing these things, then the message of Christ will come through far more powerfully than any words can do.

Carolyn Henderson

Dayton, Wash.

To the editor,

After reading Vicki Zoeller’s letter in last week’s Chronicle (Aug 18, 2022) in which she endorsed Jack Miller for County Commissioner District 3 because Democrats and Republicans have asked him to run for office, it occurred to me that such encouragement and support tells the prospective voter nothing about how that candidate will actually govern. Joe Biden received support and endorsements from various factions of the political spectrum as did his predecessor, but they governed and govern very differently.

Receiving bilateral, even multilateral support for office may simply mean the candidate knows what promises to make to the various special interest groups in each party. Or, it could mean those supporters see the candidate as one who is easily influenced/manipulated to push an agenda.

More and more we see leaders who embrace an authoritarian, top-down form of governance. Some advocate a form of democratic rule in which the simple majority gets to decide which can easily devolve into “mob-rule”! Others recognize, respect, and seek to protect the rights/liberties of all, even those in the minority.

I am hoping Mr. Miller will tell the voters how he will actually lead/govern. Give specific examples of policies and decisions he expects to make. Use the events of the past two-plus years and tell us what he would have done (differently). Does he endorse the use of mandates, executive orders, silencing opposing views, demanding compliance, etc.? Or, does he solicit views and humbly consider opinions on all sides of an issue?

I am hopeful that Mr. Miller, and other candidates, will hold a public forum in which members of the community may ask questions and learn more about the candidates in our upcoming election. I close with the following thought: “the bigger the government, the smaller the individual.”

Thomas W. Utt, DDS

LTC (Ret), US Army

Dayton, Wash.

To the editor,

Twisted Logic–Does it make any sense that many of our elected Congressional Representatives, Senators and those down ballot are arguing that the 2020 election was stolen?

They were on the same ballots, counted by the same election offices as the presidential candidates. So, the whole election must be unfair if we follow the logic.

Therefore, if Biden lost, how do these politicians, mostly Republicans, explain their own victories and justify their present employment?

Nancy Street

Cheney, Wash.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2022