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Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted to the Watchman in response to a Jan. 12 statement by 12 Anchorage pastors which condemned the Jan. 6 violence in at the U.S. Capitol building and also blamed President Trump for inciting the crimes. The pastor’s orginal statement can be read here. A follow up clarification from one of the pastors (Tim Davis) can be read here .


Dear Pastors,

I read your letter to the community. One of my pastors is on the list of signatories. Before I begin, I want to say that he and I have spoken about his reasons for signing the letter and even though we disagree about one portion of it, we still love and respect each other. I believe in free speech and his right to express his opinion in this way. Free speech is important and needs to be protected no matter the content. Without that we lose a vital part of what makes America great and that is under attack in many ways right now.

I am still quite saddened and disturbed about the portion of the letter calling out the “Commander-in-Chief’ and his responsibility in his use of words and actions. As faith leaders, you are also responsible for your words and you signed a letter with the names of your church effectively signing it for everyone associated with those places of worship. Did they agree and consent? I did not. I do not.

As I pondered the reason for my unrest and pondered the conversation I had with my pastor, I came to realize that the reason I, and others, are so upset is because the portion of the country they chose to chastise is largely disenfranchised right now. The letter is unbalanced. My pastor stated their intention was to address the one event however that leaves us readers asking, “Why THIS event?” People died. Yes, they did. Death is always tragic. People have been dying all summer.

We have watched as violent protests have raged on, and National Democratic leaders have told us that it was deserved, it was a response to pain, they shouldn’t let up, that there should be unrest in the streets. Where were you then pastors?

Yes, you spoke out against racism and that was beautiful and wonderfully done. But where were you condemning the nightly violence and the attacks on police officers just because of their occupation? Billions of dollars in damage were done in this country in the name of protest, and you sat silent. Kids were killed in the crossfire of increased violence relating to the defunding of police but that did not spur you into action. Why? I am so very sad and confused.

I have a feeling that a balanced letter of reproach would have been more well received and the message you truly hoped to share.

Anchorage has been squashed, ignored, condescended to on a local level from the Assembly. Anchorage has been placed under an iron-thumb of economic control time and time again. Medical freedom is being stripped away. The open meetings act is being manipulated. CARES Act funds are being spent in areas that hasn’t benefited the community. Businesses are closing. Where are you condemning the actions of the iron fist of the Assembly?

I propose to you that perhaps instead of choosing the events of Jan. 6, 2021, your letter could have addressed the responsibility of ALL speech happening in our nation. I propose that when you choose to call out one area of hypocrisy that you need to balance it with all hypocrisy within that subject matter. Hypocrisy does not land on one side. It does not affect one person. This incident at the Capitol building was not a product of simply one person irresponsibly using their power of speech.

Teaching and preaching the whole Bible means you call all sin sin and call out all sin, not just one you deem is the most offensive at the time. I have a feeling that a balanced letter of reproach would have been more well received and the message you truly hoped to share – repenting of sin and moving to love – would have been heard.

Please continue to use your convictions and free speech. I thank you for that. As a congregant, lover of Jesus, and a disenfranchised American I implore you to take a final look at your statements and ask if it is fairly representing the whole of the subject.

Be blessed,

Sara Jokela, Anchorage

Open letter challenges statement by 12 Anchorage pastors regarding D.C. violence and Trump’s role