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Tennessee sheriff stands up for his convictions

BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When Raymond Russell ran for the position of sheriff of Haywood County, Tenn., he ran on his Christian beliefs.

Fourteen years later Russell still holds true to those Christian principles.

“In 14 years I have never been offered a bribe. I think that’s because people know my Christian beliefs,” affirmed Russell, a life-long resident of Haywood County, Tenn.

“If I was ever offered a bribe, the person would be arrested on the spot,” the Haywood County sheriff said. “I enjoy knowing I can go home every night with a clear conscience and go to sleep.”

Russell accepted Christ at the age of 12 and has been an active member of Antioch Baptist Church ever since. He currently serves as Sunday school superintendent, assistant music director, and a member of the nominating and budget committees.

Russell admits the job he holds leads itself to temptations. “Every day I ask the Lord to guide my life and keep the temptations away,” the sheriff said.

Russell’s jurisdiction covers about 500 square miles. He oversees the work of 15 deputies and 35 total employees.

Earlier this summer Russell took a stand on a controversial issue even though he knows it could hurt him politically in the future.

He became involved in an effort to keep packaged beer out of the city of Brownsville. While there is beer sold in the county it has been kept out of the city. He noted proponents said selling beer in the city would increase revenue.

“There comes a time when you have to stop putting a dollar figure on everything,” Russell maintained.

“We need to take a stand for what is right,” he affirmed.

“Politically, it might not have been a good stand for me,” Russell continued, noting he comes up for re-election in 2001.

“As a Christian it was a stand I had to take.”

Russell went to the city council meeting the night they were voting to put it on a referendum. He spoke against beer sales in the city. The council later defeated the proposal in a close vote.

In a similar matter last year, Russell and others stood up against adult video stores and were able to keep them out of the city.

In addition to his church roles, Russell also serves on the moral and ethics committee of Haywood Baptist Association.

“Jesus had no reservations about going to the cross for me,” Russell affirmed.

“I have no reservations about speaking out on what is morally wrong and would affect the people of this community.”

Russell admitted one of the hardest parts of his job is seeing “good people who go through suffering and pain” while “others who never do anything good for anybody” seem to live a care-free life.

Part of his rationale for running for the sheriff’s office 14 years ago was his desire to help people.

“I enjoy helping people, not a person who has violated the law, but a person who walks into this office with a problem,” Russell said.

“I’ve had the opportunity to witness to a lot of people. That’s been a blessing to be able to do that.”

    About the Author

  • Lonnie Wilkey

    Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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