Minnesota church removes controversial video of pastor urging martial law

A video of the Rev. Darryl Knappen endorsing political candidates remains on the church's Facebook page

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Pastor Darryl Knappen stands in an area where church members typically gather to pray for each other by laying hands on one another at Cornerstone Church in Alexandria. Knappen listed out places in the Bible where this practice is discussed, but he said social distancing regulations have restricted the First Amendment right of religious freedom. “Laying on of hands has been something the church has done for 2,000 years,” Knappen said. “It’s an affirmation. It’s an encouragement. It’s connection.” (Jasmine Johnson / Echo Press)

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — A controversial video posted online of a Minnesota pastor urging martial law, calling for citizen militias and talking about his AR-15 has been taken down by his church.

Cornerstone Church of Alexandria, Minn., removed the video of its pastor, Darryl Knappen, from its website and Facebook page.

The video, posted Jan. 9, had received about 100,000 views and drawn both support and condemnation. The Minnesota Constitution prohibits private militias and state law prohibits people from associating together "as a military company with arms" unless they're part of the National Guard, the U.S. military, or with the consent of the governor.

Without mentioning Knappen or the video, a group of 33 Alexandria area pastors put out a public statement on Monday , Jan. 18, calling for peace and unity, and decrying violence and threats of violence.

An October video remains on Cornerstone's Facebook page of Knappen using a Sunday sermon to endorse Republican candidates for public office, despite the federal Johnson Amendment, which prevents churches and other nonprofit organizations from endorsing specific candidates.


“I’m violating the 501(c)(3) and I don’t care," Knappen said in sermon. "There are hundreds of churches just like us all around the country. If you want to send my sermon in to the IRS, I invite you to do that, you’re welcome to. Let’s see if they come after us. Good luck. We’ll take you to court. You’ll lose.”

Knappen could not be reached for comment.

Reporter Karen Tolkkinen grew up in Plymouth, Minnesota, graduated from the University of Minnesota with a journalism degree in 1994, and was driven by curiosity to work her way around the United States.
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