Why Is an Extremist Pastor Hosting a School Board Candidate Forum at His Church? July 6, 2021

Why Is an Extremist Pastor Hosting a School Board Candidate Forum at His Church?

Just days after the attempted insurrection at the Capitol, Pastor Darryl Knappen of Minnesota’s Cornerstone Church released a video in which he declared that Donald Trump needed to “enact martial law and the Insurrection Act, perhaps both in the next few days,” claimed there was election fraud that “leads all the way back to Barack Obama using agents in Italy and other nations as well,” predicted Mike Pence would be arrested for treason, and said he was considering wearing his “black robe today and open it up and show my AR-15 underneath it.”

The whole insane video was a mix of Christian Nationalism and right-wing extremism that led dozens of other local pastors to denounce his rhetoric in an open letter. The video was taken down by the church (though I saved the copy you’re seeing above).

Why bring him up now?

Because the Alexandria School District 206 Board of Education has a special election coming up (to replace a board member who stepped down), and a candidate forum featuring the three people on the ballot will be held later tonight… and look who’s running the show:

There will be three candidates — Jeff Patience, Maureen Eigen, and Jeremy Smith vying for a special one-year term for the Alexandria School Board. All three have agreed to participate in a public forum on Tuesday, July 6th at Cornerstone Church in Alexandria. The candidates will each answer eight questions (two from each candidate and two from moderator Pastor Darryl Knappen.

Why is a right-wing extremist hosting a candidate forum for a public school district?

Why are his recent statements completely absent from the local newspaper’s article?

Why are these candidates participating in a forum hosting by a Christian extremist?!

Why is a church (at all!) hosting a forum for school board candidates? Were no neutral sites available?

I sent some of these questions to the school board last night, but as of this writing, I have not received a response. It’s profoundly troubling that the school board candidates would willingly go along with this plan, though.

Knappen can vote for his preferred candidate. He can encourage his congregation to vote without telling them who to vote for — though he’s violated the Johnson Amendment before. What he shouldn’t be doing is hosting a forum for candidates with their willing participation.

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