WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 16, 2010, 08:37 AM

Wheaton community reacts to jailed pastor

Wheaton, Minn. (WDAY TV) - For the last part of our series on the jailed Wheaton pastor, community members speak out about the man in prison for enforcing what he calls "God's law." Here is a look at racial accusations, anger, and the man who knows the criminal well after living in Wheaton for 14 years. KSAX Reporter Anthony Kiekow has our story.

By: Anthony Kiekow, KSAX

BARNES: "I'm guilty of loving Wheaton."

Early this year, Danny Barnes' reign as head of Thy Kingdom Come Church in Wheaton ended. Looking back Barnes says his saga in the town reminds him of something straight out of the Bible.

BARNES: "When they asked “who do we crucify,” the crowd screamed, 'Jesus!' And Jesus never did anything to anybody but heal them, and help them, and minister to them. I never did anything to anybody in that town."

But Denny Clough tells us different.

COUGH: "There were several things that could have got him locked up for a long time that took place years ago."

Now that Barnes is locked up on assault charges he says the community is celebrating.

BARNES: "What has happened is there saying, 'Yeah, the *****'s gone, he's out of here. We don't have to hear him facing us anymore. We don't have to listen to his mouth."

However, Clough says racial slurs haven't been used.

CLOUGH: "I don't believe that those words were used exactly in that context. I don't believe that the word **** wasn’t used."

But Barnes tells us people in the community even burned the cross that stood in front of his church. We spoke with the Wheaton Police Department and it says there've been no reports of a cross burning. We also spoke with the owner of the building. He says the cross was taken down by people in the community, but he doesn't know what happened to it after that. However, former Thy Kingdom Come Church member Sherry Hankins tells us she does.

HANKINS: "They did burn the church sign right in front of the church."

Wherry says that's just one of the racially charged incidents she knows about.

HANKINS: "People circling the church with confederate flags or KKK being spray painted on a truck people yelling you know, 'Why don't you dance, why don't you dance *****, why don't you dance?!"

Despite clashing with the community, Barnes says when he's released from prison in 2017 he knows exactly where he's going to go.

BARNES: "It's almost necessary for me to go back to Wheaton."

The Traverse County attorney and Wheaton Police declined to go on camera.