- A judge ordered a Washington, DC, jail to give “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley organic food.
- Chansley says he hasn’t eaten in a week because regular food doesn’t fit his religious beliefs.
- DC’s Department of Corrections initially refused his religious accommodation request.
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A federal judge ordered a Washington, DC, jail to feed “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Chansley an organic diet after the Capitol insurrectionist complained he couldn’t eat food with GMOs.
Chansley, appearing via video in a court hearing Wednesday afternoon, told Judge Royce C. Lamberth that he has eaten only organic food in the past eight years because of his religious beliefs and that his body suffers when he eats food that is not “made by God.”
Earlier Wednesday, Chansley’s lawyer Albert Watkins asked Lamberth to grant Chansley early release from custody ahead of his criminal trial. He said the Washington, DC, Department of Corrections (DOC), which runs the jail holding Chansley, hadn’t accommodated his religious beliefs. As a result, Watkins said, Chansley hadn’t eaten in more than a week and lost 20 pounds.
Watkins said in Wednesday’s hearing that Chansley believes eating nonorganic food “sucks the life out of your body.”
In a written order issued later Wednesday, Lamberth blasted the DC’s corrections department for discriminating against Chansley and treating him differently from Jewish or Muslim inmates.
“The implication [is] that if defendant belonged to some other favored sect, he would not have had to seek a federal court order to gain recognition of his religious rights,” Lamberth wrote, adding: “At today’s hearing, the DOC did not even dispute that Shamanism is a religion. To the contrary, the DOC itself sent defendant’s dietary request to its Chaplain, indicating that it, too, apparently thought defendant’s request of a religious nature.”
The judge said the Department of Corrections couldn’t pick and choose between religions
Chansley, wearing furs and enormous horns on his head but no shirt on his torso, was one of the most visible members of the violent insurrection at the Capitol building on January 6. A QAnon influencer who also goes by Jake Angeli, he was arrested on multiple charges on January 8, one of the first of more than 230 people to be charged in relation to the riot.
After Chansley was taken into custody, a judge ordered that the jail holding him in Arizona feed him organic food in accordance with his religious beliefs.
But when he was transferred to a Washington, DC, jail later in January, the District of Columbia corrections department denied his accommodations request.
At the court hearing Wednesday afternoon, an attorney for the corrections department said that its religious services division said an all-organic diet wasn’t consistent with its understanding of Shamanism. Lamberth said the DOC didn’t have the right to establish those kinds of religious tests.
“Defendant’s willingness to go without food for more than a week is strong evidence of his sincerity in his religious belief,” he wrote.
Chansley has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. After Lamberth issued his order, Watkins withdrew his request for Chansley’s early release.
Prosecutors had opposed his release from jail, arguing in a brief filed before the hearing that he had “escalated the chaos” at the Capitol and could not be trusted to appear in court for his trial.
This article has been updated.
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