Court sides with Virginia inmate who says his religion requires wine and two days of Sabbath rest
A Virginia inmate that goes by the name “Jesus Emmanuel Jehovah” is claiming that prison officials violated his religious rights by denying him communion wine, making him work on Sabbath days and placing him with a satanic cell mate.
The case was initially dismissed but that was overturned by an appeals court Thursday, MyFoxDC reports. His lawsuit claiming the Virginia Department of Corrections violated his religious freedom and ignored medical complaints will move forward.
Jehovah claims that prison officials denied him the right to have communion the way his faith requires, which would be to consume red wine and bread dipped in honey, olive oil, sugar, cinnamon and water.
He also complained that the prison staff failed to accommodate his observations of the Sabbath, assigning him work at the facility during the two days he observes, the “Old Jewish Sabbath” from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday, and “New Christian Sabbath,” from sunset Sunday to sunrise Monday, according to court documents.
He also claims that his beliefs were violated by the prison housing him with non-Christian inmates, particularly a “self-proclaimed Satanist and anti-Christian” who harassed him with “anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-God” rhetoric.
Since 2011, Jehovah has lived with “an atheist, an agnostic, a worldly Muslim, a false/non-practicing insincere Christian, a racist black anti-Christian atheist, a self proclaimed ‘Hell’s Angel’ biker, and a black anti-Christian from an anti-white gang,” the court noted.
Jehovah also claimed that the prison doctor ignored symptoms of an infection and under-treated him, testing him for HIV and then ignoring his other complaints, including fatigue, neck lesions, a phlegm-producing cough, night sweats and other symptoms, referring him to mental health staff instated of treating him medically.
Jehovah claims this pattern repeated for two years and he never received adequate treatment.
According to the lawsuit, Jehovah practices a version of Christianity based on a Bible he wrote himself.