Summary: Soul Tribes International Ministries, a psychedelic church in Detroit, is petitioning a federal court to hear its case against the city. The church, raided by Detroit police and subsequently padlocked, argues that its distribution of psilocybin as a religious sacrament is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Psychedelic Church in Detroit Challenges City’s Legal Action in Federal Court
Soul Tribes International Ministries, located inside the Bushnell Congregational Church, faced a raid by Detroit police in September, leading to the city filing a nuisance claim and obtaining a temporary restraining order. The church’s owner, Shaman Shu (also known as Robert Shumake and Bobby Japhia), filed a motion on November 6 to move the case to federal court, citing a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The city’s lawyers have petitioned to return the case to the Wayne County Circuit Court, and a judge’s ruling is awaited on whether the case will remain in the federal system. Soul Tribes considers psilocybin mushrooms a religious sacrament and was selling them on church property. The police raid resulted in the seizure of significant quantities of suspected psilocybin mushrooms and marijuana, along with a laboratory allegedly used for manufacturing psychoactive substances.
Detroit Corporation Counsel Conrad Mallet stated that exercising religious freedom does not permit breaking the law. The city’s complaint against Shu and Soul Tribes describes the property as a distribution center for unlawful controlled substances, despite being masked as a church.
In 2021, Detroit voters approved a ballot measure decriminalizing entheogenic plants and fungi, although these substances remain illegal under state and federal law. The city argues that the case against Soul Tribes does not involve federal issues and should be heard by the state court.
Shu’s legal representation has shifted from Detroit’s Cannabis Counsel to Florida-based attorney George Lake, an expert in religious freedom and sacramental consumption of psychedelics. Lake and Shu plan a $1 billion countersuit against the city, alleging racial and religious discrimination, and claim Soul Tribes suffered $500,000 in damages while the building was padlocked.
The case raises significant questions about the free exercise of religion and the sacramental consumption of psychedelics, challenging the legal boundaries of religious freedom and drug laws.
Source: High Times
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