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Madison Rastafarian church founder after jail release: “We’re here to spread love”

MADISON (WKOW) —  One of the founders of a Rastafarian church in Madison tells 27 News he’ll overcome accusations of running a drug house.

“We’re here to spread love and joy and truth and knowledge to the people and nobody can stop that,”  Dylan Bangert told 27 News Friday moments after being released from the Dane County jail.

Bangert and fellow founder of Madison’s Lion of Judah House of Rastafari Church Jesse Schwork were arrested in a Madison Police drug raid Wednesday.  Dane County Court Commissioner Jason Hanson Friday ordered the men to stay away from the building at 555 West Mifflin Street they use as a church.  Bangert and Schwork were released from jail on signature bonds.  A prosecutor says they will face criminal charges by Thursday.

Schworck and Bangert face possible charges of delivery of marijuana and maintaining a drug dwelling, according to a news release.

During a Friday court hearing, Hanson refused to allow the men to use a religious exemption to continue to use drugs for personal use.  Bangert and Schwork have maintained the use of marijuana is a sacrament in their worship.

“We are just living in the way God has commanded us to live, so the laws of man are a little bit different than the laws of God,”  Bangert tells 27 News.

Police served a search warrant just before 9 a.m. Wednesday at the church storefront building. Windows were broken by officers to get inside the location, but no one was hurt during the process, according to a news release.

The operators describe their establishment as a church that is “Wisconsin’s first and only lawful Rastafari cannabis sanctuary.”

Hanson also said court documents indicate Schwork is also accused of attempting a baseball bat attack against someone.

“The allegations are running wild these days,”  Bangert tells 27 News.

Prior to the police intervention against the church location, city officials initiated attempts to use civil steps to stop Bangert and Schwork from distributing marijuana.

Bangert’s mother, Kim Bangert tells 27 News her son was exposed to Rastafarian faith principles during a family trip to Jamaica early in his life.

“Everyone needs to be free to fight for what they believe,”  she says.

“The line of Judah is our strength and our protection and I will fear no wicked man,”  Dylan Bangert says.

Hanson says no one Friday cited anything in the state or U.S. constitutions to exempt the men from complying with drug laws, although he acknowledged their claims may be argued in this case, if the men are charged as expected.

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