A former heroin addict who dresses like Jesus Christ and preaches in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was kicked out of a Roman Catholic cathedral and cited for trespassing.
Michael Grant, commonly known as “Philly Jesus,” was removed from an installation service for Archbishop Nelson Perez at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Tuesday.
Law enforcement removed Grant from the ceremony and he was eventually given a $25 citation for trespassing at the service and released from custody shortly after being detained.
“I said, ‘I’m a priest.’ He said, ‘You’re not a Roman Catholic priest.’ I’m a universal priest,” Grant told NBC's affiliate in Philadelphia. “I just kept standing my ground … I brought up my religious rights,” he added, explaining that police “dragged me out like head first through the double doors.”
Grant said he considered the citation to be “bogus” and was planning to take legal action due to his belief that he was unjustly targeted.
“It’s a disgrace how I was treated. I was extremely embarrassed. It was a horrible feeling,” he continued. “They were just hating on me. … But Jesus said, ‘Hater’s gonna hate.’ He said that in John chapter 15, verse 18. Jesus said, ‘If the world hates you, remember it hated Me first.’”
According to an entry on his website, at one time Grant was a satanic rocker who went by the stage name Opal Weaver. While undergoing rehab, he became a Christian.
"JESUS came into my Life and brought me to my knees in tears of JOY ... and broke every chain of addiction in my life. ... He broke the chain of sin in my life ... ripping its veil completely," stated Philly Jesus.
"The people of Philadelphia have coined me with the name Philly Jesus ... so I decided to run with it ... I have decided that I will be doing this Philly Jesus street ministry for the rest of my days on Earth to HONOR and GLORiFY ONE MAN."
Grant has been known to go about Philadelphia with long hair, a beard, and wearing a robe, evangelizing and even occasionally baptizing people at the LOVE Park fountain.
In September 2016, Grant was found guilty of trespassing at an Apple Store when he came in to charge his phone due to him bringing a large cross inside with him that was blocking an aisle.
Following the 2016 verdict, Grant took to Facebook to forgive the prosecution, maintain his innocence, and express his intention to appeal the decision.
"Mixed verdict for me — Not guilty of disorderly conduct but was found guilty of defiant trespass .. but I forgive them for trespassing against me ... for they know not what they do ... I will appeal ... ALL iS WELL ... GOD iS GOOD NO MATTER WHAT..I'AM iNNOCENT IN JESUS CHRiST MiGHTY NAME," wrote Philly Jesus at the time.