christian arrests
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A liberal Idaho college town is paying $300,000 to three Christian churchgoers who sued the city after being arrested for not wearing masks at an outside service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city of Moscow recently announced that it would settle with Gabriel Rench and Seand and Rachel Bohnet, who brought a case against city leaders in March 2021 that claimed their rights under the First and Fourth Amendments were violated when they were arrested at an outdoor “psalm sing” conducted by church leaders in September 2020.

Moscow, home to the University of Idaho, is a town of approximately 25,000 people about 80 miles south of Spokane, Washington. Christ Church is a local congregation of roughly 1,000 people from the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches. Footage of the arrests went viral and was condemned on Twitter by then-President Trump. The video shows officers taking Rench’s hymn book before taking him away in handcuffs to the county jail, where he and others were detained for several hours.

The peaceful psalm-singing protest lasted about 20 minutes in front of Moscow City Hall, where city officials placed small yellow dots six feet apart as social distancing guidelines for participants. Rench and others were charged with violating the city’s extended health ordinance, which carved out exemptions for activities protected under the U.S. Constitution and the Idaho State Constitution, including religious activity.

A magistrate judge later dismissed the city’s case against them. U.S. District Court Judge Morrison C. England, Jr., wrote in his Feb. 1, 2023 memorandum and order denying the city’s motion to dismiss that the “plaintiffs should never have been arrested in the first place, and the constitutionality of what the City thought [its] code said is irrelevant.” The judge wrote, “Somehow, every single City official involved overlooked the exclusionary language [of constitutionally protected behavior] in the Ordinance.”

Rench told Fox News Digital that he had become an outsider in his predominantly liberal community since the arrest and subsequent settlement. Rench says members of his neighborhood have accused him of being “an idiot” who does not “love his neighbor” and have urged him to “take your money and run” since the payout.

Rench said one of the things he learned through his ordeal is that “hardened” political leaders cannot be expected to change their thought processes or political views. “What needs to happen is the people need to change how they vote and disincentivize the targeting of Christians and those who are genuinely trying to defend the Constitution,” he said, adding that he shares with the jailed Canadian pastors the false portrayal of being a rebel.

According to a press release provided to Fox News Digital, the city said its liability insurance provider, Idaho Counties Risk Management Program (ICRMP), “determined that a financial settlement in the case was the best course of action to dispose of the suit and avoid a protracted litigation proceeding.”

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