In a sad display of government overreach, the town of Moscow, Idaho has agreed to pay out a hefty $300,000 settlement to three Christians who were wrongfully arrested at an outdoor church service during the pandemic.
The incident occurred in September 2020, when members of Christ Church gathered for a “Psalm sing” event outside Moscow City Hall.
At the time, the city was still under a mask mandate, and police officers moved in to take Gabriel Rench, Sean Bohnet, and Rachel Bohnet into custody.
The three subsequently sued the city claiming that their First and Fourth Amendment rights had been violated by their arrests.
In a video of the arrest, other members of the church continued to sing as the three were handcuffed.
Rev. Ben Zornes had said that the event was a protest against the mask mandates, which he referred to as “largely groundless laws,” according to a report from Fox News at the time.
A magistrate judge dismissed the city’s case against them, and U.S. District Court Judge Morrison C. England, Jr. wrote 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.”
“Somehow, every single City official involved overlooked the exclusionary language of [constitutionally protected behavior] in the Ordinance,” the judge continued.
Rench told Fox that the incident made him a pariah in the small college town.
“I think it’s no secret that portions of our government and political groups are now starting to target Christians in a way that has never really happened in America or Canada,” he said.
“I’m in a conservative state, but I live in a liberal town, and the liberals had no problem arresting me for practicing my religious rights and my Constitutional rights,” Rench continued. “But my [Republican] governor also didn’t defend me either. If you look at what’s going on in Canada, I think America’s 10 years, at most 20 years, behind Canada if we don’t make significant changes.”
Here is the video of the arrest: