CV NEWS FEED // A city in Idaho recently gave a settlement of $300,000 to a local man who refused to wear a mask at an outdoor church service in 2020.
Gabriel Rench, a Christian deacon who previously served at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, was arrested in September 2020 as he was participating in a peaceful protest. According to FOX, Christ Church organized the protest, which consisted of members of the congregation singing psalms outside the city hall to oppose unconstitutional COVID regulations and mandates.
While he was exercising his First Amendment rights, Rench was arrested for allegedly not following “social distancing” rules and for refusing to wear a mask.
One year after his arrest, Rench and two others who had also been arrested sued Moscow, stating that their First and Fourth Amendment rights had been violated by the arrest.
According to FOX, Rench was accused of violating the city’s health ordinance, though the ordinance made exceptions for religious activities.
In February 2023, a district court ruled that “the plaintiffs [Rench et al.] should never have been arrested in the first place.”
The city of Moscow refused to pay the settlement until June 2, according to a press release from Rench’s website.
“I am glad this shameful saga is over, but unfortunately at a high cost to the city taxpayers. I estimate that the city spent about $500,000 of city resources on this fight, including the mediated settlement,” Rench said in the press release.
Speaking about the religious discrimination present in Moscow, Rench continued:
The liberal cult that runs Moscow has twisted city code and crafted unconstitutional emergency health orders… targeted to harass members of our Christian community and this discrimination needs to stop.