(LifeSiteNews) — Three Christians who were arrested for an outdoor hymn protest during the COVID-19 pandemic have come out ahead after their city agreed to a settlement to end the lawsuit.
Gabriel Rench and Sean and Rachel Bohnet had filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Moscow, Idaho and certain city employees after being arrested for singing religious hymns outside the City Hall in September 2020. The charges were related to violating masking and social distancing regulations imposed during the pandemic.
“Under the terms of the settlement agreement, ICRMP [Idaho Counties Risk Management Program] will pay a total settlement amount of $300,000 and all claims against the City and the named City employees will be dismissed with prejudice along with a release of all liability,” reads a July 14 press release from the city.
The statement further explains that “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” and says that it “provides closure of a matter related to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and the City’s efforts to protect the public during an exceptionally trying time.”
Rench, who is a member of Christ Church as well as a public relations consultant and conservative commentator, said in a July 17 press release that he is “glad this shameful saga is over” while lamenting the high cost of the litigation and settlement for taxpayers.
“The liberal cult that runs Moscow has twisted city code and crafted unconstitutional emergency health orders that act like modern Jim Crow laws targeted to harass members of our Christian community and this discrimination needs to stop.”
The release further explained that “the arrests happened on September 23, 2020, at a Psalm sing protest in the parking lot of City Hall. The protest had been organized by Christ Church, where Gabriel Rench was a deacon, and the ensuing news coverage spread far and wide.”
“Many around the country were outraged by the decision of MPD to arrest peaceful protestors, while others raged at Christ Church for behaving, they believed, unlawfully and unsafely. Since that time, Christ Church has proven to have been right about the flawed science behind Moscow’s COVID orders, and now they have proven to have been right on the law as well.”
While mandates were argued to be “necessary” to prevent the spread of the virus and even save lives, data confirmed the opposite to be true. In July 2021, LifeSiteNews compiled 47 studies that debunked the claim masks were beneficial and 32 that proved their negative impact.
A more recent study showed that students in American public schools are facing lower academic levels after school closures during the pandemic compared with achievement levels before the coronavirus outbreak.