Gabe Rench lives in Moscow, Idaho, but on Sept. 23, he felt like he was in Moscow, Russia.
You won’t believe what Rench and two other Christians did to get arrested in their hometown.
“This is tyranny,” Rench said as police took him away – and it was all caught on video.
Rench, who is running for Latah County Commissioner in Moscow, Idaho was one of three people arrested during an outdoor worship service.
Five people were cited for not adhering to the town’s mask mandate and social-distancing ordinance, including two who were arrested for suspicion of resisting or obstructing police.
More than 150 worshippers showed up at a city hall parking lot for a “Flash Psalm Sing” sponsored by Moscow’s Christ Church.
“As soon as we started singing, the police walked up to me,” Rench said.
As the congregation sang “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow,” Rench and two others were handcuffed by police.
Rench, a Republican who hosts a local conservative radio show, was then escorted to a police car.
“This is unbelievable,” he told officers as members of the congregation videoed the incident.
“You guys should not be doing this, and doing this kind of crap for the mayor. This is embarrassing.”
“You guys are stronger than this. You guys are tough, you are cops.”
“This is wrong,” a worshipper who witnessed the incident told police. “I didn’t see this happening for BLM [Black Lives Matter].”
As “Amazing Grace” played in the background, Rench is seen trying to reason with the officers who arrested him.
“At what point do you fight against tyranny, do you protect citizens against tyranny?” he asked.
“You have to know this is wrong. We have the right to assemble and you can protect our rights.”
Watch the video yourself:
Sean and Rachel Bohnet were among the three arrested at the Psalm Sing service for singing while not wearing a mask or…
Later that evening, Rench and his co-hosts held a special broadcast of their “CrossPolitics” talk show, a Christian show that mixes faith, culture and politics.
“You want to know how powerful Psalms are?” shouted co-host David Shannon. “They just arrested people for singing Amazing Grace!”
Shannon, who is black, said he attended a recent Black Lives Matter rally in Moscow where no one was arrested despite dozens of people not social-distancing or wearing masks. The July rally, he said, was held to protest racial injustice and featured calls to defund the local police.
Shannon, who moved to Moscow from Minneapolis, said he and his wife had a meeting after the rally with Moscow Police Chief James Frye to pledge their support for local police.
“Our police were taking hits …. I love this place … so we said, we got your back,” Shannon said.
Now he wonders if the same support and courtesy applies to people of faith.
“Shame on you,” he said to local police on the talk show. “If you thought what they did to George Floyd was bad, you are inching that way. You are becoming the very people you don’t want to become.”
“Everybody should go down to city hall and start singing Amazing Grace,” he said. “This is the warfare. This is the battle.”
Moscow’s mask order was implemented in July and states that face coverings must be worn at indoor and outdoor public events where six-foot social distancing cannot be maintained. Frye told the Moscow-Pullman Daily News that the five people cited were not wearing masks or social distancing.
The police chief said his department had been “very lenient” with the ordinance, “but at some point in time you have to enforce.”
The Psalm Sing was organized by Christ Church Pastor Ben Zornes, who told the local paper that residents were ready to get back to normal after months of COVID-19 restrictions.
“We wanted to make a statement we’re ready to head back to normal,” Zornes said. “We were just singing songs.”
Zornes said it is time for churches and residents to start pushing back against “largely groundless laws.”
The arrests were another incident of churches and Christians being harassed or shut down for worshipping during the coronavirus pandemic. It was met with widespread outrage among Christians.
“Why are the citizens not putting a stop to this? They work for the public, hold them accountable,” one observer wrote on social media.
“Every police officer and every elected leader involved in this depraved attack on the U.S. Constitution should be removed from office, and the Justice Department should launch a civil rights investigation,” said Christian author and talk show host Todd Starnes.
“Did you ever imagine you would see the day when Christians peacefully singing hymns would be arrested and charged with crimes?”