President Donald Trump sent out a tweet on Wednesday that shared a video of a Moscow, Idaho, man being arrested, but his tweet perpetuated a questionable claim about the event that led to the arrest.
Trump retweeted a tweet that shared a video of the Moscow Christ Church’s parishioners singing in purposeful defiance, and protest, of Moscow’s mask order. The man who posted the original tweet described the assembly as an outdoor church service.
In a comment with his retweet, Trump wrote, “DEMS WANT TO SHUT YOUR CHURCHES DOWN, PERMANENTLY. HOPE YOU SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING. VOTE NOW!”
The video depicts Christ Church members participating a “psalm sing” in protest of Moscow’s mask order during the coronavirus pandemic. About 150 people attended, including Latah County Commission candidate Gabriel Rench, who is shown in the video being arrested by officers.
The Sept. 23 arrest was one of three that happened in the Moscow City Hall parking lot, according to the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
Of five people cited for violating the mask order, two also were arrested for suspicion of resisting or obstructing an officer. The third, Rench, was arrested but not charged with refusing to identify himself to police, according to Moscow Police Chief James Fry.
The original tweet was on the account of Cliff Maloney, of Young Americans for Liberty. Maloney wrote: “If you would have told me in 2019 that we were just 1 year away from Americans being ARRESTED for holding outdoor church services, I would have thought you to be insane. This is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen. Pray for America.”
The church was not shut down.
Another “psalm sing” is scheduled for Wednesday evening, according to Christ Church’s Facebook page.
Ben Zornes, a Christ Church pastor and organizer of the event, said in September that the church hosts psalm, or hymn, events about once a month at places like Friendship Square, East City Park or at a house. He said Wednesday’s psalm sing was also a fitting way to show that residents want a return to normalcy in the face of COVID-19.
“We wanted to make a statement we’re ready to head back to normal,” Zornes said. He said it is time to start pushing back against “largely groundless” laws.
The Moscow-Pullman Daily News contributed.