Update on the John MacArthur Went to Memphis the Night of Martin Luther King, Jr’s Murder Story

Recently, Grace to You Executive Director Phil Johnson publicly questioned John MacArthur’s account of his whereabouts and activities on the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered. In the past, Johnson has sharply criticized others, including me, for doing this. Since at least 2007, John MacArthur has claimed that he traveled to Memphis, TN with Charles Evers and John Perkins on the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. He said he stood where James Earl Ray shot the fatal bullet.

Civil rights icon Charles Evers denied that he went to Memphis with MacArthur. John Perkins has refused to comment on the record but empowered his daughter Deborah Perkins to speak for his foundation on the matter. She told me that Charles Evers denial is accurate.

In a recent interview with Justin Peters, Johnson was asked about MacArthur’s story. I have a transcript of what he said beginning at 51:40 and will comment below.

I think it’s possible that John has compressed the timeline of those events in his mind but he absolutely did go with John Perkins and his team to Memphis and stand on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel. He says within hours, I think it might have actually been within 48 hours or 72 hours after the assassination, it was right afterwards, and John describes how the blood stains were still on the balcony and that’s a matter of historical fact.

In fact, I read one story that I’m eager to find the facts on this one. But that in order to preserve some of the stuff people in the area had actually cut that piece of concrete with the blood stain out and moved it, removed it, and it’s been replaced where it originally was at the Lorraine Hotel and covered up with plexiglas so you can see the blood stain, apparently even until today.

There’s an article online titled something like, ‘the blood stain that won’t go away’ or something like that so can read about the facts of that.

But anyway, he, John describes how he was in the room where, uh, James Earl Ray shot the fatal bullet. Here’s how I know John’s memory on it isn’t exactly precise in every detail. ‘Cause he said he stood on the toilet where – he he he was in the room where the toilet was that James Earl Ray stood on when he shot MLK. The fact is he [Ray] was standing in the bathtub, There is a toilet right next to I, but he was, he was standing in the bathtub.

Little facts like that, that I think John misremembers, but the fact is, he was there, and there are other eyewitnesses who will verify that.

One of them is the president of Shasta, I think it’s called Shasta Bible College. Okay so, let me read this. The president of Shasta Bible College, his name is David Nicholas. He was part of that team that John was with when he was when all of that happened, and he has written a fairly thorough account of that summer with John Perkins. I say fairly thorough, it’s a letter. He wrote a lengthy letter to his constituents and described some of the same events that John described. And when I saw this letter. I took it to John and I said, “Do you remember this guy?” and John goes, “Oh yeah, I remember, we went to college together.” Uh so, And he mentions that he was there. John was there. They went to the assassination site and all that. So he tells the same story John does.

This is confirming eyewitness testimony which I have sent to some of these people who are insistent on you know calling John a liar and all that.

There is this Detwiler guy who puts stuff out all the time. And uh you know, they simply ignore any testimony that would corroborate John MacArthur’s account, and cite the testimony of people who say they don’t remember John being there, as if that’s somehow proof that John MacArthur’s lying about this.

It’s not a lie. He may have some incidental details wrong, but I think we all have fuzzy – uh the details of our memories from 50 years ago are, tend to be a little bit fuzzy. That’s more than 50 years ago, isn’t it. That’s 53 years ago…So if you wanted to pick apart John’s story say it couldn’t have been hours later, well, it depends on what you count as hours. If it was 72 hours later, it actually, it’s credible. And in fact there are photographs of the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, within days after the assassination, loaded with people looking and seeing and wanting to visit…

The other eyewitness Johnson mentioned here is David Nicholas, who was then the Director of Admissions at Los Angeles Baptist College. Nicholas, who is now president of Shasta Bible College, said he accompanied MacArthur on some of his preaching trips to MS and claimed in a June 2020 letter to Shasta constituents that he was along with Perkins and MacArthur on this trip to Memphis.

Despite what Johnson says here, Nicholas’ account is at odds with MacArthur’s. MacArthur makes it sound as if the group went to Memphis the night King, Jr. was murdered, whereas Nicholas (see the full letter here), said they went “later” (no closer to the murder than the next day after the 10am meeting with the sheriff). The whole account of how they heard of the murder is different than MacArthur’s. The account of the arrest is also different. Here is the relevant information from the letter:

One night after our team ministered at Voice of Calvary Church, we walked in the darkness to our car (there were no street lights in the black quarter of Mendenhall) and started to leave. Almost immediately, bright red lights came on behind us. It was the local Sheriff. He pulled us over and asked for John MacArthur’s driver license. This was a problem because John had unintentionally left his license back at our motel. The Sheriff then demanded that we show up at his office the following day at 10:00 a.m. Our entire team arrived on time and as we walked in, the officeradio was blaring out the news that Rev. Martin Luther King had been assassinated in Memphis. We were shocked by this news but astounded by the jubilant reaction of the law enforcement officers in the Sheriff’s office. Why? Because when we failed to join their jubilation, the Sheriff was not happy. He informed us that he knew why we were there in Mendenhall (assuming we were civil rights workers helping John Perkins). I’ll never forget the name tag on his uniform. It said, “Sheriff Willis.” He continued by telling us, “I’ve been Sheriff of this town for 25 years and my daddy before me and my granddaddy before him. You step out of line one time and we’ll take care of you and do it all legal-like.” He then threatened to beat us, mentioning the use of a belt, which was probably an idle threat since there were five of us; and after John MacArthur produced his license, we breathed a sigh of relief as we left his office. All we wanted to do was to assist John Perkins in reaching the black community for Christ, and being from CA where attitudes were far different, we were shocked by the Sheriff’s reaction both toward the assassination of MLK and us!

Following our encounter with the Sheriff, John Perkins suggested we visit his friend, Charles Evers, Mayor of Fayette, MS, brother of American civil rights activist, Medgar Evers, who was assassinated July 2, 1963 in Jackson, MS. He drove all five of us through the barricades erected to control the crowds of black folk protesting the death of Dr. King. There we were, five white guys being driven by a black man, something that in those days was certain to raise suspicion. As we drove through they yelled out, “Are you guys “soul?” We quickly answered, “Yeah, we’re “soul.” When we finally made it to Mayor Evers’ office, John Perkins introduced us and as we sat before him sharing why we were there, a red phone rang on his desk. It was President Lyndon Baines Johnson, begging Mayor Evers to come to Wash., D.C. and help quell the protests there. Mayor Evers replied, “I’m sorry Mr. President, I can’t come. I have my hands full here.” Later we traveled to Memphis and stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was shot and looked out the window of the bathroom of the rooming house where James Earl Ray aimed his .30-06 at Rev. King. But as a result of that meeting with Mayor Evers, our team, including John MacArthur, myself, and three other musically talented men from BIOLA University, were asked to speak and minister in music at public school assemblies all around Jackson, Fayette and Mendenhall.

These details are the kind that can easily become altered by time. My issue here is not that small details may have been rearranged by time. I write to update my previous posts on the subject with these acknowledgements by Johnson and the new information from Nicholas.

I also note that Johnson is free to question MacArthur, but the motives of others are insulted when they do. Unknown to me, Johnson told blogger Brent Detwiler that I made “evil insinuations” in my article on this topic when I reported what John Perkin’s daughter Deborah said she was authorized by John Perkins to say about the subject. Johnson also told Detwiler that I made no effort to get John Perkins to answer the question: “Is it true that you went with John MacArthur to the Lorraine Motel in the wake of the MLK assassination?” That statement was false when he made it, and it remains so.

John Perkins’ Puzzling Silence

One of the aspects of this story that remains puzzling to me is why John Perkins has refused to comment directly. If his experience corroborates MacArthur and Nicholas, then what does he gain by remaining silent? When I asked Deborah Perkins about this, she said John MacArthur was a friend of Dr. Perkins and that was all they wanted to say. However, this line of responding implies that Dr. Perkins’ candid response would not be favorable to their friendship. If Perkins’ reply would support MacArthur’s account, why wouldn’t a friend say so?

 

 

The entire interview with Phil Johnson:

Another COVID-19 Outbreak at John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church – UPDATED

UPDATE: LA County Department of Health informed me this afternoon (12/21) that “No additional outbreaks have been reported by Grace Community Church to Public Health since” the earlier employee related outbreak in October.

………………..

Twitter user and Medium writer Modern Day Zorro posted a piece on Medium with news of another Grace Community Church COVID outbreak (there was one back in October). MDZ is close to GCC and has never been wrong with news on the church. (My question mark in the title is admittedly self-protective, and because I have not been able to get confirmation from Grace’s PR firm. – See the update below) Given the lack of mitigation measures and the ignorance about COVID which have been apparent at Grace, I don’t doubt the report. However, if corrections or modifications are needed, I will make them.

According to the Medium report, multiple Grace members and staff may be infected:

  1. Don’t take the vaccine as it’s just a money ploy.
  2. Grace is welcoming 400 new members.
  3. The giving is the best it’s ever been.
  4. There are no long-term side effects to COVID.
  • Yes <hits mic and blows into it> 7 people, elders and staff, have COVID symptoms and have subsequently tested positive as a direct result of going to a Staff Christmas party.

    While I await confirmation of specific numbers, I can note that one pastor at Grace, Will Varner, has tested positive for COVID and announced this publicly. He also said a musician affiliated with GCC’s Sojourners ministry tested positive.

Let’s not forget that MacArthur’s attorney Jenna Ellis tested positive for COVID-19.

As someone who has had COVID, I certainly wish the best for these folks. I post this because I sincerely doubt that certain church leaders at GCC will provide the congregation with appropriate information. At least, it hasn’t happened so far.

UPDATE: Julie Roys has an article out on Sunday with reporting that people at Grace are being discouraged from telling anyone about their COVID diagnosis.  She also has much more documentation of GCC members and staff who have COVID. It seems pretty clear that MacArthur’s rosy picture of a church meeting indoors without caution and without cases of COVID is false.

During church on Sunday morning, MacArthur did not comment on the cases identified by the sources noted above and by Julie Roys.

Another update from Modern Day Zorro:

MacArthur said everybody has a bug.

L.A. County Concludes Workplace Investigation of Grace Community Church; COVID-19 Requirements Still Binding on Church

Recently, Grace Community Church posted this on their website

Outbreak Restrictions Lifted

We are glad to announce that we received a notice from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Thursday, November 12, saying that we have been cleared of COVID-19 outbreak. After a thorough investigation, Public Health officials have decided to rescind all outbreak related requirements and restrictions on Grace Community Church.

The L.A. County Department of Public Health doesn’t quite see it that way. I asked them for a reaction to this statement and they sent the following response to me exclusively tonight.

Please see the department of Public Heath’s response:

Public Health’s investigation into the Grace Community Church worksite COVID-19 outbreak was recently concluded.  The Church is still required to follow all current Health Officer Order requirements for places of worship, which include outdoor services, as well as all applicable infection control protocols for all activities that occur on the Grace Community Church campus.  Public Health has found that Sun Valley has among the higher rates of COVID-19 transmission in the County of Los Angeles.  Compliance with the required infection control protocols by Grace Community Church will lessen the risk of COVID-19 transmission to its employees and visitors.

Grace Community Church starting at the top has been marked by non-compliance with mask wearing and social distancing. Pastor John MacArthur has communicated bogus COVID-19 prevalence statistics and denied there is a pandemic.

All restrictions on Grace church have not been rescinded. The leaders and people of Grace are simply ignoring them. There are or were 5 employees who contracted COVID-19 recently and there is an outbreak at The Master’s University as well. The Health Order has not been rescinded; Grace Church is simply refusing to follow it.

 

 

Grace Community Church and The Master’s University Have Outbreaks of COVID-19 (UPDATED with Church Response)

(UPDATE 10/27) A fifth case of COVID-19 is now associated with Grace Community Church, you can check the case numbers here.

………………………………

(UPDATE) According to an email that went out to the Grace Community, the people who have COVID are part-time employees.

You may have seen a report on the news claiming that there is a COVID-19 outbreak at our church. There is no outbreak at Grace Church. We have three, part-time employees who tested positive and are now recovering at home, having never been hospitalized. As we enter the flu season, we encourage you to stay home if you are not feeling well or have COVID-19-like symptoms. We are going to meet for worship this Sunday to celebrate the Lord’s Table together.

Do those employees also attend the church? This statement raises as many questions as it answers.

………………………

(UPDATE) Jenna Ellis, attorney for Grace Community Church just released this statement in response to the LA Times article about the COVID outbreak at the church:

Three very mild positive tests among more than 7000 people is hardly news. 0.0004% is not an ‘outbreak.’ The LA Times and others’ grossly misleading and fear-mongering headlines aim to mischaracterize Grace Community Church as irresponsible and a superspreader. It has never been the Church’s position that it is only safe to hold services if no one ever tests positive, or for example, if no one ever gets the flu during flu season. Our position has been that LA County shutting down churches indefinitely amid a virus with a 99.98% survival rate, especially when state-preferred businesses are open and protests are held without restriction, is unconstitutional and harmful to the free exercise of religion.

I wrote the public relations firm back to inform them that the actual percentage is .043% (3 divided by 7000 multiplied by 100). If they issue a correction, I will note it. Perhaps this is why MacArthur continues to cite incorrect prevalence figures for CA.

(UPDATE) – The public relations firm wrote back and acknowledged the math error.

Ellis also has the survival rate wrong. It isn’t correct to speak about surviving an illness you have never had. She incorrectly refers to the number of deaths as a proportion of the population. However, she is incorrect there as well. Her number (.02%) would lead to a death toll of 65,000 deaths. The COVID death toll is just over 224,000. The number of cases is about 8.6 million. The fatality rate among people who have had the illness stands at about 2.5%. The actual fatality rate may be lower, but it isn’t as low as Ellis and company want you to believe.

The term outbreak has a precise definition taken from the California Department of Health. Here is the definition:

  • In non-residential congregate settings, e.g., workplaces, adult and child daycare facilities, K-12 schools and colleges/universities:
    • At least three probable or confirmed COVID-19 cases* within a 14-day period in people who are epidemiologically-linked† in the setting, are from different households, and are not identified as close contacts‡ of each other in any other case investigation.

……………..

The L.A. Times reported late yesterday that three cases of COVID-19 are now associated with Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. This is John MacArthur’s church where the members don’t wear masks or keep a safe distance.

In addition, MacArthur’s college, The Master’s University reported two cases of COVID-19 on campus. According to a source close to the college, a third case was discovered within the past two days. Apparently, there is something to this coronavirus.

Pastor John MacArthur is in a court battle with Los Angeles County over a health order forbidding indoor worship in the county. He once told his congregation that it was good news that they were not wearing masks and were not social distancing. He also has declared that there is not a pandemic based on faulty statistics about the prevalence of COVID-19 in CA.

Julie Roys reminded me of this fact from the past. Two people died as a result of attending John MacArthur’s Shepherd Conference in March. In addition to these fatalities, there was also a couple who became quite ill and was hospitalized in the Spring.

 

Despite Indoor Services, Grace Community Church Doesn’t Want to Get Sued if You Get COVID-19 at the Church

Even though L.A. County said they placed them in the wrong spots, Grace Community Church posts signs disclaiming responsibility for any sickness if a person gets COVID-19 at the church. Given this disclaimer, it is not surprising that persons who say they attend Grace say they have to sign a COVID-19 waiver if they want to volunteer at the church.

John “There is no pandemic” MacArthur’s church requires a waiver from people who serve according to three sources who sent me copies of what they say members and staff are required to sign in order to work or volunteer at the church. Last week, I sent the waiver to the public relations firm representing the church with a request for confirmation and/or comment but did not get any response.

The full waiver is linked above and provided below but at least one point is worth mentioning. Remember when John MacArthur said:

the good news is that you’re here, you’re not distancing, and you’re not wearing masks.

Here is what the waiver sent to me requires a person to affirm:

While wearing a mask covering the mouth and nose while in the Church is not required, I assume additional risks of possible injury and death by not wearing a mask. I understand that I may request a mask from the Church and the Church will provide one for my use. I have been encouraged to use a mask at all times when engaging in Activities at the Church.

I am not a lawyer but if I wanted to challenge this waiver, John MacArthur’s words in church would be exhibit A. Furthermore, during the weeks that Grace has been meeting, no one on camera has worn a mask and no one has been encouraged to wear a mask. No social distancing has been observed.

Here is the waiver of liability:

WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE NOTICE: THIS IS A LEGALLY BINDING AGREEMENT. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.

I desire to participate in one or more activities or programs (each individually an “Activity”; collectively, “Activities”) offered, operated, sponsored or directed by, or otherwise involving, Grace Community Church of the Valley (“Grace Community Church”). The Activities may occur in whole or in part at or in the church (the “Church”) located at 13248 Roscoe
Boulevard, Sun Valley, California 91352 owned and operated by Grace Community Church. The Activities may involve, without limitation, attending or assisting with programs, events, instruction, and classes both inside and outside the Church and with or without supervision of Grace Community Church or any of its employees, contractors or personnel (collectively, “Personnel”). I understand that each Activity poses inherent risks of exposure to and/or contracting the COVID-19 virus. With full knowledge and understanding of these risks, and in consideration of my use of the Church and participation in Activities, I acknowledge and agree as follows:

1. Acknowledgement and Assumption of the Risk

I acknowledge that participation in Activities, use of the Church and any services provided by the Church subjects me to the following risks, among others: accidents which cannot be foreseen and personal injury, including but not limited to death or sickness from contracting the Coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID‑19”), the infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

I understand and acknowledge that:

A. The above list of risks is not inclusive of all the possible risks to which I will be subject in participating in Activities and using the Church and that the list in no way limits the extent or reach of this Waiver of Liability and Covenant Not to Sue (this “Agreement”) or any provision of this Agreement.

B. There is an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 in any place where people are present.

C. While wearing a mask covering the mouth and nose while in the Church is not required, I assume additional risks of possible injury and death by not wearing a mask. I understand that I may request a mask from the Church and the Church will provide one for my use. I have been encouraged to use a mask at all times when engaging in Activities at the Church.

I understand that masks may reduce or mitigate the above risks, but are in no way a guarantee of safety. I further recognize that masks have limited capability as far as prevention of infection from contracting COVID-19.

I VOLUNTARILY ASSUME ALL OF THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH PARTICIPATION IN ANY ACTIVITY OR USE OF THE CHURCH, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO RISK OF INJURY, SICKNESS AND DEATH FROM CONTRACTING COVID-19 OR EXPOSURE TO COVID-19. I VOLUNTARILY ASSUME ALL SUCH RISKS WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATION OF THE RISKS INVOLVED.

2. Waiver of Liability and Covenant Not to Sue

I, on behalf of myself, my heirs, representatives, executors, administrators and assigns, hereby knowingly and intentionally (A) waive any and all liability of Grace Community Church and their respective successors, assigns, owners, shareholders, officers, directors, members and
Personnel (each individually, a “Released Party”; collectively, “Released Parties”) for, (B) release Released Parties from, and (C) covenant not to sue Released Parties for any and all causes of action, claims, injuries, liabilities, damages or demands of any nature whatsoever, whether known or unknown, anticipated or unanticipated, which I, my heirs, representatives, executors, administrators and assigns may now have, or may have in the future against any Released Party on account of any and all known and unknown, foreseen and unforeseen personal injuries, property damage, death, sickness or accident of any kind and whenever occurring, arising out of or in any way related to any Activity, any occurrence or event involving the Church, any Released Party or any service or program related to any thereof, whether such Activity, occurrence or event is supervised or unsupervised and however and whenever any injury, property damage, death, sickness or accident is caused. THIS WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE SHALL BE EFFECTIVE EVEN THOUGH SAID LOSS, DAMAGE OR INJURY RESULTS OR HAS RESULTED FROM THE NEGLIGENCE, WRONGFUL ACTS, OMISSIONS, BREACH OF WARRANTY, OR STRICT TORT LIABILITY OF ANY RELEASED PARTY. NOTWITHSTANDING THE IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING SENTENCE, THIS WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND COVENANT NOT TO SUE SHALL NOT BE EFFECTIVE IN REGARD TO LOSS, DAMAGE OR INJURY RESULTING FROM THE GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR WILLFUL OR WANTON MISCONDUCT OF ANY OF THE RELEASED PARTIES.

3. Indemnification Agreement

I hereby agree to INDEMNIFY, HOLD HARMLESS AND DEFEND the Released Parties from and against any and all causes of action, claims, demands, losses, damages, liabilities and costs (including but not limited to attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by Released Parties or any thereof) of any nature whatsoever, including but not limited to those caused by the negligence of any Released Party (except for those resulting from the gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct of any Released Party), arising out of or in any way relating to my use of the Church or the services provided thereby or my participation in any Activity.

4. Miscellaneous

I certify that I am in proper physical and mental condition to participate in Activities and that I have no physical limitations that would preclude my safely using the Church or participating in Activities, subject to the risks assumed. I agree to read and abide by all rules from time to time posted in the Church or otherwise communicated to me. I agree to comply with requests and instructions of all Personnel. In the event of an accident, if I should be unconscious or otherwise unable to make medical decisions for myself, I hereby grant the Released Parties permission to administer necessary first aid, and/or to solicit emergency medical services as deemed necessary. This authorization includes permission for emergency medical transportation to the nearest medical facility for additional medical treatment.

I hereby voluntarily waive any right I may have to a trial by jury in any action, proceeding or litigation involving any Released Party. The laws of the State of California shall govern the rights and obligations of the parties to this Agreement and the interpretation, construction and enforceability thereof. I agree that any lawsuit brought against any Released Party shall be brought solely in The Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, North Central District. If any portion of this Agreement is held invalid, the remainder shall remain in full force and effect.

I hereby grant to Grace Community Church, and Grace Community Church reserves the right to use for promotional purposes any photographs taken by Grace Community Church at the Church or during any Activity. Such images may be used in Grace Community Church’s brochures, posters, website or other promotional materials without liability or payment.

I ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT BY SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT I AM RELIEVING THE CHURCH AND ALL RELEASED PARTIES OF ANY AND ALL LIABILITY FOR ANY LOSS, DAMAGE, INJURY, SICKNESS OR DEATH RESULTING FROM ANY ACTIVITY AND WAIVING MY RIGHT TO MAINTAIN A LAWSUIT AGAINST ANY OF THE RELEASED PARTIES, EXCEPT FOR ANY LIABILITY BASED UPON THEIR GROSS NEGLIGENCE OR WANTON AND WILFULL MISCONDUCT. I CERTIFY THAT MY AGE IS ACCURATELY SET FORTH BELOW; THAT, IF I AM AT LEAST 18 YEARS OF AGE, I AM LEGALLY COMPETENT TO SIGN THIS AGREEMENT; I HAVE CAREFULLY READ THIS AGREEMENT AND UNDERSTAND THAT THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT ARE LEGALLY BINDING UPON ME AND UPON MY ASSIGNS, HEIRS, REPRESENTATIVES, EXECUTORS AND ADMINISTRATORS; AND THAT I AM SIGNING THIS AGREEMENT, AFTER HAVING CAREFULLY READ IT, OF MY OWN FREE WILL.

A photocopy hereof, or a record of this Agreement sent and received by facsimile, email or other electronic transmission, shall be enforceable and shall have full legal effect as an original.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, this Agreement is duly executed this _____ day of_____________________, 2020.

______________________________
PRINTED NAME
______________________________
SIGNATURE

 

 

 

 

In August, John MacArthur Denied COVID-19 at Grace Community Church; In April, He Said Members Had Been Hospitalized

On August 30, John MacArthur told his congregation that “nobody in our congregation has ever been to the hospital with this [COVID-19].” According to MacArthur’s own words earlier this year in April, that is not true. When MacArthur explained to Phil Johnson why Grace Community Church was not meeting in person in April, MacArthur told Johnson (entire video is here):

The other thing that we talked about with the elders was if we defy this and if we say we’re going to meet anyway, we run the risk of exposing people to this illness needlessly. And why would we want to do that? Because this is a health issue, this is a health crisis. And since like any church, many of the people in our church are older. We wouldn’t want to expose them to that. We’ve only had, as far as I know, and this was up to yesterday, we’ve only had one couple in our church in the Spanish ministry who actually got the coronavirus. But that couple, and not an older couple either, wound up in the hospital because it was such a virulent experience for them.

MacArthur acknowledged that in April they had a younger couple very sick in the hospital. This awareness helped move MacArthur and the elders toward the decision not to have indoor in-person church. MacArthur said at the time it wouldn’t be right to put people in harm’s way. Watch:

Everything MacArthur said in April is still true.  It is still a health crisis. He still doesn’t know who is in his congregation who might be infected. However, now he clearly doesn’t understand the extent of the problem. He has been telling his congregation that there is no pandemic and only .0001 of Californians have COVID-19. Because he has a false understanding of the situation, he has taken his church in a potentially dangerous change of course.

Addendum

Since this was published several anonymous communications have come in alleging more cases of COVID at Grace Community Church. I am not able to confirm them but I have learned some interesting, to me at least, additional information.

One of the elders of GCC is Jon Scott. He is a physician who practices at a Kaiser Permanente location in Santa Clarita. In March, that same location was closed due to concerns over COVID-19. I don’t know what that means but it as a physician, surely he was aware of the ramping up of medical manpower to handle cases related to COVID-19.

Since I discovered the video from April, I have wondered how Pastor MacArthur became radicalized so to speak. How did he come to mouth QAnon talking points about the coronavirus? Today, I found this from a communication from him in May:

I noticed today that a report came out from the CDC which is the official group the Center for Disease Control, and they said that actually the number of deaths that have occurred during this COVID epidemic is half of what has been recorded, half. So we have been operating with numbers that are unrealistic. It has also come to light – and I think this is very, very interesting – it’s also come to light that half of the deaths occur to people in hospitals and aging homes where you have older people, because they’re the more vulnerable population. So the reality is that the vast majority of the population is really unaffected or mildly affected by this entire thing. The most dangerous place you could ever go turns out would be a hospital, because when you go into a hospital the staff there don’t have a vaccine against this. They’re exposed to it. And if there are other compromised patients, as there are in a crowded hospital, then the coronavirus is circulated in that hospital.

So we’re starting to learn that the folks who are just out in the world doing what we do, we’re the safest of all. The place you don’t want to be is, of all places, in a hospital, because that’s where the highest incidents of this infection at its most serious level takes place. So a lot of things coming out of this that I think are starting to remove the fear and help us to understand that we were told some things that just were not true about the affect of this.

By this logic, you could say you catch cancer at the hospital. That’s where the serious cancer is. Don’t go to the hospital if you have a stroke, you will just get worse. After all, that’s where the most serious stroke patients are.  In fact, if you avoid the hospital, by this way of thinking, you can avoid all kinds of awful things people have in hospitals. People die there.

Clearly his thinking began to change here as the quality of his sources and information deteriorated.

The latest I heard, and I heard a report today from a highly respected medical authority who basically said the death rate will be essentially the same as seasonal flu, no greater than that. We now know that. And in retrospect we would say if we’d known that at the beginning we certainly wouldn’t have shut the world down to the degree that we have and did such disastrous damage to so many lives. But having said that, we have to understand that the Lord allows certain things and certain things are the foolishness of men even at their best efforts; so here we are. But I just want to remind you that this is temporary, that this is not nearly as deadly as we were told, that the rate of death is about like the seasonal flu, it’ll run its course; and hopefully in a few weeks, we’ll come back together and we’ll join each other again and have a great celebration.

Estimates of death rates have varied widely but his certainty about his expert is misplaced. One of the best studies of fatality was conducted via random sampling in Indiana and found that COVID is indeed more deadly than the flu. MacArthur now seems so entrenched in his mindset that he may not be able to back away from the conspiratorial place he has gone.

John MacArthur Plans to Hold Church in Defiance of Court Injunction; Keeps Using Wrong COVID-19 Stats

On Fox News Thursday night, John MacArthur said he is planning to have church on Sunday despite the California Superior Court preliminary injunction barring indoor church. Watch:

In addition to appearing to promise to defy the court order, he again said only .01% of Californians have had COVID-19.

A statistic: One one hundredth of one percent of Californians have COVID, that’s the number and yet no one in the entire state of California is allowed to go inside a church. Doesn’t make sense.

As of September 11, California has 755,714 COVID-19 cases. With a population of just under 40-million, 1.9% of Californians have COVID-19. I have twice asked the public relations firm representing Grace for the source of MacArthur’s misinformation but with no reply.

Click here for all posts on L.A. County v. Grace Community Church

 

California Superior Court Prohibits Indoor Worship at Grace Community Church (UPDATED)

KNX 1070 Radio is reporting that Judge Mitchell Beckloff issued an injunction today that prevents Grace Community Church from engaging in indoor worship services.

Read Judge Beckloff’s Injunction

Read Judge Beckloff’s Ruling on the Injunction

L.A. County had sought an injunction against the church for refusing to abide by the County’s Health Order banning indoor worship services. Grace Community Church had been having such services without following masking and social distancing guidelines for over a month.

L.A. County issued this statement to me:

We are grateful that the Court has granted the County’s request for a preliminary injunction and upheld the County’s Health Officer Orders temporarily prohibiting indoor religious services during this time of widespread community transmission of COVID-19. Religious services are central to many of our residents’ lives, especially in these trying times, and services have been allowed to be held online and outdoors with physical distancing and the use of face coverings, and they may continue to do so. The issue is a reminder that we must all work together and modify our activities to contain and slow this virus, which has caused the death of more than 6,000 Los Angeles County residents and has made thousands of others gravely ill.

We went to court only after significant efforts to work with the leaders of Grace Community Church to protect public health. We now look forward to working with church leaders on a plan to move services outdoors with physical distancing and the use of face coverings, which will allow worshipers to gather for religious observances in a manner that is lower risk and consistent with public health directives. This protects worshipers and the entire County community.

On August 30, MacArthur told his congregation that there is no pandemic and doubled down on that claim the following Sunday. Then, he falsely claimed that only “one hundredth of one percent” CA residents had COVID. The percentage as of now is 1.8%.

Grace Church issued a press release after I published this post. Here is most of it with comments from the attorneys and John MacArthur.

Special Counsel Charles LiMandri said, “We are disappointed in the ruling on the preliminary injunction as the court did not apply the strict scrutiny analysis to the government order that we believe is required by the California Constitution and legal precedent. The court also did not properly consider the medical and scientific evidence that the current number of people with serious COVID-19 symptoms no longer justifies a shuttering of the churches. Nor do we believe that the court gave adequate consideration to the fact that churches have been treated as second-class citizens compared to the tens of thousands of protestors. More than ever, California’s churches are essential. Therefore, we plan to appeal this ruling to ultimately vindicate our clients’ constitutionally protected right to free exercise of religion.”

Special Counsel Jenna Ellis said, “Although this is a temporary setback, we will continue to fight for Pastor MacArthur and Grace Community Church’s constitutionally protected right to hold church. While the judge did go out of his way to repeatedly state that he is not ruling on the merits, only a ruling at this very preliminary stage, Pastor MacArthur is still harmed because he has every right to hold church. Church is essential, and no government agent has the runaway, unlimited power to force churches to close indefinitely. The County’s argument was basically ‘because we can,’ which is the very definition of tyranny. Without limiting government’s power in favor of freedom and protected rights, we have no liberty. We will fight for religious freedom, as our founders did when they wrote the First Amendment.”

Pastor John MacArthur said, “In an inexplicable ruling, the judge said the ‘scale tipped in favor of the county.’ 1/100th of 1% of Californians with a virus apparently wins over the U.S. Constitution and religious freedom for all? That is not what our founders said. Nor is that what God says, who gave us our rights that our government—including the judicial branch—is supposed to protect. The scale should always tip in favor of liberty, especially for churches.”

It is baffling to me where MacArthur is getting his “1/100th of 1%” figure. If he was accurate, CA would only have 4,000 cases. Instead, CA has just over 749,000 cases for about 1.9% of the population. He has yet to respond to my requests about this claim or others he made this past Sunday.

While there is no hint in these statements about what MacArthur and Grace will do Sunday, there is no indication he will back off. The next scheduled hearing is October 22.

See all posts on L.A. County v. Grace Community Church here. 

L.A. County Fines Grace Community Church for Signage Infraction

Claiming the church’s signs were misplaced, L.A. County fined Grace Community Church $1000.

Grace Community posted signs warning people not to enter if they have symptoms of disease and claiming the church has no responsibility if sickness occurs. Here is what church attorney Jenna Ellis showed on Twitter.

The sign says:

By entering the Grace Community Church campus, you assume the risk of contracting COVID-19, and you agree that the church cannot be held responsible if that happens. Please do not enter if you have an elevated temperature, a cough, or any flu-like symptoms.

Strange, I thought John MacArthur preached that worry over COVID-19 was a part of a plot to deceive the church.

In any case, the signs are up around the church but they must not be where the Health Order prescribes them to be. It appears that L.A. County is working up to a more strict enforcement of the Health Order, perhaps hoping that MacArthur will see the light. Given his recent stance that there is no pandemic, I doubt he is going to change his position.

John MacArthur Doubles Down on No Pandemic Claim

In his sermon today at Grace Community Church, pastor John MacArthur told his congregation that his claim last week that there is no COVID-19 pandemic was not made off the cuff. He said again that by the CDC definition of a pandemic there is no pandemic. Watch:

MacArthur is making yet another common mistake by referring to the number of COVID-19 cases as compared to the population of California. This is not how epidemiologists think about the lethality of a disease. You compare the number of deaths to the number of cases to get the mortality rate.

MacArthur said that the definition of a pandemic is that “1 to 3% of the people die.” By his definition of a pandemic (1 to 3% of the population), the Spanish Flu epidemic would not have counted as such because less than one percent of the American population died. According to the CDC website, 675,000 Americans died during the 1918-1919 season. With a population of 104.5-million in 1919, well under 1% died (.65%).

MacArthur also said the number of people who have COVID in California is “one hundredth of one percent out of 40 million. That’s not a death statistic, that’s a COVID statistic.” Currently, the number of cases in CA stands at 735,742. Given the population of just less than 40-million people in CA, the percentage of the population with a positive COVID diagnosis is a little over 1.8%. Even if the calculation used active cases (373,175), the percentage is .94% or almost 1%.

I need to research this a bit more but so far the only definition on the CDC website of a pandemic I found is this one:

Pandemic refers to an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people. Epidemics occur when an agent and susceptible hosts are present in adequate numbers, and the agent can be effectively conveyed from a source to the susceptible hosts.

MacArthur also said that Grace is the only church in CA allowed to meet indoors. I question that interpretation. The court has declined to issue a court order to require Grace to comply with L.A. County’s Health Order but has told L.A. County that the County may enforce the Health Order forbidding indoor meeting. L.A. County has chosen not to enforce the order.

In any case, the court is set to rule this week on the injunction with L.A. County as the plaintiff  in the case.