Did John MacArthur visit the Lorraine Motel in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Several times since at least 2007, MacArthur has claimed that he was with civil rights icons John Perkins and Charles Evers as they traveled to Memphis in the hours after MLK’s murder. MacArthur added that he stood on the balcony where King was shot and visited the house where James Earl Ray fired the shots, all within hours of the assassination. A February 4 NOQ Reports article skeptically addressed this matter using an interview with civil rights icon Charles Evers as contradicting evidence. In the report, Evers denied he went to Memphis that night.
The NOQ Reports article quickly came under fire. Critics claimed it was biased and omitted some critical information. Due to the controversy and as a matter of historical interest, I became curious about the story and asked Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You (MacArthur’s teaching ministry), for additional clarification of several of the issues. He suggested I interview John Perkins.
Although it took several weeks for us to connect, I was able today to speak to Deborah Perkins, one of John Perkins’ daughters, who said she was empowered to speak for her father on this matter. I asked if John Perkins had gone to Memphis within hours of MLK’s murder. She said, “That’s not a comment we can offer a comment on.” She added spontaneously, “Charles Evers has already commented on that. He already said that wasn’t right.” I asked, “So, do you think Charles Evers’ statement is accurate?” Ms. Perkins said, “Yes, Charles Evers’ statement is accurate if he made it.”
Ms. Perkins said that John MacArthur was a friend of Dr. Perkins and that was all they wanted to say, but added that Charles Evers was accurate in what he said about the situation.
To make sure that I understood Charles Evers’ position and that he did indeed make the statement attributed to him in the February report, I called and talked to him. He repeated his claim that he did not remember John MacArthur, and he did not remember going to Memphis that night. He added that he might have gone to Memphis sometime after the murder but he didn’t remember for sure, and he didn’t remember going with MacArthur.
I asked for response or comment from Johnson and Rev. MacArthur (through Johnson), but they didn’t response by the time I published this. I will be happy to add any response they offer.
Without a lengthier interview with Dr. Perkins, I still don’t know in detail what happened that night or if there was ever a trip to Memphis (within a week, a month?). Perhaps everybody involved has a fuzzy memory for the events of the time.
In summary, when John Perkins’ representative had the chance to confirm John MacArthur’s story, she declined to comment; then she spontaneously affirmed the accuracy of the person who said MacArthur’s story wasn’t true. This is what I can offer at this time. What it means is surely in the eye of the beholder.