Thinking Out Loud

December 6, 2013

Janet Mefferd Removes Plagiarism-Related Driscoll Material, Senior Producer Resigns

Without actually retracting any of the substance of her allegations, U.S. talk show host Janet Mefferd has withdrawn all of her posts related to the charges of plagiarism she brought against Seattle author and pastor Mark Driscoll because of the manner in which she brought those charges publicly.

A transcript of the apology from her radio show reports her saying,

…I feel now that in retrospect, I should have conducted myself in a better way. I now realize the interview should not have occurred at all. I should have contacted Tyndale House directly to alert them to the plagiarism issue. And I never should have brought it to the attention of listeners publicly…

But also acknowledges that the subsequent publicity has been overwhelming:

…I didn’t anticipate that the story would go viral online the way it did and creating such dissension with the Christian community was never my aim. And so in an effort to right things as best as I can, I have now removed all of the materials related to the interview off my website, and also off my social media.

I’m not sure how removing the source documents “rights” things. I live in Canada, in a society which has in more recent years been labeled with the stereotype of a nation that is “polite” and “always apologizing.” True or not, this Canadian believes that if you make a statement, you have to own it. What you say is either true or it isn’t. If it was worth saying in the first place, it’s worth holding to. It’s what I think Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:37 when he tells us to you “Let your yes be yes.”

Perhaps that is what drove Ingrid Schlueter, a senior producer for Mefferd’s radio show to resign on Thursday with this statement:

I was a part-time, topic producer for Janet Mefferd until yesterday when I resigned over this situation. All I can share is that there is an evangelical celebrity machine that is more powerful than anyone realizes. You may not go up against the machine. That is all. Mark Driscoll clearly plagiarized and those who could have underscored the seriousness of it and demanded accountability did not. That is the reality of the evangelical industrial complex.

In a later post she said,

Being limited in what I can share, let me just say that truth tellers face multiple pressure sources these days. I hosted a radio show for 23 years and know from experience how Big Publishing protects its celebrities. Anything but fawning adulation for those who come on your show (a gift of free air time for the author/publisher by the way) is not taken well… The easiest thing in the world is to do fluffy interviews with fluffy guests on fluffy books. So hats off to those like Janet who have the courage to ask at all. And my own opinion on Mr. Driscoll is that despite the bravado, despite the near silence of his Reformed peers and enablers, his brand is damaged, and damaged by his own hand.

The link above is to Warren Throckmorton’s blog, which in turn links to Spiritual Sound Board, where Ingrid Schlueter’s comments may have been removed subsequently. Throckmorton claims he had permission to use them.

This story is BOILING HOT, and it’s possible that this blog will receive a request to take down this story before day’s end.

I personally believe that Tyndale House founder, and Living Bible writer Ken Taylor would not have tolerated even a hint of plagiarism for a single minute. As both a blogger and someone who has worked in the arena of Christian publishing for 35 years, I am concerned for this and other reasons that Tyndale House may be evidencing a state of moral and ethical decline.

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