Janet Mefferd Interviews Wade Burleson on Sexual Abuse

"Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime."

Herbert Ward


Face In The Shadow

Janet Mefferd, a syndicated Christian radio talk show host (featured on the Salem Radio Network), has been proactive in addressing abuse within the body of Christ.  For those not familiar with Janet, here is her bio:

"The Janet Mefferd Show takes a distinctively Christ-centered look at the news and events of the day, both in the church and in the world.  A former news and religion reporter and editor for newspapers including The Dallas Morning News and the Daily Herald, Janet also has more than 20 years of Christian broadcasting experience, with her career taking her from Alaska to Chicago to Dallas.

Her local program on KWRD-FM in Dallas quickly went into syndication and is now heard daily on over 100 stations across the nation. Janet has been described as “A breath of fresh air for Christian radio.” And with her wealth of experience in broadcast and print journalism, Janet’s show—in syndication since February 2010—is destined for long-term impact within the Christian world."

Since the filing of the class action lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries and key individuals, Mefferd has interviewed two of the plaintiff's attorneys, namely Susan Burke (link) and Bill O'Neil (link).

Earlier today she had a brief chat with Brent Detwiler regarding SGM's First Amendment defense and its motion for dismissal (link)

Just yesterday Janet Mefferd wrote the following on her Facebook account:

"This is beyond belief … "Sovereign Grace Ministries says in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit that Maryland courts can't get involved in the internal affairs of church business."

Then she linked to the NBC story.  

We were pleased to learn that on Valentine's Day Mefferd interviewed Wade Burleson regarding the 'ever-rising tide of sex-abuse scandals'.  Here is an excerpt from her show summary:

Show Summary – Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Evangelical churches continue to see an ever-rising tide of sex-abuse scandals, resulting in everything from arrests to class-action lawsuits. What is the biblical way for Christians to respond? Janet will get some thoughts from Wade Burleson, senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma."

We encourage you to listen to this informative twenty minute interview regarding sexual abuse in the church.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Mefferd:  "What are your thoughts on some of these recent scandals that we've been seeing?" 

Burleson:  "Well, my thoughts are like yours, they're sad, sickening, horrific, awful.  I'm not sure that the problem is any more in the church than it is in the secular world.  I think the problem is secrecy within the church and coordinated efforts to … forgive the perpetrators and to basically protect the abusers and that's what's so sickening to me…"

Mefferd:  "Why do you think it is we're seeing so many of these incidents today…?"   

Burleson:  "…I think in the church the reason it is an issue is this awful notion of authority – the idea that one man, the pastor, or a group of men, the elders, have authority over you, and you do what they say, and I think over time if you've got a man or a group of men who are telling people to be quiet and not say anything, then cases just simply multiply and then all of a sudden they explode whereas if you're in a group or a family where you don't have that problem of authority, then you might have an issue but you catch it immediately and you deal with it."

Mefferd:  "What about the issue of lawsuits in general because there are Christians who look at some of these lawsuits that have been filed and think, come on now, we know what Paul had to say, what the Word has to say about filing lawsuits against one another and the effect on the witness of the church.  What do you think about these Christians who tried for so long apparently to get reaction from the church and ultimately decided the only way we're gonna get justice here is by going to court?  

Burleson:  "To appeal to 1 Corinthians, to basically stifle any type of legal recourse is bogus in my opinion.  And the reason is the courts have been established and ordained by God, so officials, police, courts in a secular society are as much ordained by God as a church, and if you don't get any recourse within a church on a criminal matter, the courts become the place where you resolve it, and so I would just simply say if a person who has been abused or has children who have been abused and they go to church officials and they expose the abuse and church officials do nothing about it and cover it up, I would say they are obligated by God to go to the courts, so I would take the opposite position – they must sue."

Mefferd:  "How do we create churches that will understand the sheep should be cared for? We go back to Jesus' words to Peter – How do you know that you love me? – Feed my sheep, take care of my sheep."

Burleson:  "I say to my staff all the time, don't you ever forget 'pastor' is a verb, not a noun.  If you realize that your calling is to serve and it's not a position, then I think the sheep become important."

Then Wade Burleson offered this toward the end of the interview:

Burleson:   "We work with sex offenders in Celebrate Recovery, a program in our church, and we have those who worship, but when someone who's been convicted of a sexual crime is being ministered to in our church, we write a letter saying they are welcome to come, then we post their picture, we post their crime, and we distribute it to every person who is an employee or a servant in the church who's working with other people and say this is the person that's coming, this is what he did, you need to know his face, you need to know his name, you need to identify him, you need to love him, but he is never to be alone in any room with any person.  And you know people have been upset with that.  Why would you do that?  And we tell the sex offender, that's the consequence of the choice you made when you abused a child. And so that's what we do."  

We are grateful that Pastor Burleson provided this detailed response regarding how his church handles sex offenders.  His remarks appear to be timely because it has recently been purported that some in Sovereign Grace congregations are/were not aware that there are sex offenders in their midst.  We would like to get clarification on whether these individuals who are 'under the radar' in SGM churches are 'registered sex offenders'.  Can anyone confirm this? 

In the meantime, we believe congregations that follow Wade Burleson's advice regarding how to handle sex offenders can avoid the legal nightmare that now haunts SGM leaders. 

Lydia's Corner:   Joshua 9:3-10:43   Luke 16:19-17:10   Psalm 83:1-18   Proverbs 13:4


Janet Mefferd Interviews Wade Burleson on Sexual Abuse — 31 Comments

  1. SGM would be wise to heed Wade Burleson’s advice. I was horrified to learn yesterday that there is a registered sex offender who molested a 5 year-old who is currently an usher at my former church (CrossWay Charlotte). He was there when we were there and he is still there. I asked someone who is still at CrossWay if they recognized his face. He did. I asked if he had heard anything about him being a sex offender. He had not. NO ONE KNEW except the pastors and a few of their chosen ones. They did not inform us as care group leaders or as parents. I was involved in children’s ministry and oversaw the bathroom monitors (security for kids during church) and I was not informed. My husband was a team leader on the church’s security team and he says he doesn’t recall ever being informed.

  2. Yes, it is an excellent article, Dee! You covered all the important points. I’ve tweeted it and shared it on Facebook.

  3. Marge,

    All I can say is –

    A word to the wise is sufficient; fools have to be convinced.

    It’s one of my hubby’s favorite sayings, and it definitely applies with regard to your comment.

  4. Wade’s thoughts are quite interesting to me. Since this SGM scandal started, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the church and society in general responds to sexual abusers. It’s nice to see a pastor who puts the needs of the victims first, assures that the right people are informed, and then continues to minister to the perpetrator.

  5. Deb

    That was OUR post. Thanks.

    You were the one who found the donations to SBTS. You also shared in the "character assassins" incident.

  6. Re: CrossWay and possible pedophile as usher.

    I have spoken with David at CrossWay and asked him directly about the situation. I told him that he had the opportunity to confirm, deny or not comment.

    He said that he does not have the authority to do so and would speak with the one who does. If they wish to comment, they will return my call. I told him that if they say this is a lie, i would deal with it.

    Hopefully, they will show some transparency in this situation.

  7. Marge Sweigart wrote:

    I asked if he had heard anything about him being a sex offender. He had not. NO ONE KNEW except the pastors and a few of their chosen ones.

    Oh, I’m sure the Pastors and their Court Favorites/Pets were taking steps to safeguard THEIR children.

    “All Animals are Equal
    — G.Orwell, Animal Farm (Urra Comrade Napoleon!)

  8. Gavel Gamma: “A Funny Thing Happened On ‘The Way’ ‘To Church’?”

    Bravo! ‘Pastor’ (…a Verb) Wade, Bravo!

    Thanx Wartburg!

    His eye is ever upon da sparrow!

    (so is yours…)


    Ever Reading, Studying, Praying and Applying God’s Word!

    He is ever faithful!



    P.S. Have certain pastoral men placed themselves in a proverbial ‘Jezebel bed’ with da proverbial C.J. ?

    P.P.S. Have some long anticipated C.J.’s departure from the church scene, delivered up to the civil beagles and judged, with the distinct possibility of being shredded and malled in the streets of public opinion; Oh, what pride will do to a man?!?

    Mock God?


    I’ze donna think so.

    Yet, what will become of the proverbial faux ‘pastoral’ men who ‘scheme’ to render the SBC a putrid pack of Calvinesta clones?

    Gotz Roachez?


    Somebuddy turn on da LIGHT!

    bedder yet…


    “BugMan, Oh! My BugMan…”


  9. dee wrote:

    Re: CrossWay and possible pedophile as usher.

    I have spoken with David at CrossWay and asked him directly about the situation. I told him that he had the opportunity to confirm, deny or not comment.

    He said that he does not have the authority to do so and would speak with the one who does. If they wish to comment, they will return my call. I told him that if they say this is a lie, i would deal with it.

    Hopefully, they will show some transparency in this situation.


    I just want to say that I am overwhelmed by your tireless and dogged pursuit of the truth. Your efforts are truly a blessing.

  10. Marge, I’m not familiar with all of the SGM churches’ names, but since I think Crossway Charlotte is one of them, could you give Susan Burke this information? The defense claims these cover ups no longer occur.

  11. JeffT,

    Some years ago I learned through a personal experience how passionate Dee is about pursuing the truth.  She is fearless, and I ALWAYS want her on my side.  

    Woe to those who come into her crosshairs…

  12. @ dee:
    I hope so, too, Dee. And thank you so much for following up.

    My husband spoke with someone this morning who is currently on the security team. He says that the team has been informed about the offender. So they must’ve let security know at some point after we left (which was 2 months after Brent’s documents came out in 2011). Nevertheless, I know the man was a member there when we were still members and we were serving in various capacities and knew nothing about it.

    Also, yesterday I asked a friend of mine who left CrossWay about 6 months ago if she knew about the offender, and she knew nothing. She has a young child and was very disturbed that this information had not been shared with the church.

    The person who initially told me about it only knew of the offender because she happened to be looking at the sex offender registry over a year ago and saw the familiar face. Of course, she was alarmed because she knew the man was an usher in the church.

  13. I guess what bothers me the most also is that they don’t think they have to be held accountable. They have handled things wrong and they need to know that and be corrected. But because they feel they have ultimate authority over their members, they should not be questioned or corrected. That is the biggest problem here and we will keep on seeing problems with abuse until that right there is corrected. It is disgusting what has happened, these leaders need to admit they handled this wrong and stand corrected and change, the problem is they won’t! They will keep explaining away that there are just people who are out to get them, trying to slander them, that is what they will say to their congregations to keep them under their control. They will keep digging themselves deeper and deeper.

    Have any of you ever watched the Veggie Tales, The Fib Monster? This churches and the congregation keep ignoring the Huge Monster, Elephant in the room. They just keep scooting over in their pews and make room for him!

  14. @ Marge Sweigart:

    Marge –

    This is just so sad. What is the big need for secrecy? The man is on the national sex registry — it is no secret. Why not let people know in the church who need to be aware?

  15. Pingback: Janet Mefferd Interviews Wade Burleson on Sexual Abuse via The Wartburg Watch | The Reformed Traveler's Research

  16. I’ve listened to enough of Mefferd’s show (archived online) to get an idea of where she stands on issues.

    I agree with Mefferd on times on some topics, but she apparently believe in biblical gender complementarianism.

    She has had guests on her show (biblical gender complementarians) who keep railing against feminism as being the cause of all ills in society, and who worry of the influence of gender egalitarianism on Christians.

    She did one show where she expressed that she did not think women should serve in combat (it’s not a proper feminine role, according to her. Men are to protect women).

    It seems to me that how the church treats women in general, their views on gender roles, how they treat Christian women who are in abusive marriages, also colors their responses to other sorts of abuse in the church, abuse or neglect of children and other people. I see all this as being inter-connected.

  17. @ Daisy:
    I hear ya, Daisy. Janet and I wouldn’t be best friends, for sure. 😉 But I am very glad that she has picked up on the SGM story and is broadcasting it to a sector of evangelicals who might not otherwise have heard of it. She interviewed the attorney for the plaintiffs, Susan Burke, twice I believe, and she interviewed Brent Detwiler this past Thursday about the SGM debacle.

  18. @ Marge Sweigart:

    To clarify, I didn’t mean to knock Mefferd as a person (she seems nice), or using her show as a source for a story. I was just tossing some observations out there. 🙂

  19. Daisy,

    I used to hear the Mefferd broadcast in our area a while back (it’s no longer in the line-up), and it appears she has an affinity for the reformed crowd. I have to admit that it bothered me. I agree with Marge that at least she is willing to tackle the SGM debacle. Kudos to her for that!

  20. @ Deb:

    Yes, that was my impression too, that Mefford is Reformed, or sympathetic to them.

    The thing that really jumped out on me is the regular appearance on her show of the Neo Calvinist/ biblical gender role guys, who defend biblical gender roles, or who criticize biblical or secular feminism.

    She seems to agree with them that any and all forms of feminism are anti- biblical, are detrimental to American culture, and that complementarian gender roles are biblical.

    I am in agreement with Mefford on some topics, but not all. I think it’s good that she’s covering the child abuse cases in the church. I hope she one day changes her views on gender roles, though.

    Her radio program is online here.

    It looks like it’s kept current, and the program is archived. It goes back to Feb 2010 (see the side bar on the right hand side of the radio program page).