In 1990, a high school senior attended a conference led by Dawson McAllister, who was then a prominent speaker at Christian youth gatherings.
"There is a young man sitting in the audience who thinks he is gay," McAllister told the audience. "He's been molested. He thinks the only way out is suicide. If that is you, I want to talk to you."
The student, convinced that McAllister was talking specifically about him, went forward and was referred to what is now Exchange Ministries in Orlando, an affiliate of Exodus International. Eventually, the student—Alan Chambers—became the president of Exodus.
So when, last week, McAllister announced that he was severing ties with Exodus due to pressure from his radio network, Chambers took the news personally.
"Dawson McAllister was the catalyst for my journey, which eventually led me to direct the organization he's now unwilling to officially associate with. Could the irony be any more bitter?" Chambers wrote in a blog post on the Exodus website. "[W]e wonder what other biblical truths are up for negotiation when on-air visibility is at stake."
The dustup was prompted by a 22-year-old college student's blog post about calling in to McAllister's nationally syndicated radio show, posing as a 16-year-old questioning his sexuality.
"Despicable," Greg Kimball wrote about being referred to Exodus. "Can you imagine the number of gay or questioning children that, because of this advice, have hurt of [sic] killed themselves? Who have lived a lie for the rest of the [sic] life? This makes me sick. … I called and spoke with Kiss 108 Boston's Program Director, Chris Tyler, and he stated that not only was he unaware that McAllister's show was giving out this advice, but that he was unaware the show ...