Exodus International released a statement Tuesday expressing sadness that popular communicator and radio talk show host Dawson McAllister chose to remove Exodus from its referral list over a gay flap.
"If Dawson McAllister was a secular, non-Christian leader, his priorities would make sense," stated Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, which claims to be the largest Christian referral and information network dealing with homosexual issues in the world.
"But if he serves the One who warned 'Woe unto you when all men speak well of you,' and follows in the steps of the Apostle who said, 'If I seek the favor of men, I should not be a servant of Jesus Christ,' then his response to pressure from gay activists and Clear Channel is distressing."
The controversy began on April 11 when 22-year-old Greg Kimball called McAllister's "HopeLine" – an off-air hotline where youth are able to discuss their problems with a trained staff member.
Kimball, who listened to Dawson McAllister on Kiss 108 in Boston on some Sunday nights, posed as a 16-year-old who thought he might be gay in order to see how the show handled calls involving someone questioning his sexuality.
The Swampscott, Mass., student was appalled by the questions and advice offered by the HopeLine representative. He was asked whether he was raised religiously and was told that if he embraced God, he could be cured, Kimball recounted in his blog. The representative also compared homosexuality to alcoholism or pornography or drug addiction.
Kimball chose to call again after the 20-minute conversation that infuriated him to get a hold of a different representative. The second time around, he was referred to Exodus International.
Gay rights groups, including GLAAD, complained to Clear Channel Communications about the Dawson McAllister Live radio program, which airs on over 140 stations across the country.
"We reminded the company that its corporate diversity policies were in direct conflict with the dangerous anti-gay information McAllister Live representatives were handing out," GLAAD stated.
Following the complaints, Clear Channel expressed to the producers of the radio show that listeners who call the HopeLine "be treated in a manner consistent with our corporate commitments to diversity."
The Dawson McAllister Association reviewed its training for HopeLine volunteers and removed Exodus from its referral system and from its website.
Chambers stressed that his esteem for Dawson is not in question. In fact, McAllister was the one who referred Chambers, a former homosexual, to Exodus at the age of 19.
"Dawson McAllister was the catalyst for my journey, which eventually led me to direct the organization he’s now unwilling to officially associate with," Chambers explained.
While still respectful of the radio host and youth communicator, Chambers said it was "troubling to see any Christian-led organization allow itself to be guided by the demands of pro-gay advocates."
"While Exodus is the group being marginalized in this case, it’s the freedom to express a traditional viewpoint of sexuality that’s really at stake, raising the obvious question: Who’s Next? Should all on-air ministries who teach that homosexuality falls short of God’s will expect a knock on the door, demanding they either water it down or close shop?" the Exodus president stated.
"When a Christian leader is forced to choose between truth and market numbers, should market numbers really be the deciding factor?"
McAllister's CEO told Chambers that only one percent of their callers over the past 15 months had phoned in with the issue of sexual identity.
"Should we forsake the 99 percent for the one percent?" he asked, according to Chambers.
For Chambers, the answer is yes.
"Had he remembered the parable of the lost sheep, in which a good shepherd left the 99 for the one, he might have answered his own question."
McAllister has spoken to millions of teenagers and young adults through television, student conferences and radio. He gives advice to youth who struggle with such issues as broken families, abuse and addiction. He started his radio career in Christian radio and in 2005 made the switch to Top 40 mainstream radio.