After Starbucks founder and CEO Howard
Schultz decided not to speak at a church that once supported 'ex-gay'
therapy, chairman Bill Hybels insists his church is not anti-gay.
Schultz was scheduled to deliver a talk
Friday titled How Starbucks Fought for its Life Without Losing Its
Soul during the Willow Creek Association's annual Global
Leadership Summit taking place Thursday and Friday at its South
Barrington, Illinois church headquarters. The Willow Creek Community
Church has 6 Illinois campuses.
Starbucks confirmed that Schultz had
withdrawn from the summit, but denied the about face had anything to
do with a Change.org petition launched last week that asked Schultz
to repudiate the church's connection with the “ex-gay” group
Exodus believes gay men and lesbians
can – and should – alter their sexuality. The group says this
can be achieved through “reparative” therapy, the discredited
pseudo-science that opponents say confuses shaming gay people into
being celibate with conversion and creates real psychological harm.
Willow says it cut ties with Exodus in
At the summit, Pastor Bill Hybels
insisted that his church is not anti-gay and added that he would
attempt to mediate a meeting with the people behind the Change.org
“This whole thing is sad to me on a
number of different levels. If the organizers of this petition had
simply taken the time to call us, we would have explained to them, as
we have to many others, that Willow is not only not anti-gay, Willow
is not anti-anybody,” Hybels said to a thunderous applause.
But later, Hybels conceded that gay
church members are expected to remain celibate.
“What is true is that we challenge
homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in
the scriptures, which encourages full sexual expression between a man
and a woman in the context of marriage and prescribes sexual
abstinence and purity for everybody else.” (The video is embedded
in the right panel of this page.)