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Beliefnet News

Starbucks bows to pressure, withdraws from Christian event

“Homosexual activists have once again pressured the head of a trendy company heavily patronized by the ‘gay’ community to back out of a scheduled speaking engagement sponsored by a Christian organization,” writes Dave Bohon writing in the New American.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was booked to speak August 12 at the annual Global Leadership Summit sponsored by the Chicago-based mega-church Willow Creek.

“The annual event draws tens of thousands of viewers via satellite,” noted the Chicago Sun-Times, and boasts such past speakers as former President Bill Clinton, General Electric CEO Jack Welch, and rock-star-turned-humanitarian Bono.

But when homosexual rights activists caught wind that Schultz had agreed to address summit attendees about “How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul,” they turned to one of their favorite activist tools, the liberal petition clearinghouse website, to demand that Schultz renege on his commitment, reports Bohon.


He writes:

According to the Chicago Tribune, an “activist” by the name of Asher Huey had “criticized Schultz for agreeing to appear at a church with a long-standing membership in Exodus International, a ministry that believes homosexual behavior is destructive and Christians can ‘grow into heterosexuality.’”

Ironically, Willow Creek had actually cut its ties with Exodus International in 2009, after the church’s pastor, Bill Hybels, met with SoulForce, a group of gay professing Christians, which encouraged Hybels to take a softer approach toward the homosexual lifestyle. Nonetheless, Huey marshaled some 700 signatures on the petition targeting Schultz, accusing Willow Creek of having a “long history of anti-gay persecution.”


The assault on Schultz had the desired effect. As reported by Christianity Today, “Gina Woods, director of executive communications for Starbucks, apparently left a message on the petition page: ‘I work for Starbucks in Communications. I wanted to let you all know that Howard is not speaking at Willow Creek. The conference web site has just not been updated.’ ”

While Starbucks refused to confirm that Schultz had backed out of the speaking engagement based on the pressure by homosexual activists, Baptist Press News reported that Willow Creek had “let Schultz out of his contract without penalty after discussing the petition with him.”

Hybels said that he and Jim Mellado, a member of Willow Creek’s leadership team, “spent 45 minutes in a very constructive conversation with the senior leaders at Starbucks explaining to them in no uncertain terms that Willow is not anti-gay. But at the end of the day they decided that the downside business risk was just too high for them.”


As to the charge leveled by the homosexual activists, Hybels insisted that “Willow Creek is not anti-anybody. It’s founded on the idea that all people matter to God. We don’t check orientation at the door.”

However, as reported by UPI News, Hybels explained that his church continues to take a biblical approach to the issue of homosexuality. “We challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in scriptures,” he explained, “which encourage sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage.”

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