Starbucks Founder Pulls Out of Willow Creek Event
Shortly before he was scheduled to address 165,000 people at the annual Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz withdrew, thanks to a petition signed by only 700 people on the liberal website Change.org, WORLD News Service reports. The petition objects not to the purpose or content of the annual leadership summit, but to former associations of the host. Willow Creek Community Church once had a relationship with Exodus International, a Florida-based ministry that reaches out to homosexuals wishing to leave the lifestyle. Change.org called for a Starbucks boycott, calling Willow Creek “an anti-gay church” and saying that not denouncing conversion therapy “is tacit approval.” Homosexual activists have targeted a growing number of corporations working with churches and ministries on various projects. The activists call conservative Christian groups “hate groups” and the label seems to be sticking. Willow Creek Senior Pastor Bill Hybels said at the summit the church let Schultz out of his contract without penalty after discussing the petition with him. Noting Schultz “had to read through some tough e-mails,” Hybels encouraged conference attendees to send him something nicer — and to continue buying Starbucks coffee.