Pastor: Willow Creek church not anti-gay

Aug. 12, 2011 at 11:32 AM

CHICAGO, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The pastor of a suburban Chicago mega-church says it isn't anti-gay -- it doesn't accept any sex outside of marriage, gay or heterosexual.

"We challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in scriptures, which encourage sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage," said the Rev. Bill Hybels, senior pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church.

Hybels, in a Chicago Tribune report Friday, said the Bible calls for "sexual abstinence and purity for everyone."

Hybels made his comments at the South Barrington, Ill., church's annual leadership conference after Howard Schultz, chief executive officer of Starbucks Coffee Co., bowed out of the event following a petition posted at change.org that called on Schultz to denounce Willow Creek's stance on gays. Some 800 people signed the petition.

Earlier this year Starbucks said it had "zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind" after a gay East Coast barista claimed he was fired and berated for discussing his personal life.

The petition's organizer, Asher Huey, a Democratic strategist in Washington, said Willow Creek "has a long history of anti-gay persecution," something Hybels denies.

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