Starbucks CEO cancels church speech

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Starbucks' chief executive cancelled a high-profile church appearance after an online protest over the congregation's views on homosexuality.

A Starbucks spokeswoman says Howard Schultz will not appear this week at the The Global Leadership Summit, but she wouldn't say more. The annual conference is organized by Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago.

However, Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels said at the event Thursday that Schultz withdrew after an online petition claimed the church was anti-gay and called Schultz' participation unacceptable.

Hybels insisted the megachurch is not anti-gay. Two years ago, Willow Creek cut ties with Exodus International, which offers to help gays become heterosexual.

The Leadership Summit is a prominent annual conference that in the past has included former President Bill Clinton, GE's Jack Welch and rock singer Bono.