When Willow Creek Community Church’s quiet decision to break ties with ex-gay organization Exodus International surfaced recently, the church earned itself the ire of Illinois hate group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality [the one that famously lost its tax-exempt status in 2010]. AFTAH is calling the decision of its fellow Christians at Willow Creek “unbiblical.” In the organization’s blog, Americans for Truth, the group called for a vigil outside the church on August 11-12 to protest the “puzzling disassociation,” with leader Peter LaBarbera calling it a “stunning capitulation to the gay lobby.” [They disapprove, too, of Willow Creek’s having brought in other “heretical teachers,” like Tony Blair.]
Willow Creek isn’t the only big church to have broken ties with Exodus recently, as Ex-Gay Watch has reported. And in another humiliation for Exodus, the government of New Zealand declined to allow Exodus tax-exempt status last year; a commission there said “the trust was not performing any public benefit because homosexuality was not a mental disorder and did not need curing.” Inspired, the New Democratic Party in Canada, according the blog Slap Upside the Head, introduced a resolution at its convention in June to deny tax-exempt status to ex-gay organizations, too.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that its distancing itself from Exodus means Willow Creek is beginning to accept homosexuality. It isn’t. When Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made news after he changed his mind and decided not to address the church, its pastor, Reverend Bill Hybels, made haste to clarify Willow Church’s views. The church “challenges” people “to live out the sexual ethics taught in scriptures”: marry the opposite sex, or else “maintain sexual abstinence and purity.” Sounds familiar. What’s Peter LaBarbera so upset about?