The chief executive of Starbucks has cancelled a talk at an anti-gay mega-church.

Howard Schultz, who is also the coffee chain’s president and chairman, was due to speak at the 2011 Leadership Summit at Illinois-based Willow Creek Church, held this week.

A Change.org petition calling for him to cancel garnered more than 700 signatures. It said that the church has a “long anti-gay history” and that it has “practiced [sic] dangerous conversion therapy to ‘cure’ people of their sexual orientation”.

The Rev Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Church, announced yesterday that Mr Schultz would not longer appear, citing the petition.

Speaking yesterday, he said: “If the organisers of this petition had simply taken the time to call us, we would have explained to them as we have to many others that Willow is not only not anti-gay, Willow is not anti-anybody.”

But he added: “Now, what is true is that we challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in the scriptures which encourages full sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage and prescribes sexual abstinence and purity for everybody else.”

Willow Creek Church recently severed ties with ‘gay cure’ group Exodus International.

Starbucks is currently investigating alleged discrimination against a gay employee in Long Island.