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December 1st, 2010
09:22 PM ET

Conservative Christians blast Apple decision to discontinue app

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN

A coalition of conservative Christian leaders blasted Apple on Wednesday for discontinuing an app the group had created because the technology giant said the app was offensive.

The Christian leaders had created the app to promote a document that urges opposition to abortion and gay marriage and support for religious liberty, among other positions.

An Apple spokeswoman confirmed the company had removed the app, which was called the Manhattan Declaration after the document it was meant to promote, from Apple's online iTunes and iPhone stores.

"It violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people," said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris, who said the app was removed last week.

The Manhattan Declaration app allowed users to sign and share the the declaration and included a four-question quiz that featured questions like "Do you support same-sex relationships?" and "Do you support the right of choice regarding abortion?"

The app computes a score for the quiz depending on how many "correct" answers a user gave.

Kerris said that Apple had heard from "large groups of people" about the app but declined to answer questions about who complained about the app and about which part or parts were deemed offensive, saying "I'd rather not got into further detail."

Prominent gay bloggers had criticized the app, focusing on the quiz.

Chuck Colson, a former aide to President Richard Nixon turned evangelical leader, said Wednesday that he was disappointed in the decision and because Apple had declined to respond to his requests for an explanation.

"If you have a public communications company, you have a responsibility to see that certain views are not suppressed," he said. "This is a dangerous thing to do in a free society."

Colson helped draft the Manhattan Declaration last year, which promoters say has garnered more than 478,000 signatures.

A spokeswoman for the declaration said Wednesday that Apple had approved and posted its app in October and that it had received a 4 plus rating for "no objectionable content."

"...Numerous attempts to have a dialogue via phone have been ignored," the spokeswoman, Michelle Farmer, said of the leaders' attempts to reach out to Apple. "Now leaders with the Manhattan Declaration are asking its supporters to get involved and pressure Jobs and Apple to reinstate the Christian app."

Colson and two other declaration drafters sent a letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Monday asking that the app be reinstated.

In an interview, Colson said that if the quiz was considered offensive, he would have it removed.

Asked whether Apple had any plans to reinstate the app, Kerris said Wednesday that she had "no further comment."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Christianity • Culture wars • Gay marriage • Technology

soundoff (285 Responses)
  1. Chris

    Ok typing error on my previous post.....SHOW them the way....

    December 2, 2010 at 8:01 am |
  2. Chris

    As a Christian I do support the removal of this app. Jesus tells us to be fishers of men....not hunters. When you go fishing you throw the bait out there and let the fish choose whether or not they want the bait. Same thing with religion. You give the people the information and who them the way but you let them decide for themselves. Its not up to us to tell someone they're going to hell just because they have a different belief.

    December 2, 2010 at 8:00 am |
  3. Phil

    The Manhattan Declaration echos 2,000 years of Christian belief, and is subscribed to by a wide range of Christians from Evangelicals to Catholics to Eastern Orthodox believers, not just a few "Bible thumpers" somewhere down South. Read it and see if you can find any bashing of any group: http://www.manhattandeclaration.org/

    Its ideas come directly from the Bible. There are many Bible apps available – should Apple ban those too? Do you people who support the removal of this app also support banning books like the Bible, upon which this app is based?

    December 2, 2010 at 7:47 am |
    • Mike, not me

      Phil, thanks for the link many of us need to read it before commenting.

      December 2, 2010 at 8:22 am |
  4. right

    LOL Conservative Christians are so laughable. Nobody's free speech has been infringed on. No wonder you always lose when you aren't smart enough to understand the battle. LOL

    December 2, 2010 at 6:39 am |
  5. Marcello

    I'm not a fan of Conservative Christians, but I'm a huge fan of free speech. Apple is proving to be just another giant corporation that silences any voice they disagree with. This is damaging to our society, and corporations like Apple need to be held accountable for their behavior.

    December 2, 2010 at 6:18 am |
  6. nuandlarry

    Christianists organizations and churches want to make sure they can keep discriminating against others without risking their tax exempt status.

    Apple paid about $4.5 billion in taxes last year.

    Why are we even listening to these religious leeches?

    December 2, 2010 at 5:19 am |
  7. Kate

    I support Apple's decision to remove this app 100% Great move Apple!

    I believe Apple would have removed an anti-christian app just as they removed this one. Apple is not siding with any specific belief except for the disagreement and disproval of any group seeking to spread hatred or complete intolerance of another group. Very wise move!

    December 2, 2010 at 5:03 am |
  8. Casey

    You people are all crazy get off of this thread and go back to your no believing lifes you losers

    December 2, 2010 at 4:57 am |
  9. Brooke

    I am very pleased with Apple's decision to do away with this offensive App. I am very tired of so-called Christian's continued attempts to trample on the rights of others, to spread their intolerance and on-going hate speech under the guise of "freedom of religion".

    December 2, 2010 at 2:40 am |
  10. George

    Jesus actually teaches us to "love your enemies.". In other words, love the sinner, but hate the sin. We are all not perfect for we all fall short of God's love. So it IS wrong for anyone to pass judgement on those who favor gay marriage and/or abortion. The best thing any Christian should do is pray for the sinner so that God may change their heart as to make it right with God.

    December 2, 2010 at 2:10 am |
  11. moe

    Its ironic that the Conservative Christians try to jam their beliefs down everyone throat but when someone takes a stand against them they feel wronged. This is how it feels you sanctimonious hateful zealots.

    December 2, 2010 at 1:39 am |
    • Mark M

      I've never understood how jamming your beliefs down my throat because I don't accept them makes you any better than those you feel are doing the same to you. I don't think this is what MLK did or Ghandi or any of the great leaders historically have done. In fact, it reminds me more of Hitler, Stalin, and the likes.

      Oh, and by the way, calling Christians names makes you seem very immature and disrespectful.

      Peace.

      December 2, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  12. Blayze Kohime

    It gets awkward when one group thinks they are being repressed because they aren't allowed to repress another group.

    December 2, 2010 at 1:35 am |
  13. Hello

    Apple sucks!

    Sent from my iPhone

    December 2, 2010 at 1:33 am |
  14. HotAirAce

    I'm an atheist, work for a large multinational company that produces PCs, own an iPad and recognize that companies can and do make decisions in their best interest (to reduce costs, maximize profits, increase market share, etc.) that may not seem to be in the intersest of all members of society...

    Without seeing the actual content that "urges opposition to abortion and gay marriage and support for religious liberty, among other positions" and the survey questions, I cannot say if the material is "evil" (without attempting to define what evil is) and should have been pulled, or if it's just a group's attempt to promote their views.

    *If* the material is not evil, and could have or has been published in a traditional manner such as a newspaper or periodical, then I think Apple has made a mistake in that Apple wants to be a provider of more than just products. They want to provide data and information in addition to prodcuts so that their source of revenue is broadened and they are less reliant on product revenue (that tends to decrease on a per product unit basis). I don't think Apple can be successful as a news/information provider if they appear to be biased – unless they actually want to only serve particular segments of a market and have decided that other segments will continue to buy other products and services, or are willing to forego the revenue they won't be getting from the segment they decided to PO.

    A long winded way of saying Apple's decision is probably based more on financials than religious beliefs.

    Finally, from a pure atheist point of view, if the material is not evil, I have absolutely no problem with it being distributed by any means – electroninc or otherwise – freedom of speech and all that. And maybe there's a business opportunity to provide a competing app with the counter position...

    December 2, 2010 at 1:22 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I just read the manhattan declaration. While I don't agree with it, I don't see anything that hasn't been said or printed many times before – not that prior publication is justification for continuing to publish hate speech. It's pretty much standard christian dogma (crap!), and while it certainly isn't pro-gay, it doesn't promote hatred or violence towards anyone, at least not any more than public declarations by religious leaders such as pope-a-dope.

      To be consistent, I think Apple would have to also remove the several bible reader apps, or prevent other similar stories, declarations and opinions from being published via any app. I think Apple has ventured out on the slippery slope of censureship and it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

      December 2, 2010 at 3:24 am |
    • Frogist

      @HotAirAce: Apple's censorship has already come under scrutiny itself. They have removed many pro-gay apps and apps that have any minutely se-xual content. This isn't new by any means. They have aligned themselves with the conservative movement to irradiate their store clean of all apps having to do with "controversial" information. It's problematic, but not unusual, that they are trying to stay away from anything that might decrease their bottom line.

      December 2, 2010 at 9:53 am |
    • HotAirAce

      @Frogist

      I beleive we are on the same page – this is more about dollars than philosophy, human rights or moral positions. But as I posted elsewhere here, I think Apple's decision will come back to haunt them on a broader scale, in terms of their costs and loss of customers.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:15 am |
    • Phil

      "maybe someone will make an app with the other point of view"
      Hell, just use the app and fail it! Maybe that will get it through to them as to the sheer number of people who disagree with them!

      December 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Hot Air Ace: Yes, we are on the same page. It's about the profits. But the human rights/ moral philosophy aspect is keeping me from giving them my hard earned cash. I'm quite old enough to decide what s_exual content I'd like to peruse. And I think you're right that it will affect their bottom line. But I doubt it will do much since they are pretty much the biggest game in town anyway.

      December 3, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  15. Andrea M

    Yes Apple, I AM offended. I'm offended by random people telling me what I should do with my own body and who it is "correct" for me to love.

    December 2, 2010 at 1:15 am |
  16. Andrew

    I think this is an example of the single greatest problem in the world today. Especially in American because of the right to freedom of speech.

    People spend too much of their "free speech" trying to trash others instead of building/raising support for their own group. It happens in December ever year. The non-Christians boycott a store because the store sells Christmas trees. When in reality they should boycott because the store doesn't sell items for their religion. Or you have the Christians who boycott because the store is selling "holiday tress" instead of Christmas trees. We spend all our time and energy telling others how bad their way is instead of showing everybody how great ours is. And the masses will never see how great our way is because of all the hate we are trying to sell.

    December 2, 2010 at 1:11 am |
    • pcarini

      "The non-Christians boycott a store because the store sells Christmas trees."

      Where has this happened?

      December 2, 2010 at 1:14 am |
    • Andrew

      It was in Colorado a few years back. Maybe just Colorado, but it sparked a whole holiday boycott frenzy.

      December 2, 2010 at 6:03 am |
    • Frogist

      @Andrew: I think you have an important point. When people claim free speech these days it's almost never really about the free exchange of ideas, but the willful maligning of someone who is different.

      December 2, 2010 at 9:40 am |
    • Bill In STL

      Well Said Frogist.....

      December 2, 2010 at 11:19 am |
    • pcarini

      "It was in Colorado a few years back. Maybe just Colorado, but it sparked a whole holiday boycott frenzy."

      Andrew, I think you're making an equivalence here where there is none. After some pretty intense searching all I was able to turn up were news stories (and a wiki article) about American Family Association and the Catholic League boycotting stores for not using the word Christmas. A counter-boycott by non-Christians doesn't seem to have been reported anywhere.

      Please either provide a link, or retract your claim that non-Christians boycott stores for using the word "Christmas" here in the United States.

      It's easy and always feels good to say "well, they do it too!" but it's not always true, some equivalencies are false.

      December 2, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • Bill In STL

      PCARINI – Here is one link to a story in the Bay area .... it was 2006....

      h t-t p://w-w- w.insidebayarea. com/oaklandtribune/localnews/ci_4814976

      December 2, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
    • pcarini

      @Bill in STL: Nope. That's yet another story about conservative Christian groups boycotting stores for using the word "Holidays" instead of "Christmas". Still no mention of non-Christians boycotting for the use of the word "Christmas".

      I do appreciate your effort in digging up the link, though.

      December 3, 2010 at 2:41 am |
  17. childressrulz

    I thought the internet, and cell phone apps were witchcraft to the thumpers anyway.

    December 2, 2010 at 1:04 am |
  18. Jeffision

    The Christianists can sure dish out the attempts to silence and censor anything that offends them, but they howl like 2 year old spoiled children when the tables turn and their offensive app is pulled from Apple. Isn't it interesting that at the exact same time they're complaining about this app being removed they are also trying to keep a long list of books out of libraries, they're protesting art in the Smithsonian, and their screaming at Amazon. They are just bullies.

    December 2, 2010 at 1:02 am |
    • philip cabibi

      Lol

      AMEN!

      December 2, 2010 at 1:05 am |
    • Frogist

      @Jeffison: Excellent point.

      December 2, 2010 at 9:37 am |
    • Bill In STL

      Okay, insulting the prophet will earn death for you in some countries .... Drawing cartoon pictures of the prophet will get a standing hit on you .... What would you rather .... angry individuals or assasins?

      December 2, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  19. ColinC

    Awesome move, Apple. (No sarcasm intended)

    December 2, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  20. naksuthin

    The best thing Christians can do is to stop telling other people how to live and follow the teachings of Christ.
    In particular, stop badmouthing gays and stop calling women who have abortion "baby killers". Christ never said a word about the gay lifestyle and he never said anything for or against abortion.
    He did, however, have a lot to say about helping the poor, feeding the hungry, ministering to the sick, and turning the other cheek. He didn't accuse the poor of being welfare cheats who are just too lazy to find a job.
    Another thing. Christ was very specific about divorce. He mentions it in all four gospels and in no uncertain terms. Yet 25% of evangelical Christians seem to think divorce is OK. Christians need to practice what they preach

    December 2, 2010 at 12:51 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.