Apple recently pulled an application that promoted the Manhattan Declaration, a movement to protect conservative Christian values. It focuses on three main issues: the sanctity of life, dignity of marriage as one man and one woman and religious liberty.
Backed by more than 480,700 signatures, declaration signers include big names like Chuck Colson and James Dobson. A petition to reinstate the app, pulled over Thanksgiving weekend, has more than 43,170 signatures so far.
The petition is written to Apple's chief executive officer Steve Jobs. Last I heard, Jobs has not responded to the petition directly, but an Apple PR rep told "Family News in Focus" radio that the app violates guidelines by being "offensive to large groups of people."
The app was originally rated 4+ for "no objectional content." The decision to pull the app came after a small but vocal pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage group protested.
App Store guidelines state:
"Apps containing references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected."
I have read and signed the declaration and I find no reference to any of those things. Disagreeing with pro-abortionists and gay marriage is not the same as being "defamatory" or "mean-spirited." I wonder if protesters would describe their own disagreement with people like me the same way.
I'm tired of small groups of people calling foul and saying Christian beliefs are unfair to them. "It's not fair for you to have a say, but I want mine." The next thing you know, people will ask Apple to pull the Bible app because they're offended. No one is asking them to download these applications.
What if a small group of non-drinkers found the Pub Crawler or Cocktail Recipes apps offensive? I can't help but think the collective response would be "get over it."
What if a group of educators protested the "Boring School" app where students try to hit the teacher with a wad of paper? "It's harmless," some might say.
How about the "Hacker Evolution" app where you have to hack eight virtual servers to win the game?
Could Apple also pull the "iMenorah" app, the "Celtic Lunar Astrology" app or "Tarot Reading" apps? What if I'm offended by those beliefs, even though they contain no hateful or disrepectful language?
How about the apps for Bible quizzes or Christian networking? Will Apple pull those, too, because people are offended by Christian beliefs?
I applaud Apple for removing such apps as "baby shaker" — which I do think could have dangerous consequences, but I think this is a step in the wrong direction. And not just because I support the declaration.
Frankly, if there was an app where people could sign a pro-abortion document, I would disagree on the issue and hold fast to my own views, but I wouldn't protest it. You have your opinion, and I have mine. I'm also not Jewish or into Tarot readings, but that's the great thing about America. You do your thing; I'll do mine. How can you try to shut me up when you know you'd kick and scream if I did the same to you?
In a column in the San Francisco Chronicle, Colson wrote:
"Apple has every right to decide what to offer in its app store and what not to offer. But it is chilling that such a culture-shaping company would so quickly take sides in a debate.
"There is something more at stake here than whether Apple hosts a particular app; whether or not we are capable as a society of maintaining the free marketplace of ideas. Because the open and civil exchange of ideas is essential to democracy and a free society. The kind of society that has produced entrepreneurial geniuses like Jobs."
Read more about the declaration at www.manhattandeclaration.org.