Christian group asks Apple to reconsider app suspension

Jeff Winkler Contributor
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A Christian organization that recently had its Apple iPhone app removed from Apple’s App Store has sent a letter to protest the removal, asking CEO Steve Jobs to reconsider the decision.

Late last week, Apple quietly removed the Manhattan Declaration app, which had been available since mid-October, after an online petition was circulated calling the app a “hate fest” and saying that the Manhattan Declaration pushes “hateful and divisive language.” The petition, which originated on, wished to tell Apple “that supporting homophobia and efforts to restrict choice is bad business.”

Released in Nov. 2009, the wordy Manhattan Declaration “speaks in defense of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty. It issues a clarion call to Christians to adhere firmly to their convictions in these three areas,” according to the declaration website.

Manhattan Declaration spokeswoman Michelle Farmer told The Daily Caller that the statement and organization have never espoused any hateful rhetoric toward homosexuals or pro-choice advocates but that it does stand behind its belief and hopes that Jobs will listen to their concerns.

“We’re making the argument that if [Jobs] would take a look at the Manhattan Declaration himself, he’d see it’s not written with any rancor. It’s written on a very even keel,” said Farmer. “It’s just appealing to things that people want to come together on, that millions of Americans agree on.”

Farmer said the app is aimed at other like-minded believers and called it a “shame that the detractors have attempted to paint the Manhattan Declaration and it’s supporters as hate mongers.”

The app itself includes a survey with four questions each worth 25 points:

  1. Do you believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman? Y or N
  2. Do you believe in protecting life from the moment of conception? Y or N
  3. Do you support same-sex relationships? Y or N
  4. Do you support the right of choice regarding abortion? Y or N

After users take the survey, they can read the full declaration, sign it and pass it on to others. While the declaration itself calls homosexual and polyamorous relations “immoral conduct,” the section dealing with marriages simply calls the institution an “objective reality” according to the Christian philosophical tradition.

There is no language to suggest that homosexual or pro-choice advocates should be physically, emotionally or psychologically assaulted, despite accusations that the app is “anti-gay,” “homo-hostile” and “anti-women.”

“There’s no name calling, no offensive rhetoric,” said Farmer. “It restates firmly, without any kind of animosity toward anybody, the central moral teachings of the catholic, orthodox and Evangelical traditions.”

Apple has a fickle history when it comes to banning particular apps from its iPhone store. Officially, applications “must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users,” according to Apple’s regulation.

Apple’s “reasonable judgment,” however, has meant that a whole swath of apps have been removed in the past, from the more obvious iBoobs and the silly farting app, to the vageuly political but seemingly innocuous “Freedom Time,” which depicted George W. Bush counting down his presidency on a virtual analog clock. Apple even pulled an app that allowed users to attach their head to important religious icons, according to the Huffington Post.

Farmer said the Manhattan Declaration sent the letter to Jobs late on Monday but have not heard back from Apple. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.