This is a little concerning. Are you familiar with the Manhattan Declaration? Chuck Colsen and quite a few other leaders in the evangelical world came together to sign a statement reinforcing their commitment to the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and a few other key social issues. More than a half-million Christians – by one report – have signed on as well. To garner more signatures, an iPhone app was developed for the declaration so Christians could review the document and sign on with their support from their Apple devices. So where is this story headed?
Well, Apple approved the app, and it appeared in the App Store. But then several liberal groups complained that the declaration was, in effect, "hate speech," since it opposed gay marriage, and started a campaign asking Apple to drop the app from the store. And today, Apple dropped the app.
So why is this troubling me? Well, not necessarily about this app in particular, since an iPhone app certainly isn't the best way to collect signatures when a website will work just fine. What's troubling is that Apple has now set a precedent for excluding content from its ecosystem based on the content's philosophical opposition to gay marriage. Once the review board at Apple starts down that slippery slope, where does it end? What if your church launches an app to stream your pastor's sermons, and your pastor talks about gay marriage? Using the same standard, won't the critics demand your church's app be deleted as well?
And if critics hold Apple responsible for anti-gay marriage rhetoric on the App Store, what about iTunes, where thousands of churches and ministry organizations stream content? What about Christian albums on the music store? What about kids videos like What's in the Bible, that actually promote the dangerous idea that the Bible is, in fact, the word of God? Reading the comments online in support of Apple's decision, it's very clear many people would like Christian voices in support of traditional marriage or right-to-life issues to be excluded from all digital media marketplaces. Since Apple reserves the right to reject content for almost any reason (and often, in fact, does), they are an obvious target for those with an anti-Christian bias.
Given the tremendous reach of Apple's various devices, Christian ministries are jumping into app development with both feet. It appears, though, that Steve Jobs has found himself in the middle of the battle to redefine traditional biblical teaching on several social issues as "hate speech." As a lifelong quasi-Buddhist, the only dog Jobs has in this fight is the continued sales of his devices.
Whether or not Christians continue to have equal access to these devices is going to be a very interesting story to follow. Make no mistake, though. The first shot has been fired.
This is the reason I won’t buy an Apple iPhone or iPad. It may be the best designed product on the market, but when I buy such a device want to decide what will be on it.
If they can censor porn, they can censor religious messages. It’s that simple. So I have an Android instead.
facebook.comtwitter.comPhil, we really appreciate you covering this story. Every Christian should see that this is about more than loosing an iPhone application–it is about being viewed fairly and being given equal access to voice our opinions. While Apple certainly has the right to remove the app, we do not believe it to be a prudent decision.
We are sharing updates of this story via and if you’re interested in sharing your thoughts.
Come tell us what you think.
Simply amazing… blocking content from the App Store that’s readily and freely available on the internet through a browser… a statement of faith! Yet you can download soft-p0Rn and texts from the “religion of peace” that encourage beating women and murdering people who think different from you. Apple, please don’t be a one-sided censor. the app store is about freedom as well as capitalism, which go hand in hand. And remember, it’s statements like those in the Manhattan Declaration which spawned a movement which created a nation which gave us the freedom to innovate like we have and go from the dark ages to the space age in just a few scant generations (Read the Five Thousand Year Leap for more on that one.)
Well, there’s a buck-fifty worth of my two cents.
Well, if liberals are going to complain about conservaite speech. Why don’t the conservatives complain on liberal media. Christians should be peaceful, but not used as a doormat. If both sides begin to flood Apple with complaints, maybe they’ll be forced to let both sides have equal room.
This is quite a conundrum for me. I like the fact that Apple is choosing to censor objectionable material, but I don’t like that they’re the ones deciding what’s objectionable. As a user of their products, I am very impressed with the ingenious design and simplicity of their products. However, I’m a bit disappointed in how and what they’ve chosen to censor. Why not leave the decision in the hands of the user/owner? Why not make it so the user can decide for themselves what’s objectionable and what they do and don’t want to see. They already categorize apps in the marketplace, why not take it a step further, and give the user a means to select the filters they deem appropriate. This would seem to be the most reasonable way to do appease everybody. In a lot of ways, this is the same war/debate that’s been ongoing on TV and Radio, only those mediums were government controlled by a panel, this is not.
Manny: Well, if liberals are going to complain about conservaite speech. Why donâ€™t the conservatives complain on liberal media.
Ori: Because we don’t need to. Liberals have to recruit young conservatives to win. Conservatives only have to educate their children to stay conservative.
Ok, I am very late to comment, but agree this is troubling and worthy of comment. Thank you Phil, belatedly.
This seemed to me to be such a disturbing precedent that I made it a personal first, writing the CEO of a company who’s actions offended me to describe my tenuous exclusive affinity for Apple computers and media players.
Steve and team must oversee a gracious and life giving closed universe for their products, or I will be sorely tempted to go back to the open and much higher universe of Windows or Android despite their relative incoherence and instability…
It is little understood that Religion is as strongly a Federally protected category as Sexual Orientation. Equal treatment under the law would suggest that a Christian cannot be fired precisely because they are in fact a genuine Christian.
The truest test of an established religion is that it uses the power of the state to persecute members of other religions, moral or social standards it does not approve of. Modern states with established religions use the moral and ethical codes of the established religion as its default standard of what is right. In this, they tend to surpass the United States in terms of the ethical standards required of business.
From these two measures. State enforcement of a moral code and the standing of international business ethics. The United States, as a fact on the ground rather than in its purpose statements, does not have a firmly established religion. Instead, it has adopted gay marriage as a moral standard that it is trying to enforce upon religions, moral and ethical codes. This move to establish enforceable moral standard upon others must end badly.
For, it must make genuine Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Budhism or Hinduism unemployable; and/or it must violate the US constitution on two points. One, it must establish a religion so it can legally persecute what ever religion or moral standard that opposes it; in conflict with the 1st Amendment. Two, it must violate equal protection under the law, in conflict with the 14th Amendment. That is, any group, religion or moral standard that does not robustly endorse gay marriage must have less rights of free speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, freedom of religion or any civic rights that permit it to suggest that they disapprove. If the social pressure to conform is not force the Religious to give in, these must be forced into ghetto neighborhoods, businesses, and local politics.
This sad strategy might even work if it were not for the simple imbalance of society that is occurring. 80% of US Citizens think of themselves as religious and 1.96% of US Citizens think of themselves as homosexual. For 80% of the populace to abuse 1.96% is unjust. For 1.96% of the populace to abuse 80% is tyranny.
Apple is a business that is not seated in a state with an established religion. In the end, It must reflect the good will of its customer base in order to thrive. From the marketing numbers, US firms actually gain more customers than they loose by being overtly religious in their business and organizational ethics. Apple cannot safely avoid this either in its public acts nor its internal operational acts toward its staff. If does not have the power to establish homosexual morality as the default religion of the USA nor to provide less than equal protection under the law to its Religious staff members. The reverse is also true. Apple does not have the power to establish one’s favorite religion as the default religion of the USA nor to provide less than equal protection under law to its homosexual staff members.
But, to its customers, it has the right of freedom of association. And, its customers have that same right. Apple, if it were foolish, does not have the power to compel a customer to buy their services even as it insults the customer’s various religions. 80% of the market share vs 1.96% of the market share, Apple’s board will have to make a thoughtful response to reality at some point.