The Manhattan Declaration is an ecumenical document promoting traditional marriage, the sanctity of human life and religious liberty. It’s been signed by almost 500,000 people and is extremely civil and respectful in language. They recently created an iPhone app to help promote their cause…and it’s doing just that:
“Some of you may be aware by now that Apple has removed the Manhattan Declaration iPhone/iPad application from the iTunes Store. This happened some time over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Manhattan Declaration app was accepted by Apple and rated as a 4+, meaning it contained no objectionable material. Yet Apple pulled the app shortly after a small but very vocal protest by those who favor gay marriage and abortion. These groups claim that the Manhattan Declaration promotes ‘homophobia’ and that its supporters are ‘anti-gay.’”
The Manhattan Declaration folks have asked Apple and are still waiting for an official explanation. But Apple did say that the app was removed “because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.”
The “large group of people” apparently includes Change.org and the 7000+ people who signed their petition to remove the app. Their statement said the following: “The Manhattan Declaration application exists to collect signatures on a website which espouses hateful and divisive language, the very kind of language I hope the iTunes Store will not want to help disseminate. Despite the store rating the application 4+ (‘no objectionable material’), I can assure you that the application does in fact contain lots of objectionable material.”
First, I can guarantee you that the almost 500,000 people (and soon to be many more) who signed the Manhattan Declaration are “offended” by not only Apple removing this app, but by countless other apps Apple chooses to “disseminate.” Will they be removing all of those apps, too?
Second, Apple is making a huge mistake choosing to make this entirely traditional and innocuous declaration their example of what constitutes “offensive to large groups of people.” Not only because the language used in the Manhattan Declaration is more civil and has been more thoughtfully chosen than that used in just about any other app, but mostly because of what they are calling so offensive: Christianity. There is nothing in the Manhattan Declaration that isn’t completely in line with Christian teaching. To call it offensive is to call Christianity offensive.
Third, there is perhaps no better thing Apple could have done to help “disseminate” the Manhattan Declaration cause than to remove it’s app from the Apple store for being too offensive.
Many have called this a “free speech” issue. But if this is a free speech issue, it’s one of Apple’s right as a private company to decide who and what they want to support (as they’ve done in the past).
And this isn’t about being tolerant of everyone (which Apple, Change.org & co. clearly are not). And it’s not about being offensive (which Apple, Change.org & co. clearly are…to me). This is about drawing lines and taking sides in a very real culture war. If you didn’t know already, now you know which side Apple is on…at least today.