Apple's iTunes App Store has removed a program for the Manhattan Declaration after critics decried the declaration as "anti-gay" and "anti-woman."
The app, which went online in October, enabled users to sign the declaration, visit the website, and take a survey relating to the declaration. Change.org posted a petition–which picked up over 7,000 signers in a few days–asking that Apple remove the "anti-gay and anti-choice" application.
Defining itself as "A Call of Christian Conscience," the 4700-word declaration announces its signatories' intention "to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense" of principles that include "sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as a union of husband and wife, and the freedom of conscience and religion." Released in 2009, the declaration has picked up over 400,000 signers, including drafters Charles Colson, Robert George, and Timothy George. (CT's editor-in-chief David Neff also signed the declaration.)
At some point in the last few days, the declaration app unobtrusively vanished from the App Store.
Observers have long puzzled over Apple's criteria for accepting and rejecting apps; in fact many people accused Apple of a double standard when they rejected a number of apps designed specifically for the gay community. The company said they rejected the apps for objectionable content, though many say that the cited content was no worse than that available in apps the company has accepted (like the one promoting the recent movie Bruno).
Apple has yet to explain its reasons for removing the declaration's app, which they originally rated "4+" for "No objectionable material." Supporters of the declaration, however, are definitely making their opinions known about the anti-app campaign.
"I am one of the 150 or so original signers of the Manhattan Declaration—I urge readers here to sign it—and I don't hate gay people," wrote Tom Gilson on First Things's Evangel blog. "That's an unjust and intolerant tag that a minority opposition group has fixed upon me for rhetorical effect. It's wrong and it's extremely judgmental."
"To a radicalized blog dedicated to promoting abortion, denigrating the dignity of women and the unborn, and supporting unnatural unions, this application is the scourge of human existence," writes Billy Atwell on the Manhattan Declaration's own blog. "What does that tell me? It tells me that we're doing something right "
UPDATE, 12/01: The three original drafters of the Manhattan Declaration have sent a letter to Apple, calling on Steve Jobs to restore the app.
"In an atmosphere of 300,000+ available apps, it is surprising to us that there couldn't continue to be an app focused on three views that millions of Americans have in common," Colson said in a press release late this afternoon, referring to the three major planks of the declaration.
"Apple originally found that the app contains no objectionable materials," Colson said, "and in the spirit of civil public dialogue, we call on Apple to reinsate the Manhattan Declaration app and allow these issues to be debated in a reasoned and respectful manner."
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