Banned Christian iPhone App shows no sign of resurfacing despite fundie howls

HAT’S off Apple for refusing to bow to pressure from Christian fundies who want an iPhone application, The Manhattan Declaration, restored after it was removed earlier this month.

Despite the fact that over 480,000 loonies have signed a petition to have the homophobic and anti-abortion app restored – it was chucked into the rotten apple bin after more than 7,000  people petitioned the company to ditch it – the App Store has shown no sign of knuckling down to pressure.

The Manhattan Declaration used a smashed iPhone to highlight the App ban

An Apple spokeswoman said that the app was removed:

Because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.

So just what is the Manhattan Declaration all about? This, from its website, says it all:

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

It was in this tradition that a group of prominent Christian clergy, ministry leaders, and scholars released the Manhattan Declaration on November 20, 2009 at a press conference in Washington, DC. The 4,700-word 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.

After the app was removed, drafters of the Declaration submitted a revised one which no longer contained a poll that asked users about same-sex relationships and abortion.

The original poll comprised four questions – including “Do you believe in protecting life from the moment of conception? Y or N” and “Do you support same-sex relationships? Y or N”. Twenty-five points were awarded for each “correct” answer. A pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage response was considered incorrect.

Said Chuck Colson, one of three drafters of the ecumenical document:

As a sign of goodwill, we have removed the poll and have resubmitted the app without it.

Colson insisted that the declaration contains no offensive or inflammatory language and does not promote hate or homophobia.

The Manhattan Declaration declares that God loves all people.

The only thing offensive about the document, he suggested, is the biblical view of sexual morality.

Stuart Shepard of Citizen Link, which is Focus on the Family’s advocacy arm, demonstrated the absurdity of the decision in a video, in which he said:

Yep, marriage is too offensive an idea for Apple. I can take the easy route and point to the many embarrassing and objectionable apps that are still available that would offend actual ‘large groups of people’ but we all know this is really only about a certain group of people.

He argued that Apple was stifling free expression and pondered whether it would stop at the App Store.

If I call my wife on one of your iPhones to say ‘I love you too and I’m glad I married you’, will the phone cut me off in the middle of the call … No, wait, it does that already.

24 responses to “Banned Christian iPhone App shows no sign of resurfacing despite fundie howls”

  1. Lucy says:

    I have just been in New York and went to the Stonewall Inn and saw the monument to Gay Liberation. It was moving and humbling. And meanwhile these people are still obsessing about ‘same sex relationships’.

    BTW I don’t get the last remark from Mr Shepard. Is he suggesting that a gay person might be offended by a man’s love for his wife? And that iphones would edit it out? That is so bizarre and paranoid a thought….they just don’t get the ‘live and let live’ thing do they?

  2. Tom Morris says:

    I don’t see why they are so bothered about having this as an app. Why bother? It makes perfect sense as a website.

    I put up a post a while back explaining the silliness of this:

  3. Stuart H. says:

    Is this the Chuck Colson jailed for his part in the Watergate affair, who then ‘got God’ and became a millionaire running Prison life Ministries?
    Can any US correspondent tell us, is this scumbag and his nasty outfit still raking it in from ‘rehabilitation projects’ in US prisons? I know PLM were kicked out of UK prisons on the recommendation of not only prison governors but even the Prison Chaplain General (think that’s his title) himself, after a pilot program in Dartmoor proved quite conclusively that leaving prisoners to just sit and rot had exactly the same success rate as handing them over to godbotherers.

  4. Stonyground says:

    The good news about attitudes like these is that people die and when they do their attitudes die with them. To counter this they do their best to indoctinate their children with the same kind of hatred but even if they succeed, those children will find themselves part of a dwindling minority. They will then make themselves into social parriahs or learn to move with the times.

  5. JohnMWhite says:

    While I am against Apple being able to censor whatever they choose, in principle (if I buy something I should be able to install whatever apps anyone can write for it), this sends a very positive message that mainstream corporations will not tolerate the peddling of hatred and intolerance. Now, if only companies like Target could say the same…

    For anyone to pretend that the Manhattan Declaration is not hateful is the usual pathetic platitudes from shit-stirrers who probably cannot remember which lie they are meant to believe themselves. The entire document is a declaration of a concerted effort to stand against undesirables and fight tooth and nail to deny rights to some and enshrine privileges for others. It basically says “if you’re not with us, you’re with Satan”, and has been used as a tool to try to force Republicans even further to the right. Of course it’s hateful – it proudly waves the flag of Christian misanthropy. No one is good enough for them, but some are just not supposed to dare exist.

  6. Stuart W says:

    Mr Shepard gives a first rate display of the logic that ensures fundies are increasingly becoming a global joke. Yes, refusing to provide technology that opposes same-sex marriage MUST mean that you find heterosexual marriage ‘offensive’. Keep it up, fella!

  7. Buffy says:

    Such whiny douchebags they are. They continuously insist private businesses should be allowed to decline to do business with people or groups they find offensive. Then when a business does so, they have the vapors over it. Hypocrisy much?

  8. NeoWolfe says:

    Don’t you guys understand what this really is??? Ask yourself why a questionaire would be presented to identify user opinion. Answer enough questions correctly, and immediately you would be flooded with requests for donations, and invitations to volunteer your time in fundraisers. LOL. It’s not an attempt to spead hate, it’s an attempt to connect with those who are already infected with hate in hopes of stealing their money and their volunteer time.

    It’s hard to pity conmen, but it’s also hard to pity victims who pay them hard earned money in order to win favor with a fairy tale god. It’s like two thirsty snails trying to such water out of each other. They deserve each other.


  9. Kirillov says:

    It’s called freedom of speech. In the bazaar (not cathedral) of opinion, everyone gets to set out their stall. The price of admission is putting up with the idiotic opinions set out on the other stalls. By putting up with anti-gay religiosity, freethinkers earn the right to exhibit their own views. Seems to me that atheists should be supporting the Manhattan Declaration’s right to exist. Have I missed something?

    Flemming Rose makes a good case along these lines in his book about the Danish Cartoons. Freedom – it’s good enough for me and my Debbie Mcgee.

  10. barriejohn says:

    The Manhattan Declaration: pretentious or what?

  11. barriejohn says:

    Not knowing precisely what an “app” does, I tend to agree with Kirillov. Apple seem to be on dodgy ground here, banning something because it might be “offensive to large groups of people” (so they wouldn’t ban it if it were offensive to a small group of people then?). Hmmm…seem to have heard this sort of thing before somehow. Don’t suppose they’re just interested in image and sales by any chance.

  12. Robert Stovold says:

    “Christians… worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family”

    That’s a bit rich, given that Jesus promised eternal life to men who would foresake their wives and children:

    “And Jesus answered and said, verily I say unto you, there is no man that has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)

  13. ZombieHunter says:

    To be honest I think this is just PR on Apple’s part, while I agree that this manhattan declaration thing is a load of arse to be honest I find censorship more offensive besides the people who made this app can just make similar content for other phones which don’t have the same restrictions or even put the same thing up on the internet for the whole world to see on their PC (including apple PC’s unless they decide to censor that too)

    the price of freedom of speach and freedom of expression is that moronic and even downright nasty people will put make themselves heard, the important thing is that we freethinkers are there to oppose them by being rational, funny and just being ourselves which will do a lot more good than censorship.

  14. jay says:

    This is one reason why I will not buy an iphone. The picture is much bigger (and Apple is using this as a kind of PR stunt) that a manufacturer has no business censoring what I put on my device. Period.

    Apple has made a lot of capricious decisions including banning apps that seem to (legally) threaten their profit models.

    As offensive as the ‘manifesto’ is, corporate censorship of personal property is even more offensive.

  15. NeoWolfe says:

    Robert S. said:

    “That’s a bit rich, given that Jesus promised eternal life to men who would foresake their wives and children.”

    Actually, though it would be advantageous to politically spin that scripture, the context of Jesus’ campaign makes it obvious that what he was saying was that those who are pressured by their families to reject the message, and who decide not to succumb, who lose their families as a result, will find a new family among believers (persecution is the inevitable downside, but immortality as the reward).

    Shades of Harwood.

    I can identify with that, I was rejected by my entire family, my father and mother, my wife (who dragged our children into it), my grandparents, and all my friends, when I rejected religion. I eventually settled upon “skeptic and freethinker” as a definition of myself, but unlike christianity, there are no welcoming arms of a new family to cushion the blow. Reality and sanity is as tough a row to hoe as any early christian.


  16. barriejohn says:

    But my experience was the reverse of that, NeoWolfe. The Plymouth Brethren turned me against my family from an early age, and poisoned my mind with such verses as this:

    If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

    I was taught that my parents were in the clutches of the devil, and that I could not believe anything that they told me, and I naively accepted that. I know that this sort of thing still goes on. Mercifully for me, when I came to my senses my relationships were restored, and no one said “Told you so” – which they could quite easily have done – but I do grieve for the lost years and lost opportunities. I only got to know my father properly during the last ten years of his life, and I will never forgive the zealots for that!

  17. NeoWolfe says:


    Neither my nor your story is unique. Focusing on yours, I am reminded of the cults of the late 60’s when families, at great expense, would hire thugs to kidnap their children from cult camps to present them in private surroundings to a professional “deprogrammer”.

    The methods employed were much like political brainwashing. Sleep deprivation, constant philosophical bombardment, forcing them to piss themselves rather than use the toilet. And if the effort failed, the family and the deprogrammer were subject to kidnapping charges, possible life imprisonment. Big risk.

    When your eyes opened, you rediscovered your family. When my eyes opened, I lost everything. Reality, stranger than fiction.


  18. barriejohn says:

    PS Who knows what Jesus said anyway? I tend to agree with Harwood’s position – that you have to read between the lines to find out what he was really like! My personal view now is that he and other fanatics like him were responsible for all of the blood-curdling, bigoted, fire-and-brimstone parts of the gospels, and that the “nice” bits (“Love thy neighbour”, “Turn the other cheek”, “Blessed are the peacemakers”, “Cast not the first stone”, “Do-as-you-would-be-done-by”, etc) were the teachings of others like the Essenes. I can’t prove it, but it certainly does away with many of the blatant contradictions in what is ascribed to him. In any case, I agree with Robert that Christians are hypocritical in the extreme in their claims that they “support the family”. What they really mean is that they “support Christian families”, and that’s a different thing!

  19. barriejohn says:

    PPS In a way it doesn’t even matter what The Bible says, because these bigots will just take verses out of context and hang their philosophies and practices on them, as if that justifies them absolutely! Religion has been the cause of suffering beyond imagination down through the years – but all “for the greater good”!!

  20. NeoWolfe says:

    I will call Jesus a jew, not an Israelite, because the Babylonians deported the other ten tribes across their kingdom. He was obviously illiterate, he never wrote a word, because he probably didn’t know how.

    To dictate a book, you would have to hire a “scribe”. The accounts of what he said and did are attributed to persons who were educated. Matthew, a Roman tax collector. Luke, a physician. Mark’s occupation is unrevealed, though John’s trade as a fisherman lends doubt to his literacy and therefore to his authorship of revelation.

    But, my opinion of the campaign of Jesus was to change people’s perception of “Yahweh of Armies” to a loving forgiving father. After all, you are what you worship. The existing hierarchy felt the challenge to their power and they killed him for his heresy. But, as often happens, political prisoners become martyrs.

    You are right, no one really knows what Jesus said or did. Literacy was uniquely hoarded by organized religion throughout the entire globe throughout human history. Yet, you defend Harwood, who took a phrase out of a parable, and tried to spin it that Jesus was recommending defrauding victims until they were used up.

    I am looking for facts, not spin. We have been getting along well recently. Please don’t fuck it up by defending that asshole fraud.


  21. barriejohn says:

    NeoWolfe: I have a right to my own opinions and I’m not going to worry about upsetting you just because you may have different ideas. Facts are facts, and opinions are just that – opinions! I don’t believe for one moment that the four gospels were written by the four people to whom they are ascribed, but I am not an historian so I have to depend on the deliberations of others there. You may well be right about Jesus, but to me he was probably just another Jewish zealot, executed for insurrection, who would have been forgotten had it not been for “Paul”. I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the opinions of a person like Dr Harwood on the basis of a disagreement over the interpretation of one scriptural passage, and calling someone an “asshole fraud” on that basis is going too far.

  22. NeoWolfe says:

    Okay BJohn,

    You said,

    “I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the opinions of a person like Dr Harwood on the basis of a disagreement over the interpretation of one scriptural passage, and calling someone an “asshole fraud” on that basis is going too far.”

    You are not ignorant of the bible. He quoted Luke 16 as an example that Jesus was recommending that people steal from their victims until they are used up. But, the reality is that the parable was saying exactly the opposit. Read:

    ” 13* “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

    Now, you cannot blame Robert Stovold for such a mistake, but Harwood claims to have a doctorate in theological literature. His was not a mistake, it was a deliberate distortion of the truth. Therefore he is an “asshole fraud” and labels our entire movement as windbags. We are the voice of reason and we never need to resort to lies or spin to make our point. Can you agree with me, at least, on that?


  23. Robster says:

    If I lived in Manhattan….

  24. Think or GTFO says:

    Of course god loves everyone equally. That’s why we should treat them differently and discriminate. Makes sense.