The Manhattan Declaration and Apple Computer

Yes, our title is strange, but so is what we’re going to discuss today. This involves the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience. In addition to that Wikipedia article you can read the actual document here: Manhattan Declaration.

The Declaration doesn’t mention Darwin’s theory, nor does it have a section devoted explicitly to creationism. But it’s definitely creationism-friendly because that doctrine is inherent in several passages that otherwise refer to the usual collection of social conservative issues. For example, the anti-abortion section begins by quoting scripture:

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

That same section also mentions:

… human embryo-destructive research and its public funding are promoted in the name of science and in the cause of developing treatments and cures for diseases and injuries.

The section against gay marriage says:

In Scripture, the creation of man and woman, and their one-flesh union as husband and wife, is the crowning achievement of God’s creation.

In other words, it’s a document that is certainly congenial to creationism, and creationists find it entirely acceptable. We mentioned the Manhattan Declaration in this post about a genuinely wild rant: WorldNetDaily: Theocracy & Creationism, which gives you an idea of the kind of person who finds the Declaration attractive.

With that as an introduction, we present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from ‘Appalling’: Apple again rejects iPhone ‘app’, which appears in the Florida Baptist Witness. The bold font was added by us:

Apple has rejected an iPhone/iPad “app” that had been resubmitted by signers of the Manhattan Declaration, further frustrating Christian leaders who fear the controversy signals a growing societal intolerance of orthodox Christianity. Conservative leaders are now calling the company’s policy “appalling” and suggesting it reflects hostility toward Christian beliefs.

Strange world, isn’t it? Let’s read on:

At issue is an iPhone/iPad software program containing the text of the Manhattan Declaration, a 4,700-word document that includes basic Christian teachings and Bible verses on marriage, life and religious liberty. Key leaders such as Charles Colson, James Dobson, Richard Land, R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Timothy Dolan signed the document in 2009, and more than 480,000 people subsequently signed it online. It received widespread media coverage. Among its stances, the document opposes “gay marriage,” abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

You probably recognize some of those names. We’ve written about a few of them before. For example: in this post we mentioned a favorable review that Charles Colson wrote about Discoveroid Stephen C. Meyer’s book, Signature in the cell. And in this post we wrote about Albert Mohler’s uncompromising defense of young-earth creationism.

We continue with the article in the Florida Baptist Witness:

Apple pulled the free app from its online store in November, saying it “violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.”

We don’t know what other function the app provides besides access, but we haven’t seen it. If access to the Declaration is all the app is good for, what does Apple accomplish by rejecting it — especially after they had previously included it? They can’t control the internet. Anyone can find the Declaration by using Google. Here’s more:

The iPhone/iPad app store contains more than 200,000 apps, some of them covering many subjects Christians no doubt would also find objectionable. There are dozens if not hundreds of apps containing the word “gay” in the iPhone/iPad app store dealing with such subjects as same-sex dating, “gay travel” and “gay news.”

Aha! Slowly the plot thickens. Moving along:

Manhattan Declaration leaders say they will resubmit the app to Apple’s App Review Board after Jan. 1.

We’re stopping midway through the article. Click over to the Witness to read it all. Also, their website has this article by Charles Colson: Distorting reality: Apple again rejects Manhattan Declaration. One excerpt will give you the flavor, and then you’re on your own:

And don’t think that gay-rights activists will be content with getting us removed from the App Store – their goal is to exclude us from the public square altogether. And the best way to achieve that goal is to convince people that simply holding a traditional view on marriage, family and human sexuality is a kind of “hate speech” and incitement to violence.

This is a very nuanced dispute. On the surface it doesn’t seem to involve creationism at all; yet we think it does. Nevertheless, it clearly doesn’t rise to the same level as a dispute about teaching creationism in a public school science class. Apple is — or should be — free to include and exclude any apps it likes with its products, and the creationists are free to complain and ask to have their own apps included.

So what’s this really all about? We’re not sure. In some ways it reminds us of the phony “war on Christmas.” Everyone — on both sides — is certainly touchy these days.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “The Manhattan Declaration and Apple Computer

  1. Curmudgeon: “This is a very nuanced dispute. On the surface it doesn’t seem to involve creationism at all; yet we think it does.”

    Give Klinghoffer time, he’ll get to it.

  2. Not everyone who is against gay rights is a creationist, but all creationists are (at least on a personal level) against gay rights. I had to add that parenthetical caveat after Sen. Mark Pryor’s vote to repeal DADT; he was able to separate his personal views from his job as a legislator.

  3. We could make it explicitly about creationism and I still think Apple is probably wrong. Let’s imagine Behe approves Darwin’s Black Box for free and open distribution. Do I want Apple (or Amazon, or my ISP, or any other corporation) deciding for me that I can’t read it? No.

    Unless the app does something entirely different than what I think it does (which is: give you access to the document), I don’t think this is a nuanced debate at all. Its quite simple. Its not classified, and its not copywrited. If someone wants to share it, let them.

  4. Recall the Apple ad from the 80s that presented IBM as Big Brother. Now Apple is taking on the role of the oppressive monopoly. I don’t support the “app,” but I do support the right of its creators to offer it, and I don’t see why Apple would refuse it.

    Those who support liberty have to be careful to apply it when they are themselves offended.

  5. eric says:

    We could make it explicitly about creationism and I still think Apple is probably wrong.

    I agree. Apple looks rather silly. When some groups complained about the app, Apple’s response should have been: “If you don’t like the Declaration, don’t read it.”

  6. Gabriel Hanna

    Since Apple markets its products to hipsters, or hipster-wannabes, I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of Apple customers DO find the Manhattan Declaration offensive. Of course Apple has every right to have or not have whatever, and if they want to be jerks to some of their customers or potential customers, well that’s free enterprise.

  7. Having developed a modest iPhone/iPad app, it’s quite possible that there are good reasons that Apple hasn’t approved the Manhattan app –that have nothing to do with its content. Their code may just be lousy. Apple is pretty strict about apps being up to snuff. But I haven’t read all of the links in Carmudgeon’s post yet. Just throwing this out as a possibility….

  8. All right, ignore my last reply. I forgot the app was made available, and then pulled. 🙂 So the code was not an issue. My bad.

  9. Every position in the Manhattan Declaration that is mentioned in the two articles is contrary to mine, but it does not seem like the document is likely to incite anyone to violence or civil insurrection. Apple should not have pulled the app based solely on its political viewpoint.

  10. It really doesn’t matter much. But if ” it ‘violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people,'” well, what’s to keep Apple from rejecting pro-evolution apps? They’re clearly offensive to large groups of people.

    So of course they can do what they wish, as a corporation, but I can’t see any excuse for calling their rejection reasonable or even-handed.

  11. Apple is not the government. It’s a company. It can pull an app because it begins with the letter M for all I care.

  12. “Christian leaders… fear the controversy signals a growing societal intolerance of orthodox Christianity.”

    Not tolerating “Christian” intolerance doesn’t make us intolerant.

    Duh.

  13. retiredsciguy

    “We mentioned the Manhattan Declaration in this post about a genuinely wild rant: WorldNetDaily: Theocracy & Creationism, which gives you an idea of the kind of person who finds the Delectation attractive.”

    Delectation? A tasty typo?

  14. retiredsciguy, yeah, typo. The worst kind, because the error resulted in a real word and the spell-checker missed it. All fixed now. Thanks.