I am a Mac user and something of an Apple apologist, but I was dismayed to learn that Apple has pulled an “app” on the Manhattan Declaration since it is “anti-gay.” Initially, Apple gave it a 4+ rating, indicating that it had no objectionable content. But then a small but noisy group of gay rights outrage specialists got Apple to change its mind. You see, it is not enough to be tolerant. YOU MUST APPROVE. See this remark from Jeffrey Levi (former director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force): “We [homosexuals] are no longer seeking just a right to privacy and a right to protection from wrongs. We have a right – as heterosexuals have already – to see government and society affirm our lives.” To disagree is to hate, gay-bash, and be homophobic. What utter nonsense. It is troubling that this debate often turns this way. Too often the primary mode of argument among gay marriage advocates is simply calling the other side nasty names.
The Manhattan Declaration was signed by hundreds of Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox leaders. Around a half million Christians have signed the declaration. The declaration (read it here) is a message of solidarity on religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of marriage. It is thoughtful, careful, and is in no way homophobic. It affirms the “profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent right of equal dignity and life.” It calls upon its signers to “reject disdainful condemnation” of those who disagree with Christian positions on life and marriage. Whatever one’s views on homosexuality and gay marriage, I would think that documents like The Manhattan Declaration count as models for humane and compassionate discourse on this emotionally charged subject.
How does this all end up playing out for Apple? Now that Apple has banished an app for having a position against gay marriage, will it cleanse iTunes of any and all podcasts from churches that have sermons on homosexuality or “unacceptable” positions on gay marraige? Will it pull the Bible from its iBooks store? How evenly will this censorship be applied?