Apple removed the app from the iPhone store March 22 after 150,000 people signed a Change.org petition demanding that the company pull what the homosexual group Truth Wins Out called a "hateful and bigoted" app. The Exodus app simply stated basic Christian beliefs -- in this instance that homosexuals can be freed from their desires through the power of Christ. Sometimes called an "ex-gay" ministry, Exodus is the nation's largest Christian organization dedicated to reaching out to homosexuals. Apple said it pulled the app because it was "offensive to large groups of people."
Conservative leaders were highly critical of Apple's move, and some prominent homosexual and liberal writers have been as well.
Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton, who is homosexual, wrote on his website, "while obviously we don't support or agree with the app and its content, we DO feel however that they have the right to have their app in the store."
Dennis Ayers, managing editor of the homosexual website AfterElton.com, wrote the most prominent defense of Exodus, stating, "As vehemently as we might disagree with Exodus International's mission and beliefs, we think they should be allowed to express them."
"Apple says the app was removed because it was 'offensive to large groups of people.' But lots of things are offensive to large groups of people. Does the GLBT community really want that to be the standard for what is allowed on Apple's increasingly pivotal app store? How soon until Apple gets a petition to remove Grindr? What if The Trevor Project tried to release an app to assist gay teens?" Ayers wrote, referencing a homosexual app (Grindr) and a teen-focused homosexual organization (Trevor Project).
"... Perhaps Apple shouldn't be in the business of censoring content at all," Ayers added. "And if they are going to do that, then at least they should publish some very clear standards. 'Offensive to large groups of people' isn't a standard the GLBT community -- or any minority community -- should feel comfortable with."
Even if someone was offended, Ayers wrote, they could "choose not to download and install it."
The liberal website American Prospect posted an article by writer Nancy Scola critical of Apple under the headline, "Big Brother Apple." Homosexual teens, Scola said, were more likely to "stumble upon the Exodus website" -- still accessible through the iPhone's browser -- than to "download its app." The message was clear, she said: "It's Apple's job to police who can see what online."
"As the whole Exodus episode demonstrates, Apple doesn't stop at the standard of serving up only what's legal, as they might," Scola wrote. "Nor, really, is it just interested in protecting us from what's truly offensive, which is what many of us probably assume is the standard. Nope, Apple curates the app market to keep out stuff it simply doesn't want."
Scola concluded: "Running to Apple to police one corner of the Internet might, down the road, look like winning a battle while losing something bigger."
It was the second time in recent months Apple has pulled an app. Late last year Apple also pulled the Manhattan Declaration app, which contained the text of a document with historic Christian teachings on sexuality, abortion and religious freedom. Among other things, the document opposes "gay marriage." Many leading Christian leaders, including some Southern Baptists, signed it.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Read Baptist Press' earlier coverage of the Exodus controversy at http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=34901
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net