Apps are supposed to be fun little things to put on your cell phone (or iPod, iPad or Android phone, as the case may be). They help you find restaurants, or figure out the tip for your waitress, make silly sounds to help you get off the telephone, or even simulate the flame of a lighter. They aren't supposed to inflame an entire population to send out petitions to have it removed from the iPhone.
But that's just what happened in the case of the Manhattan Declaration, a fairly discreet-looking app for the iPhone that was Christian in nature. Originally, the app received a 4+ rating from Apple, meaning that it contained no objectionable material. But that usually means no porn, no hate speech (as in no Nazis or race-baiting), and no overt violence. However, in just a few short weeks, the Manhattan Declaration was pulled for being anti-gay, a designation that the Manhattan Declaration disagrees with greatly.
Here's how it all fell out: The Manhattan group sent out a brief survey to all its members. Some of the questions had to do with gay marriage and abortion. Users who replied that they approved of gay marriage or a woman's right to choose received a message that they had received a zero score and were directed to donate money to the group. This prompted an organization called Change.org to get riled up. Change.org represents the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transexual (LGBT) community and they were up in arms that an anti-gay app was given space on the iPhone. The group started a petition drive that garnered 7,728 signatures, many that had notes following the name citing the hypocrisy of a "loving" Christian group that would single out gays for persecution.
Change.org presented the petition to Apple CEO Steve Jobs and cited "hateful and divisive" language on the app and demanded its removal. By Thanksgiving, the app was down.
For its part, Manhattan Declaration called the petition a "small but vocal protest" and decried the fact that Change.org was charging them with homophobia.
"We emphasize with great sincerity that 'disagreement' is not 'gay-bashing." Anyone who takes the time to read the Mamhattan Declaration can see that the language used to defand traditional marriage, the sanctity of life, and religious liberty is civil, non-inflammatory, and respectful."
An Apple spokesperson defended the move to remove the app, saying: "We removed the Manhattan Declaration app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people."
The Manhattan Declaration vows it will fight on in petitions via Twitter and Facebook.