The Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto asserting the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and liberty of conscience, has been discussed previously on Uncommon Descent (see here and here ). Well, it’s in the news again.
I expect many readers will have heard by now that Apple has removed the Manhattan Declaration iPhone/iPad application from the iTunes Store. The Declaration – a Christian statement drafted in 2009 that supports religious liberty, traditional marriage and right to life issues – now has 479,532 supporters. The Manhattan Declaration app was accepted by Apple and rated as a 4+, meaning that it contained no objectionable material.
Last month, around Thanksgiving, the Manhattan Declaration application for iPhones and iPads was suddenly dropped, after the activist group Change.org gathered more than 7,700 signatures for a petition, after claiming that the application promoted “anti-gay” bigotry and “homophobia,” and that it attacked both “equal rights and the right of women to control their own bodies.” Under a headline entitled, “Tell the Apple iTunes Store to remove anti-gay, anti-choice iPhone application,” the petition drive concluded with the words: “Let’s send a strong message to Apple that supporting homophobia and efforts to restrict choice is bad business.”
The petition seems to have had the desired effect. Catholic News Agency contacted Apple on December 2 for the reason behind its decision to pull the Manhattan Declaration application. Spokesperson Trudy Muller said via phone that the company “removed the Manhattan Declaration app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.” Strange. Why the 4+ rating, then?
I believe in calling spade a spade, so I’ll just come right out and say it: Change.org lied to its readers and to Apple about the purpose of the Manhattan Declaration.
In their online petition to Steve Jobs, Change.org made the following deceitful claim:
The Manhattan Declaration application exists to collect signatures on a website which espouses hateful and divisive language, the very kind of language I hope the iTunes Store will not want to help disseminate…
Apple’s reputation is too important to be associated with this hate filled organization.
Oh, really? Let’s see what the Manhattan Declaration actually says about the unborn and about gay marriage.
In defense of unborn human life
The section on “Life” contains the following words:
A truly prophetic Christian witness will insistently call on those who have been entrusted with temporal power to fulfill the first responsibility of government: to protect the weak and vulnerable against violent attack, and to do so with no favoritism, partiality, or discrimination. The Bible enjoins us to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to speak for those who cannot themselves speak. And so we defend and speak for the unborn, the disabled, and the dependent.
Our concern is not confined to our own nation. Around the globe, we are witnessing cases of genocide and “ethnic cleansing,” the failure to assist those who are suffering as innocent victims of war, the neglect and abuse of children, the exploitation of vulnerable laborers, the sexual trafficking of girls and young women, the abandonment of the aged, racial oppression and discrimination, the persecution of believers of all faiths, and the failure to take steps necessary to halt the spread of preventable diseases like AIDS. We see these travesties as flowing from the same loss of the sense of the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life that drives the abortion industry and the movements for assisted suicide, euthanasia, and human cloning for biomedical research. And so ours is, as it must be, a truly consistent ethic of love and life for all humans in all circumstances. (Emphases mine – VJT.)
“The Bible enjoins us to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to speak for those who cannot themselves speak.” “Ours is … a truly consistent ethic of love and life for all humans in all circumstances.” Is this hateful language? You tell me.
I notice that Change.org speaks of “choice” in its online petition drive, oblivious to the fact that the innocent human being whose life is terminated during an abortion is denied a choice.
In defense of traditional marriage
“What about gays and lesbians?” you ask. Again, not a trace of hate. In the section on “Marriage,” the Manhattan Declaration affirms “the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every human being as a creature fashioned in the very image of God, possessing inherent rights of equal dignity and life.” Obviously that includes gays and lesbians. The Declaration goes on:
We acknowledge that there are those who are disposed towards homosexual and polyamorous conduct and relationships, just as there are those who are disposed towards other forms of immoral conduct… We stand with them, even when they falter. We, no less than they, are sinners who have fallen short of God’s intention for our lives…
And so it is out of love (not “animus”) and prudent concern for the common good (not “prejudice”), that we pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture. (Emphases mine – VJT.)
Some readers may disagree with these sentiments; but there’s no condescension here. Notice the wording: “We, no less than they, are sinners.”
As I write this, more than 35,523 people have signed an online petition to have the Manhattan Declaration iPhone app reinstated. I would strongly urge readers to lend their support to the petition by signing it here or here.
Let’s send a strong message to Apple that giving a group of concerned citizens a platform to express their opinions, and then withdrawing that platform without warning, is bad business.