Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

Anti-gay App Not Objectionable Enough?

****Update**** Looks like Apple may have taken the app down.  It’s no longer loading.  Once I know for sure, I’ll update again.  Thanks Jason for the heads up!

There’s an app for everything these days, a reality that many mac-philes will reference when engaged in the endless battle of Apple vs. PC.  I think it’s great that anyone with the skills can create an app, market and sell it – except that’s not exactly true.  Apple still retains the right to not sell whatever apps they feel contain “objectionable content”.  The list of those rejections include:

Tweetie, the popular Twitter client, rejected because people swear on Twitter; Jesse Tayler’s Craig’s List Browser because, well, take your pick — it’s Craig’s list!; and Jelle Prins’sLyrics because not all songs are PG. Wired’s story about Jelle adding a dirty-word filter, and the easter egg to disable it, is worth reading.

So I have to wonder – how can apple rationalize rejecting apps because of curse words, yet they accept an app whose main goal is to try to counsel people out of being homosexual?  The Exodus International app does just that – and is stirring up quite a bit of controversy because of it.

Released in mid-February by the Orlando, Fla.-based Christian group Exodus International, the free app provides video, podcasts, blog posts and other content that reflect the group’s mission as a “refuge for people looking for help in their journey out of homosexuality.”

“Exodus is a Christian ministry that supports those wanting to reconcile their faith with their sexual behavior,” the group says on its site, adding that it believes that changing homosexuality is possible because thousands of people in its network can attest to it. On its homepage, Exodus emphasizes that its “4+” rating from Apple means that the app contains “no objectionable content.”

How are curse words more objectionable than a group perpetuating the myth that gay counseling (or conversion therapy or whatever you want to call it) works?  The American Psychological Association certainly disagrees, and it’s been shown that this kind of ‘therapy’ is potentially harmful to the people who undergo it.

The group, of course, is claiming that if Apple removes their app it’ll be an act of religious discrimination, but that claim won’t hold up too well considering Apple’s history of removing apps that are too controversial.

In November, Apple pulled another controversial application after just 7,000 people signed an online petition at

The application, called Manhattan Declaration, was a “call of Christian Conscience” that advocated “the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and religious liberty,” according to its website.

In a statement at the time, Apple said, “We removed the Manhattan Declaration app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.”

But there are apps for all sorts of ridiculous beliefs – astrology, numerology, psychic predictions, Christianity, Paganism, and on and on and on – why shouldn’t these anti-gay people be allowed to hock their wares just like everyone else?  What about the great American right to be a businessman – the right to selling ideas!

I’m all for the right to do whatever you want – as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.  I’ll even amend that to say – as long as it doesn’t directly hurt anyone else since it could be argued that everything has the potential to hurt someone else indirectly.  In this case, even with the amendment, I don’t think this app passes that requirement.

Conversion therapy not only doesn’t work, but it hurts people.  Instead of helping individuals and families learn about and better understand homosexuality, these groups seek to label gay people as wrong and tell them that change is possible if only they try hard enough.  Considering the shocking string of gay teen suicides 5 months ago, I can’t consider this harmless.

If there were an app that told people that eating a pound of salt a day cured cancer, I would be equally opposed to it.


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One of the scientists cited by Exodus called for this app to be pulled down:

The conclusion of that letter:

“From my perspective, the risk of offending and harming consumers by providing a platform for erroneous information about an important health and social topic far outweighs the potential financial gain. Arguably, corporations have no affirmative responsibility to vendors under the First Amendment of the Constitution, but they are accountable for the quality and consequences of their products.”

The religious reich has never permitted useless things like the law, common sense, or even human decency from hampering their goal of imposing their sick, twisted beliefs upon the entire world. This is just one more example of that. Most of the problems of the world are, and always have been, caused by religion. For example, Northern Ireland, 9/11, the Middle East, and family planning clinic bombing in the USA. Then there were the crusades, the inquisition, and the dark ages. Get the idea? Humanity will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the… Read more »

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