NEW YORK – A petition launched Thursday to protest Apple's decision to remove an iPhone app opposing gay marriage is quickly gaining steam.
The Manhattan Declaration app, which allowed Apple users to add their name to the ecumenical document in support of the sanctity of life, traditional marriage and religious liberty, was pulled from the App Store over the Thanksgiving holiday after a group of activists charged the app as anti-gay.
Some 7,700 Change.org members petitioned the company to ask them to pull the app, contending the statement contained "hateful and divisive language."
Supporters of the Christian declaration are now fighting back with a petition of their own. As of Friday afternoon, over 37,000 people have signed the petition launched by the organizers of the Manhattan Declaration asking Apple to reinstate the app.
"We'll keep it up there as long as we need to keep it up there," evangelical leader Chuck Colson, one of the declaration's drafters, told The Christian Post on Friday.
The petition addressed to Apple founder Steve Jobs and the company itself asserts that the positions espoused in the declaration are based on biblical Christianity. The letter rejects claims that the declaration promoted "hate" or "homophobia."
"Disagreement is not hate," the petition states. "We urge you and Apple, therefore, to promote communication and civil dialogue on these important social issues by reinstating the Manhattan Declaration App."
Despite the app being targeted by gay rights activists, Colson said he wouldn't support efforts to counterattack gay-themed apps.
"We favor as open discussion of issues as civilly as possible," said Colson. "I wouldn't want to suppress the gays just because they want to suppress us. That would be inconsistent with our beliefs."
Colson was one of the members of the document's drafting committee, which included Dr. Timothy George of Samford University and Dr. Robert George of Princeton University. They drafted the Manhattan Declaration in response to growing efforts to marginalize the Christian voice in the public square.
The declaration struck a chord among the Christian community when it was unveiled last fall, garnering the support of prominent evangelical, Orthodox and Catholic leaders. Nearly 480,000 people have signed the document to date.
Colson, who spoke in New York City on Friday as a guest of The King's College's Distinguished Visitor Series, said the document initially generated very little controversy.
When the app based on the declaration was released in October, it received a 4+ rating by Apple, which cleared it of any objectionable material.
He said the group had contacted Jobs and Apple following the app's removal challenging them to find statements that were defamatory or offensive in the declaration. Apple has yet to issue a response to the group.
The evangelical leader expressed concern that Apple's decision may potentially affect other Christian apps available in the iTunes store.
"There is nothing in the Manhattan Declaration that is not rooted in Scripture. So if that becomes the offense then all the other apps would be subject to the same charge," said Colson.