By Katherine T. Phan|Christian Post Reporter: The Christian group, under fire by gay rights activists for the so-called “gay cure” app, responded to the controversy Monday, saying its Apple app is being grossly misrepresented.
(Photo: Exodus International)
The app by Exodus International lets users access the ministry’s events, blog, videos, podcasts, and Facebook page.
“In no way shape or form is our message about trying to cure or do we try to promote that type of methodology or message,” Jeff Buchanan, Exodus International’s Senior Director of Church Equipping & Student Ministries, told The Christian Post.
“This is a label (gay cure app) that has been put forth by opponents to the application to serve as propaganda in order to stigmatize and really label the application in a false way and provoking a response such as you are seeing with the application.”
Over 107,477 people have petitioned Apple to remove the Exodus app from the iTunes store. The petition, launched by Truth Wins Out, a LGBT rights group, calls Exodus’ message “hateful” and “bigoted.”
On Monday, Truth Wins Out, whose name is a play on words of Exodus’ Love Won Out conferences, urged more people to sign its petition. In addition to releasing a video on why Apple should remove the app, the LGBT rights group also pledged to continue pressuring Apple until the app is removed, even promising to hold a press conference featuring victims of “ex-gay” programs in front of the company’s offices if their demands are not met.
“We are disheartened at the fact that there are activists who are rising up to silence our voice on the Exodus iTunes platform,” said Buchanan.
“We want to ask that there would be fair and equal representation of religious belief on this platform as is already existing. We would like the spirit of diversity and tolerance that is so valued within the LGBT community.”
The Exodus app, which can be downloaded for free, lets users access the ministry’s events, blog, videos, podcasts, and Facebook page. One feature of the app addresses the topic of bullying from a biblical perspective.
Apple has given the Exodus app a 4+ rating, meaning the app contains no objectionable content and is open to users of all ages.
“We ask that they would hold true to the initial rating that was given to us,” said Buchanan, who worked with third-party developers on the Exodus app.
“Our message is to promote the love of Jesus Christ to all those who have been impacted by unwanted same-sex attractions,” he continued. “Really, the point of the application is to provide the material that is also on our website in a smartphone format. Nothing more and nothing less.”
Buchanan also debunked common misconceptions about the organization, saying it is not here to “pray away the gay” or force anyone to do anything.
“We are helping those who have unwanted same-sex attractions. Those who are gay or identify themselves that way, in no way, shape or form are we trying to speak to their position or trying to impose anything upon them,” he said.
“Exodus believes the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality. It is holiness. We promote the belief that one can live a life that is congruent with their faith. That is our mission – period. ”
The controversy is being closely watched by gay rights activists and Christians alike to see if Apple will again fold under pressure from a petition demanding the removal of an app accused of being offensive to the LGBT community.
In November 2010, Apple removed the Manhattan Declaration app – a Christian document affirming the sanctity of life, the historic understanding of marriage, and religious liberty – after gay rights activists complained to Apple via a Change.org petition.
Despite a petition of more than 46,000 signatures asking Apple to reinstate the Manhattan Declaration app, the app was never returned to the iTunes store. Like the Exodus app, the Manhattan Declaration app was also initially approved and rated as a 4+ by Apple.
Both Truth Wins Out and Exodus International said they have not had any communication with Apple.
“We hope this will be an opportunity for Apple to promote a policy of diversity and tolerance within iTunes and within their platform,” commented Buchanan.
“What we do not want to do is presuppose what Apple is going to do. We definitely want to hope that they will allow us to be fairly represented and anything beyond that we will take on a day by day basis.”
On the Web: The Exodus International app can be found on the Apple iTunes store.