The greatest threat to religious liberty and free speech in the United States is on the attack again. I’m not talking about Islamic extremism or the New Atheists. No, as dangerous as these anti-Christian ideologies are to our freedoms, they take a back seat right now to the ruthless, methodical attacks by gay-rights groups on anyone who disagrees with them.
Let me explain. Last year, you’ll recall that we created an iPhone app for the Manhattan Declaration. The app would allow users to read, sign, and share the Manhattan Declaration and its defense of human life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom. Apple said the app was “free from objectionable material.”
But when a group that supports so-called “gay marriage” protested that the Declaration promoted “hate” and “homophobia” and was “anti-gay,” (which it wasn’t), Apple removed the app from its iTunes store.
Since then I’ve been warning you that the Manhattan Declaration was just the first target of gay-rights groups. Now they have another: Exodus International, a Christian ministry that aims to free people from homosexuality. Apple has now removed the Exodus International app from its app store.
A left-wing group called Change.org placed enormous pressure on Apple to discontinue the Exodus app. But before they even got to that stage, Change.org engaged in what I can only describe as a bare-knuckled smear campaign. Here’s what they said, and I quote: “Exodus’ message is hateful and bigoted. They ... use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients.” In case you are unfamiliar with this terminology, LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and “transgendered.”
Meanwhile, a reviewer called Exodus a “fanatical group.” Another said it was “as dangerous to Christianity as al-Qaeda is to Islam.” This kind of libel would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. It is as far from the charitable civic discourse we have all been encouraged to use as you can possibly imagine.
Clearly, Change.org and groups like it don’t care about that. They simply want to eradicate any speech that critiques their way of life, however gently and respectfully, and they will do or say almost anything to get their way -- all in the name of tolerance!
So now, in their eyes, and apparently also in Apple’s, not only is standing for traditional marriage verboten, so is helping people who no longer want to live a homosexual lifestyle. What’s their rallying cry now? “Once you’re gay, we’ll make you stay”?
Some may say that losing an iPhone app for Exodus International isn’t that big a deal -- just like it wasn’t a big deal when Apple banned the Manhattan Declaration app!
But it’s not just about apps. It’s about freedom of speech, the ability to participate in the marketplace of ideas. The gay-rights groups have shown their fangs. Victory in the courts or in the legislatures is not enough for them. They want to silence, yes, destroy those who don’t agree with their agenda. So they target Christian groups and corporate America to do just that.
The writing is on the wall, folks. For the sake of religious liberty and free speech, we must not remain silent. Not on this issue, or on any issue that would threaten free speech and freedom of religion.
This article published on March 24, 2011.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.