"There's an app for that."
The catchphrase coined by Apple and their advertising gurus to sell iPhones and iPads has become so ubiquitous that it's even been parodied on Sesame Street. Still, few would have ever thought that the tech giant—which, like many other Silicon Valley concerns, boasts a progressive profile on many cultural issues, and extends domestic-partner benefits to gay and lesbian employees—would condone an app that purports to "cure" homosexuality. It would seem an even greater stretch for Apple and company founder and CEO Steve Jobs to make such an application available through its iTunes store.
Yet the app—by a ministry group called Exodus International—is right there, along the thousands of other iPhone apps available to plugged in Apple users. And this appears to be the point at which many of Apple's cultish fans—including plenty of gay activists—are drawing the line. No, they say: There's not actually an app for that.
The Exodus ministry seeks to promote the "ex-gay" movement—promulgating the testimony of people who claim to have been cured of homosexuality through Christ. The target audience for the smart-phone app, its makers say, are "homosexual strugglers." The idea is to teach gay people that they have a choice when it comes to their sexuality, a choice to choose "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus."
Of course, providing a tech platform for a particular spiritual or ideological movement doesn't signify an endorsement of its point of view. At the same time, however, as Gawker's Ryan Tate noted during an earlier controversy over a gay-themed app, "every time Apple approves an app, it implies moral endorsement of the content of that app."
And since average Apple user is younger and more culturally tolerant of homosexuality, word of the Exodus app has sparked a fast-growing protest As of this writing, more than 100,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on Apple to abolish it. What's more, some who've purchased it are somewhat baffled by it.
Writes the Atlantic's Nicholas Jackson:
So I downloaded the (free) app, which was launched on March 8. A giant resource bank, the app contains lists of events, videos and news stories that are carefully curated to reflect the mission of Exodus International, which states that individuals can "grow into heterosexuality." Nothing available on the app would lead me to question my homosexuality, but maybe I'm not fictile enough.
Perhaps the time is ripe for a market solution. Surely, engineers for a competing smart phone, like the Droid, are hard at work preparing to launch a more effective and intuitive app curing people of their straightness?