Apple has removed a free religious app from the App Store reportedly promoting so-called conversion therapy.
The app was created by Living Hope Ministries, a religious group based in Arlington, Texas. It offered users a “more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ” with the alleged goal of changing a person’s sexual orientation. Apple gave the app the boot following a petition from LGBTQ nonprofit group Truth Wins Out.
“We thank Apple for exemplifying corporate responsibility and taking swift action to remove a dangerous app that stigmatizes and demeans LGBT people,” Truth Wins Out executive director Wayne Besen said in a statement. “Ex-gay programs are consumer fraud and cause significant harm to the people they purport to help.”
However, the app’s creators claim that their intentions are being misconstrued. “I think it’s unfortunate that the advocacy group doesn’t know what we do and is assuming that we’re some hate organization. We are not,” Living Hope Ministries Executive Director Ricky Chelette told NBC News. “We love gay-identified individuals.”
Chelette said that he was attracted to men in the 1980s, but has since changed his life due to his religious experiences. “We try to help folks who are conflicted with their faith and feelings,” he said. “We have been doing that for a very long time.”
A moral decision
As with many other tech giants, Apple has faced questions over the years about what it does and does not allow on its platforms.
“We only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division or violence: You have no place on our platforms,” Tim Cook said recently, during his acceptance speech for the Anti-Defamation League’s first ever “Courage Against Hate” award.
Tim Cook, who publicly came out as gay several years back, has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ rights during his time leading Apple.