Robert A.J. Gagnon, board member of the ex-gay Restored Hope Network, initiated a Facebook conversation last night that was supposed to be about Setting Captives Free, a mobile-phone app that promises to cure people of “habitual sin” as defined by the Christian Right — chief among those sins, so-called “bondage from homosexuality.”
But Gagnon didn’t link to news about the newly banned app; he linked instead to a 2010 Christian Post complaint against Apple for banning an app for the antigay Manhattan Declaration.
As I wrote in 2010, the Manhattan Declaration called upon petition signers to violate community laws; violate the freedom, spirituality, and conscience of others; distort history; and parrot malicious falsehoods about sexual minorities. The Manhattan Declaration was endorsed by several supporters of antigay violence, imprisonment, and execution, including Peter J. Akinola, Ken Hutcherson, Marvin Olasky, and Coral Ridge Ministries.
Gagnon now equates that Declaration with the new ex-gay app, which was banned from the iTunes app store after a protest for violating developer guidelines, which do not allow “the promotion of hatred toward groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity.”
The ex-gay app remains remains available in the Google Play app store for Google Android devices.
On Facebook, Gagnon contends that the Declaration’s support for criminal acts against gay-tolerant people of faith somehow protects “freedom of religion” and that the Declaration sponsors’ avowed intent to imprison or execute homosexuals defends the “sanctity of life.”
In subsequent comments, a fan of Gagnon argues:
The refusal of the Christian app is, in a way, freedom of religious expression. They refuse to acknowledge God as God, or give him thanks, and their foolish hearts seem to grow darker daily. The mindset is anti-Christian and anti-God—it’s their religion and faith, and it’s not truth-oriented.
This argument, of course, is a clear case of projection. The ex-gay app — focused as it is on selected peripheral vices and not the religious right’s core offenses against Christian values — represents a trivialization of sin. Meanwhile, opposition to the Declaration’s call for a return to the Dark Ages of inquisitions and holy wars reflects — in the view of Gagnon and his supporters — a refusal “to acknowledge God.” How so? They equate themselves, and their deeply primitive worldview, with God. They deify themselves.
The purpose of the ex-gay app, then — as Gagnon sees it — is not to cure anyone. Gagnon and RHN have failed to cure anyone of homosexual orientation despite decades of trying.
The purpose of both mobile apps is, apparently, to trivialize Christian morality, deny essential human rights to sexual minorities, disenfranchise fellow Americans, foment inquisition, divide churches, and keep public conversation about sin as far away as possible from those sins that dominate and corrupt the Christian Right.
And the app’s creators don’t deny this. Nowhere on the app’s host site do we find disclaimers opposing antigay violence and defamation, or defending human rights and constitutional equality. But we do find, on the app creators’ Facebook page, relentless efforts to discourage depressed people from taking antidepressants or trusting in “medical professionals.” The creators not only want people to pray away the gay, they also want people to pray away depression.
Gagnon is a captive of a wildly imbalanced and self-serving moral code that blames patients for their depression and that blames parents for their children’s natural sexual orientation. Will he ever allow people of conscience — and ethical medicine — to set him free?