Apple Pulls Arlington-Based Religious Group's App

The group that petitioned the app, Truth Wins Out, thanked Apple in a statement saying the app "stigmatizes and demeans LGBT people"

A religious group based in Arlington, Texas, says it's working to get its app reinstated after Apple removed it from the app store Friday after a national gay rights organization petitioned to have it pulled.

Living Hope Ministries has had its app for about three years, but the program was pulled by Apple just a day after Truth Wins Out, a group opposing conversion therapy, pushed to have it removed.

According to Living Hope's website, its mission is to "proclaim God's truth ... with those seeking sexual and relational wholeness through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ."

The group that petitioned the app, Truth Wins Out, thanked Apple in a statement saying the app "stigmatizes and demeans LGBT people." It went on to call ex-gay programs consumer fraud.

Living Hope Ministry's executive director, Ricky Chelete, denied those claims saying Apple didn't contact him about removing the app or the allegations, which he said aren't true.

"The purpose of the app is simply to allow people a convenient way to access weekly devotions, ministry teachings, testimonials and other resources from the ministry all for free," Chelete said.

He went on to say his program offers no therapy.

"'Conversion Therapy' is not even a therapeutic modality. It's a created term applied to those who believe in a traditional and orthodox understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its power to transform people's lives when they fully trust in it," Chelete said.

Apple didn't respond to requests for comment by The Dallas Morning News.

Local LGBT activist Sean Sala, who spent time in Chelete's program as a young man, called it dangerous and corruptive, saying the app only made it more accessible to young people trying to figure out who they are.

"It was a last ditch resort that left me more suicidal, more depressed, more hurt and more confused and more angry at God than any program that would claim to bring you closer to God," Sala said.

He said there have been rumblings in Texas to create a law that would do away with such programs. He believed the removal of the app was a step in the right direction.

"Apple has made the right decision. It's on the right side of history and it's going to see its businesses only benefit from this decision," Sala said.

The app is still available in other stores and Chelete said his provider was working to get it reinstated with Apple.

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