Apple Yanks iTunes from ‘Christian Values Network’

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Apple’s known for taking principled stands on all sorts of issues, and now it’s taken another by pulling iTunes from the “Christian Values Network.” CVN, which operates shopping portal CVG.org, raises money for various religious groups through product purchases at over 600 participating companies (including Apple). Think Target, Avon, Netflix, Microsoft, Macy’s, etc.

But according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), some of the religious groups are “active hate groups” engaged in “anti-gay, anti-women” activities. [UPDATE: An earlier version of this story listed Focus on the Family as on the SPLC’s list, when in fact this isn’t the case. Techland regrets and apologizes for the error.]

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A few of the groups are certainly controversial. For instance, the founder of Abiding Truth Ministries, Scott Lively, wrote a book titled “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,” which attempts to link homosexuality with extreme militarism in the Nazi party, and the Family Research Council actively lobbies against LGBT rights and advocates a one-year waiting period before a married couple with children can legally divorce (excepting domestic abuse).

Their inclusion in CVN’s network prompted student (and apparent Apple enthusiast) Ben Crowther to launch a campaign through Change.org, petitioning CVN business participants to “Stop Supporting Anti-Gay Hate Groups.” The petition asks CVN to “remove the five listed hate groups from their website,” claiming they’re “discriminatory and encourage violence against LGBT people, all while promoting their bigoted missions in the name of religion.” Change.org notes that “many legitimate religious groups…can earn money from your purchases,” but singles out the five groups listed by the SPLC as reason enough for businesses to terminate their relationship with the group.

“From the beginning, I knew that once this issue was brought to Apple’s attention, they would not want to be a part of CVN because it funds anti-gay hate groups like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council,” said Crowther in a statement. “Apple is a fair-minded business. I’m glad this petition helped make Apple aware of this issue, and I am thrilled that they removed iTunes from CVN.”

Change.org claims Apple’s move to pull iTunes from CVN’s network comes after upwards of 35,000 people signed similar petitions at both Change.org and AllOut.org, an LGBT advocacy site (the petition at Change.org alone has been signed by nearly 23,000 people).

Apple’s not the first to go. Microsoft dropped out of CVN’s network two weeks ago, followed by others like Macy’s, REI, Delta Airlines, BBC America, and Wells Fargo.

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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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