When I was in high school, we had a flyer on our refrigerator that listed products associated with Procter & Gamble. We were supposed to boycott them because Procter & Gamble’s president had announced on a talk show that he supported the Church of Satan. As it turns out, this case of satanic allegiance was completely false. It seems laughable now that this rumor was able to gain any traction whatsoever, but it arrived during the “Satanic Panic” during which experts and religious leaders (e.g., the now-discredited Mike Warnke) warned us of the rising dangers of Satanism and satanic ritual abuse. The rumor meshed so well with a narrative that we liked that we never thought to be all that skeptical about what we read and heard.
It now appears that portions of the Russian Orthodox Church are creating a similar situation. Interfax reports that some Christians in Russia’s Orthodox community are covering the logos on their Apple devices with crosses. Their contention is that the bitten apple in the logo represents the fruit that Adam and Eve ate in the Garden of Eden, and therefore symbolizes original sin and is anti-Christian.
Although this seems silly enough on surface, there is a possibility that it might spell trouble for Apple down the road. According to X-bit Labs:
…the Russian parliament is considering a set of laws designed to “to defend citizens’ religious feelings and national and spiritual values from blasphemy and insult”. Considering the ongoing radical orthodox Christian hysteria in the Russian Federation, which began earlier this year, and the will of authorities to assist the confession that openly supported presidential candidate Vladimir Putin early in 2012, Apple may run into problems in the country. If the laws pass the presidential clan-controlled parliament (which is highly-likely), the ultra-radical orthodox activists may accuse Apple of anti-religious deeds, which may in the worst-case scenario halt sales of Apple products in Russia.
But here’s the rub: the allegations that Apple’s logo was intended to symbolize original sin, or any religious concept for that matter, are completely false, just like the aforementioned Procter & Gamble rumor. In 2009, Creativebits interviewed Rob Janoff, the designer of the iconic logo, and asked him what the bite represented. Here’s his answer:
…when I explain the real reason why I did the bite it’s kind of a let down. But I’ll tell you. I designed it with a bite for scale, so people get that it was an apple not a cherry. Also it was kind of iconic about taking a bite out of an apple. Something that everyone can experience. It goes across cultures. If anybody ever had an apple he probably bitten into it and that’s what you get.
In other words, he wanted to ensure that people would always recognize the fruit in the logo as an apple, regardless of the size at which the logo was displayed, and so he took a (figurative) bite out of it. No religious connotations, no intention to blaspheme, and no desire to insult anyone’s “religious feelings and national and spiritual values”, but rather, a simple desire for visual and aesthetic clarity.
Would those protesting Russian Christians, were they to read the above quote and learn the truth, stop being offended? Or would they continue to push their narrative — that the logo is a deliberate insult to Christianity — regardless of the truth? One certainly hopes the latter isn’t the case. Christians ought to seek after and hold onto the truth, even if it contradicts our favored narratives or doesn’t align so neatly with our preferred goals. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen: one need only look at Snopes’ “Religion” section to see falsehoods that have been promulgated in order to prop up Christianity and/or make our “enemies” (e.g., atheists, homosexuals) look foolish.
Such efforts — whether it’s an attempt to put an executive in cahoots with the devil or an attempt to claim blasphemy and offense where there is none — will backfire when the truth inevitably comes to light, making us and our assertions seem silly and irrelevant. What’s more, it may give rise to a “crying wolf” situation that makes it more difficult for people to take seriously those cases of blasphemy and persecution that are true. If we’re to receive the world’s ridicule, let it be for proclaiming the truth, not for stubbornly holding onto falsehoods.