Letter to Tim Cook regarding Christian holidays in Apple’s calendars

I just sent an e-mail to Tim Cook about his company’s decision to include a series of Christian holidays on their built-in “U.S. Holidays” calendar, and to configure them with alerts to ensure their visibility:

Mr. Cook,

This past Sunday, I was surprised to find a notification banner on my Mac alerting me to the occurrence of Palm Sunday. Then I checked my iPhone, which proudly displayed the same alert on its lock screen.

At no point did I opt in to notifications of Christian religious holidays. But apparently Apple has chosen to add Christian holidays to its built-in “U.S. Holidays” calendar and configured them with default alarms.

This is more than just annoying; it is disheartening to see this from a company that champions diversity and respect. Apart from the first day of Passover (erroneously named to as to imply that the entire holiday lasts one day), Christianity is the only religion whose holidays are deemed important enough not only to be present on my calendar by default, but to actively notify me of their passing!

Where is Yom Kippur? Or Eid al-Fitr? Or L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday? Their absence implies that Apple cares not for any religion other than Christianity. And why should any of these holidays appear under a calendar entitled “U.S. Holidays”? I’m reasonably certain that Palm Sunday is not in fact recognized by the federal government of the United States.

Mr. Cook, you have personally expressed your support for the cause of equality, from marriage equality to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Yet your company’s devices and services are actively proselytizing for Christianity. Worse, they are claiming to do so under the U.S. flag, reinforcing the pervasive sentiment that “Real Americans” are Christians.

The mere inclusion of Christian holidays on your default calendar is an exclusionary act. Please remove them and show that you really do care about diversity and respect.

I have filed Radar 16646358 about this issue.

Sincerely,
–Kyle Sluder

3 Comments

  1. Paul Deans

    The United States is a majority-Christian nation, built on Judeo-Christian heritage. The only people who wish to suppress this are extremist atheists, which makes it ironic when atheists try to speak for people of other faiths. The suppress all religious notification would be to live in an atheist state, which would be showing a clear and unjustified favouritism towards atheists. The U.S. Constitution also makes freedom of religion an inalienable right, and any person, company or entity is free to express any religious view they wish, without fear of suppression and intimidation of extremist atheists.

    My recommendation would be that, if you are that bigoted that the mere mention of Christianity anger you, then you should turn your notifications off, and perhaps seek diversity training. No other religion is “offended” by Christianity, I suggest atheists stop trying to use them to further their goal of a totalitarian, atheist state. It’s not going to happen.

    • Paul Kingle

      Mr Paul Deans, I do not think the author meant to express Christian faith as offending or upsetting but rather that there is a problem in including by default religious holidays in a non-religious calendar. This is true for Christian faith but any other belief too. The issue is that this is done regardless of the users’ faith or preference. As a Christian and as a software developer I find this “by default” setting rather unjustified and lacking simplicity, accuracy, and flexibility. Allow me to explain…

      First, a few definitions:
      * agnostic: no claim of belief nor disbelief in godly entity(ies)
      * atheist: disbelief in a godly entity(yes)
      * laic : nonclerical

      Now, if we consider the separation of the state and church, then the state is laic / nonclerical. Therefore a state holidays calendar should not include religious holidays except for those which may be officially recognized as state holidays per cultural heritage.

      In those circumstances a state holidays calendar should only list government-aproved dates. The users should then feel free to add (or not) any religious holidays calendar of their choosing.

      From that point of view I agree and thank you for having filed a radar on the issue.

      Now, this being said, I find both posts a bit too aggressive, especially the post comment I am replying to. Indeed, the issue at the core is probably just the result of an error and needs fixing. But it should be fixed in terms of laicism and not atheism-or-any-other-faith, in terms of user-freedom-to-choose-(or-not)-whichever-religious-calendar and not my-religion-should-not-be-discriminated-against or my-religion-is-better-than-yours.

      • I appreciate that the tone of comments has remained civil, but I’m going to close comments on this post. My letter was strictly limited to Apple, a company with customers of all faiths and persuasions across the globe. I’d rather not discuss tangential topics such as the United States government.

Comments are closed.