Southern Baptists and Disney

Southern Baptists did it! A year after warning the Disney entertainment and media conglomerate that its dramatic shift to an “anti-Christian and anti-family” direction in corporate policy and product production in recent years would probably trigger a broad Southern Baptist boycott against their products, the 1997 Southern Baptist Convention overwhelmingly approved just such a financial protest.

Following brief debate, at least 85% to 90% of the Convention’s messengers voted for the resolution which chastised Disney for “increasingly promoting immoral ideologies” and called for Southern Baptists “to refrain from patronizing” Disney and its subsidiaries. The resolution noted that the “Disney Company has not only ignored our concerns, but flagrantly furthered this moral digression in its products and policies” and urged Southern Baptists to exercise “moralstewardship” in the use of the financial resources Godhad entrusted to their care. The reaction from across the country has been swiftand strong. In the midst of generally negative seculamedia reaction, positive affirmations of appreciationhave poured in from beyond Southern Baptist life. From black Baptists to Independent Baptists, from Church of Christ to Roman Catholics, from Jews to Evangelicals, people have called and written to say, “Thank God somebody is finally taking a stand,” and “Thank you for providing moral leadership,” and “We’re with you 100%!” Even present and former Disney employees have said, “Thank you for doing something. Mr. Disney would be terribly upset at whatis being done by the company that bears his name.”

Along with the affirmations have come questions:

Why boycott? – Financial protests or “boycotts have a long history in America, starting with the Boston Tea Party. One of the most successful boycotts in our history was organized by Martin Luther King Jr. against the Montgomery, Alabama, bus system in 1955. There, blacks said that if they were restricted to the back of the bus, they would walk to work and deprive the bus company of ticket revenue. After 381 days, the bus system lost so much money that they agreed to integrate the buses. Sometimes you have to help people do the right thing.

Why Disney? – First, Disney is a media giant with annual revenues of $18.7 billion and an enormous impact on our culture. As the caretakers of national treasures like Mickey Mouse, their influence looms even larger than their revenues. They have tremendous power to mold national opinion and values. Second, until recently most parents viewed Disney as an ally and a friend in the struggle for decent, wholesome family entertainment. Now they (Disney) have become a major part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

What has Disney done? – Disney has shifted from a profamily to an anti-family focus in recent years. Disney hired avowed lesbian Lauren Lloyd to develop female and lesbian movies. Out, a homosexual magazine, responded: “Like it or not, lesbians are not yet chic entertainment attractions for a lot of America. With Lloyd and Disney on our side, though, anything is possible” (Out, Nov. 1994). Is “Ellen” one of the results of this initiative?

Disney helped underwrite the 1993 Hollywood benefit for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (The Press Enterprise, 12/28/93). Hyperion Press, a Disney-owned subsidiary, has published Growing Up Gay, written by three homosexuals to encourage “gay” young people, and Separate Creation, a book arguing for homosexuals as a third sex or “separate creation” that should be acknowledged and treated as nominally as heterosexual males and females. Disney-owned Miramax produced the virulently anti-Christian movie Priest, and Disney-owned Hollywood Pictures produced Chicks in White Satin, a film about a lesbian couple who decide on a “commitment celebration” (Glamour, 8/9/94).

And this graphic anti-family trend has also invaded the Disney animated films. In The Little Mermaid, a priest becomes aroused while presiding at a wedding. In The Lion King the New York Times noted that the actors portraying Timon, the meerkat, and Pumbaa, the wart hog, claimed to be “the first homosexual Disney characters ever to come on the screen.”

Why not just boycott the bad stuff? – Disney uses the enormous profits from the theme parks and its treasure of classic products from previous decades to subsidize the sleaze it is currently producing.

How do you measure the boycott’s impact? – Since Disney will not release figures, the only way to measure the financial impact on Disney is to call for Southern Baptists and others who join them to write Michael Eisner a letter at the end of every month noting how much money each family did not spend on Disney products that month in support of Southern Baptists’ financial protest and send the ERLC a copy of the letters. We will tabulate the results on a regular basis and share them with the public. (A sample letter is available on our Web site and will be published in the next issue of Light.)

Southern Baptists did it. Now it's time for everyone to do it.
Richard D. Land

* I am grateful to David Miller of the American Family Association and the Point of View Radio Talk Show as well as DL Jack Willke of Life Saves for many of the examples cited in this column. – Richard D. Land

This article is republished from: Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, 901 Commerce #550, Nashville, TN 37203-3696.

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