Momentum continues to build in the push to make Walt Disney return to its family friendly roots. Magazines and mainline congregations are combining to sound the alarm about the Disney way of doing business.
The Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee, The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
and The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) have all adopted a stance on dealing with Disney.
All three groups cited the company's embrace of the homosexual lifestyle and ridicule of Christianity as driving forces behind their decisions. Along those same lines, Southern Baptists in California aren't waiting to make their boycott of the Walt Disney Company official. During November's annual convention, the 800 delegates voted to call on its members to avoid things Disney. The California group cited Disney's rejection of traditional family values as the lightning rod that sparked the boycott. The Southern Baptist Convention has voted to monitor Disney and to consider a boycott, and a formal vote by the national body to officially boycott the company is expected during the 1997 convention.
"This is another indication that this is not just an American Family Association thing - it's a Christian thing," said Dr. Donald Wildmon, president and founder of the American Family Association. "From Tennessee to Missouri to California, church leaders are voting to ask their member congregations to stand united against Disney's attack on the family. AFA is not seeking affirmation for our stance but I'll have to admit it is gratifying to see our Christian brothers and sisters coming to grips with what the Disney of the '90s is all about."
Church groups aren't the only ones speaking out about the Michael Eisner version of the company Walt Disney built. Eisner is Disney's CEO.
Stephen Strang, founder of Charisma Magazine, is the latest to weigh in with his views on the Disney situation. In his August editorial Strang writes: "...The Baptists say they will wait a year before calling the boycott in order to try to reason with Disney first. I applaud the Baptists for showing restraint. But so far, Disney hasn't feigned much concern.
"Judging by local media attention, Orlando tourism officials are afraid a Christian boycott would hurt. But Disney seems to think it can get along just fine without the millions of Christians who would otherwise spend their vacations with Mickey and Company.
"Since Walt Disney World is in my backyard so to speak, I'm paying extra attention to the controversy. I sincerely hope the Walt Disney Co. will change - just as Universal Studios did after Christians boycotted its parks and products over the blasphemous film The Last Temptation of Christ.
"But if it won't, I don't think it should be just the Southern Baptists who boycott. I think all Christians - and all Americans who favor family values - should boycott not only the theme parks but also all Disney products.
"By standing with our Southern Baptist brothers and sisters, we can show Disney that Christians expect them to be a part of the solution to the moral decay in America - not part of the problem."
Currently, there are approximately 27 million people associated with congregations who have
adopted official resolutions calling either for an all out boycott or at least prayerful
reconsideration of support of Disney.
Charisma, 8/96; Hollywood Reporter, 11/15/96