A look at
the Disney Boycott
publicized boycott of Disney, started by the Southern Baptist
Convention (SBC), has gained a lot of press. As you would expect, by
a typically liberal biased media, much of the press coverage has been
blatantly negative. Headlines have run from "Anti-Disney
Baptists Living in Fantasyland" to "Baptists Shun Gays".
resolution called for its members to "refrain from patronizing
The Disney Company and any of its related entities." Why did
they feel this was necessary? Because Disney now offers health
insurance to partners of homosexual employees and hosts a one weekend
gay and lesbian emphasis at it's theme parks (i.e. Gay Days). Disney
makes it clear that it neither sponsors or promotes the event just
Christian denominations and organizations have since voiced their
whole-hearted, or limited support, of the SBC boycott. Yet, not all
Christians support such a move. Is there perhaps any justification
for their lack of action? Let's examine the facts.
all we must eliminate one faction from this evaluation. That is those
professed believers who would not stand for any thing -- one way or
the other, or perhaps they despise controversy (even for the sake of
the truth), or are too complacent to really care. Beyond these
individuals there are Christians that are passionately for, or
against, this boycott -- and this is where we will confine our examination.
opposing factions would agree that they are concerned about any
promotion of a life-style which they hold to be Biblically wrong. But
from here, two different courses of action emerge.
supporters are quick to point out earlier successes through
boycotts... Television shows have been canceled or altered due to
their action. But often they fail to mention that the majority of
past boycotts have been fundamentally different
. In previous actions they have targeted advertisers. Getting any
conglomerates attention always takes hitting their pocket book. It's
fast and effective -- no advertisers, no program -- regardless of how
much any corporation stands by it's actions.
opposed to this boycott are quick to point out that this boycott is
at the offending corporation and to date is being completely ignored
by Disney. But even more importantly, they cite very real questions
that need answers. Like, where were Christians when most major
corporations in the US and Canada adopted homosexual benefits in the
past? Disney was not even close to the first to enact such polices.
So why is Disney being singled out for action now? Some point out the
Gay Days at the theme parks. Yet, again, Disney is not the first here
either. Paramount has hosted similar gatherings at their parks as
well. Why not boycott them? To some, acting now against one selected
organization smacks of hypocrisy.
to the possible financial impact of this boycott. Disney can easily
ignore it indefinitely. Well into the boycott, one spokesperson, Bill
Warren, stated that their attendance at the Orlando park is at an all
time high: "Everyone here has asked the question (of possible
boycott impact) and discussed it, but we're having record
attendance." You see, Disney knows that the majority of
Christians (in or out of the participating denominations) will never
truly back up their words with actions. They know this even from
surveys completed over the last few years, which show Christians'
entertainment choices as being no different than those outside the
church! This has given them proof that most talk
against wrong content, themes, etc., is just that -- talk. So why
listen? It's not going to affect their bottom line, like those pesky
attacks through the weak-link of advertisers. How many Christians are
really willing to give up all
their Disney videos and theme park trips, let alone ABC-TV, The
Disney Channel, ESPN, Lifetime Television and A&E? And like their
networks, the diversity in related production companies and
businesses also defy boycotting... Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood
Pictures, Caravan Pictures, Mirimax, and don't forget the NHL Mighty
Ducks and baseball's Anaheim Angels. Fact is, hardly anyone
(excluding those who didn't watch TV & movies in the first place)
will go cold-turkey. Disney's counting on it.
objection to this boycott comes from two related perspectives.
Firstly, why did we wait to complain about Disney only
on the issue of homosexuality? Why has the church, by and at large,
been silent about other equally condemned sins featured and
popularized within this entertainment giants' productions. Perhaps
Christians have become accustomed to themes of adultery, pre-marital
sex, rebellion, violence and the like?! When we single out one
specific sin and ignore many equally vile sins, what message do we
give? Secondly, if we're going to boycott Disney for anti-biblical
practices, when do we start boycotting the multitudes of additional
corporations with similar views and practices? How about those
secular giants that own an abundance of "Christian"
subsidiaries? When did you, or your church, last buy a book by
Zondervan Publishing House, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch -- owner
of the Fox television network. This is not one isolated example. Most
of the Christian music market is now owned by secular corporations,
and in the realm of reading, even major Bible publishers. This
argument could be expanded to encompass the host of mainline
corporations that are owned by cults (especially the Mormons). A
validly raised fact is, if we start boycotting one, where do we stop?
voiced concern has been the potential impact on the thousands who
work for Disney and it's related companies -- including Christians.
And there are a significant number of Christians. (Are boycotters
asking them to quit their jobs? -- and if so, are they going to help
them with more than words?) If the boycott financially worked (which,
so far, it hasn't), who might really feel it's pinch? The high paid
executive or the everyday worker?
consideration, voiced by a number, raises a valid scriptural concern.
Does not God call us -- Christians -- to be salt and light to a world
that needs to hear His Truth? (Matthew 5:13-16). If so, how does
standing on the outside, throwing rocks (so to speak), work to reach
the lost (including the gays) encompassed in this action? Throughout
many "Christian" actions this has been the case; from
pro-life stands to political crusades. For example, if we're going to
oppose abortion (which we should), then we need to reach out to the
unwed mothers, etc., with more than angry words -- rather with love,
material support. In the case of Disney, how does boycotting their
theme park and hurling angry words at the participants in their
"Gay Days" work to reach these lost? Fact is, both Disney
and Paramount host two-day Christian gatherings at their theme parks
as well. (Disney Orlando's 14th Night of Joy was held on September
14-15, 97). Others have had the opportunity to take Christian
outreach groups into their parks for corporate and personal
witnessing (as did two large youth groups, that we know, this
summer). Functionally, their policies have been to allow virtually
anyone in, on an equal basis. Can we really expect more from secular
concerns? (Even many schools are more closed than that).
apostle Paul went into some of the most Godless cities of His day, we
didn't rally local believers to boycott the owners and corporations
which profited from the pagan entertainment industry found all around
them. He naturally expected, and advised them, to personally not
participate in things that are wrong (as should we) -- but, suggested
that they could keep on shopping where they were (1 Corinthians 10:19-31,
esp. 25). Most of all, he focused on the real job at hand...
proclaiming Jesus Christ in word and deed (1 Corinthians 9:16-23).
Sometimes these high profile actions take the focus off of our real purpose.
has said, "wouldn't we be more effective, if we attended during
Gay Days (as it is open to the general public, just like their
Christian days) and witnessed to those attending. We can still take a
strong stand against sin, while reaching out to the sinners."
Perhaps this would truly be making the most of every opportunity.
(Ephesians 5:15-16, Colossians 4:5)
A lot to
think about? We hope so. With scripture warning us to "not
follow the crowd in doing wrong" (Exodus 23:2) we must be
careful to examine all
of our actions. Let's be on the side that is doing right... by God's standards.
Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries, (c) 1997. Feel free to
duplicate as long as the source is cited.