News Articles

Advocates of Disney boycott say SBC reflects Christian attitude

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Is the Southern Baptist Convention, in its boycott of The Disney Company, being mean-spirited and homophobic (fearful of homosexuals)?
Yes, say various critics of the SBC stance.
No, reply boycott defenders, saying the boycott seeks to reflect both God’s holiness and his love.
The question was tackled by Timothy Patterson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Glen St. Mary, Fla., in a pro-boycott “Viewpoints” column in the Florida Baptist Witness newsjournal July 24.
Bill White, pastor of University Baptist Church, Coral Gables, wrote an accompanying column opposing the Disney boycott.
“Will the lost world understand what we are doing and saying? Probably not,” Patterson wrote of the resolution adopted by messengers to the SBC’s June annual meeting in Dallas endorsing a boycott, in keeping with Christian stewardship, to counter Disney’s promotion of “immoral ideologies such as homosexuality, infidelity, and adultery, which are biblically reprehensible and abhorrent to God and His plan for the world that He loves.”
“Will all of the Body of Christ understand why we are doing this?” Patterson continued, answering, “We have never been in full agreement on any one subject, and I doubt that will change.”
Patterson then recounted: “Someone told me that because of this boycott we will offend the homosexual community and lessen our chances of winning them to Christ.
“It is not my desire or the desire of our convention to alienate or offend anyone. We should, and must, be about the business of winning the lost world to Jesus,” Patterson wrote. “Some will perceive this as being unloving, but in reality, to remain complacent and unresponsive to the blatant propagation of immorality is the epitome of unloving. If I have to make a choice in offending a lost man or offending and hurting one of our young Christians or our children by not standing up for what is morally and biblically right, I will choose to offend the lost man according to the principles taught in 1 Corinthians 8:9-13,” a Bible passage about mature believers being careful with the beliefs of newer believers.
Patterson urged: “… we must not lose our passion for the holiness of God.”
“We will get ‘bloody’ over this one,” he acknowledged. “It is not something my flesh or my social respectability wants to do, but we cannot sit by idly while the anti-God forces of this world march on.”
White, meanwhile, contended that the Disney boycott is “damaging to our evangelistic witness.”
According to White: “This boycott and other efforts like it, though outwardly appearing ‘righteous,’ produce the opposite result. Instead of being drawn to Christ, people are repelled by what seems to be self-righteous judgmentalism. The church is ridiculed and people easily discount any other message we have to share through guilt by association. For this reason, such a boycott is damaging to the central Kingdom cause. Biblically speaking, real life change and transformation come from the Holy Spirit, not through the external coercion of political and economic maneuvering (John 3:3, 2 Cor. 5:17, John 8:36, Gal. 5:16-25).”
The boycott resolution adopted by the SBC notes, “… this is not an attempt to bring The Disney Company down, but to bring Southern Baptists up to the moral standard of God,” because: “Everything Christians possess of time, money, and resources is given to them by God as a stewardship for which they will give an account before a holy God … .”
The resolution urges “all Southern Baptists to graciously communicate the reasons for their individual actions to The Disney Company and other companies,” noting that Disney “is not the only such provider” of morally objectionable movies and television programs.
Beyond the pro-con articles in the Florida Baptist Witness, the questions of mean-spiritedness and homophobia have stirred a range of reflections in other media.
SBC President Tom Elliff, writing in the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger newsjournal July 31, noted: “Nothing in our resolution speaks in a demeaning or debasing way about any member of society. But Southern Baptists believe homosexuality is a choice — a very poor and sinful choice with particularly devastating consequences. And we believe that the answer for the homosexual, as with us all, is found in the deliverance Christ offers.”
Tim Wildmon, vice president of the American Family Association, which launched its Disney boycott in 1995, responding to those who say homosexuals can best be reached for Christ through love and prayer, reminded in a column, “Certainly Jesus Christ — as evidenced by his words to the woman caught in adultery — can forgive and restore. However, he also said ‘go and sin no more.'”
Conservative film critic Michael Medved, however, described the Disney boycott as “the wrong target, the wrong strategy at emphatically the wrong time” in a June 20 address to the American Public Philosophy Institute in Washington, as reported by The Washington Times.
Medved, author of the book, “Hollywood vs. America,” said the boycott “will only make our side look silly,” as Southern Baptists will be portrayed as “ranting homophobes … drooling Southern preachers of hate vs. Mickey Mouse,” The Times reported.
In the same address, however, Medved cited a homosexual magazine’s report of a long-term strategy of the homosexual movement to nudge the American public toward indifference regarding homosexuality rather than emotion. “Central to this strategy would be the use of TV,” Medved was quoted as saying. According to one homosexual activist group, prime-time TV currently features nearly 30 homosexual, bisexual and transgender regular characters. Medved, in his address, noted the average household has a TV turned on an average of seven hours a day, while the average American watches TV an average of four hours a day.
Elliff, on another boycott-related concern, recounted in his Oklahoma Baptist Messenger column: “Some have questioned the advisability of calling for such a strong statement of concern as a boycott, suggesting that we should simply stick to sharing the Gospel and not involve ourselves in moral issues. Apparently they have forgotten our Lord’s command to be ‘salt and light’ in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. Or, they may not remember that Jesus reserved His highest compliment for John the Baptist who lost his life for speaking out against the immorality of a popular political figure.”
Patterson, in the Florida Baptist Witness, also wrote: “Our Heavenly Father has called us to be salt and light in this world (Matt. 5:13-14). We are to be the moral conscience of our nation. Throughout the history of this great nation, the church has been its ethical and moral voice and has called her people to remain true to the standard of holiness in God’s Word.” On Disney in particular, Patterson noted, “There are many companies that promote immoral and objectionable agendas, but I do not know of any who are doing so under the historical pro-family banner as is Disney. When we support Disney by purchasing its products, attending its movies and theme parks, we are funding its agenda.”
According to Elliff, “Would Disney receive the message if we simply patronized their ‘acceptable’ programming and refused to purchase or attend the other?” No, Elliff answered, citing a recent lawsuit brought against Disney by a former executive. “Figures released in connection with the suit indicate the animated cartoon section of Disney has literally propped up the rest of the organization,” said Elliff, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla. “When you purchase the ‘acceptable’ you are paying for the objectionable.”