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Disney stock, ‘Hercules’ slip; boycott just one of Disney woes

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–As Wall Street stock prices continue soaring to new records, The Disney Company has become a notable exception.
The nation’s media has taken notice. The New York Times, for example, reported July 10 the price of Disney stock “has slipped 9.7 percent from its 52-week high of $85.375 a share on May 12 to close yesterday at $77.0625.”
The Dow Jones industrial average, meanwhile, was hovering near 8,000 in mid-July, up from an unprecedented 7,000-mark just months earlier.
Meanwhile, Disney’s latest animated feature, “Hercules,” tallied $58 million in its first two weeks in theaters — a “poor showing,” according to The New York Times article — roughly equal to last year’s slump with “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” compared to “Pocahontas” and “The Lion King” the previous two years.
More troubles may be ahead — of Disney’s own making. After its self-congratulatory transformation of “Ellen” into network TV’s first lead homosexual character this spring, a move applauded by the homosexual rights movement and deeply grieved by numerous evangelicals, Disney’s ABC-TV will feature a sitcom about a parish priest, titled “Nothing Sacred,” this fall at 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursdays.
Disney/ABC’s description of the show:
“It’s tough being a priest in the ’90s. Just ask Father Ray. In one morning alone, he’s nearly been fired for advising a pregnant teenager to follow her own instincts. He’s had to turn down a bribe in the confessional, even though he’s desperate for money to keep his church afloat. His college flame has just walked back into his life and re-ignited old passions. And now his mentor is asking him to deliver a sermon proving the existence of God. How should he know if God exists? … he hasn’t even finished the book yet!”
ABC calls the lead character “one of the most accessible and loving priests around. He’s been cursed with the God-given gift for touching people’s souls. If only Ray could find God to sooth his soul.”
Additionally, Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California will continue to be a key focus of the homosexual movement’s yearly “gay days” — which have left vacationing families shocked after not being alerted by Disney sales people of the multitudes of homosexuals on hand for the “celebration.” A spokeswoman for GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination) stated in a mid-June TV interview in Dallas the homosexual rights movement has focused on the parks because they are the most well-known in America, there are only two of them, they’re noted for clean family entertainment, and “and that’s what we are.”
On July 3, the day after a New York Post report on Disney’s near- 10-percent decline, the American Family Association issued a statement declaring the Southern Baptist Convention’s Disney boycott “is beginning to put heat on the mammoth corporation.”
“As momentum builds for this boycott,” said AFA Vice President Tim Wildmon, “I think we’ll see more and more people ending their financial relationship with a company that no longer shares their values.”
The New York Times article predicted, however, Disney should be able to “withstand … conservative Christian protests.” The paper attributed Disney’s struggles to management upheavals at ABC, the disappointing “Hercules” box office and less-than-hoped-for theme park attendance. “None of these issues is so dramatic that stock analysts are racing to take Disney off their recommended lists,” The Times stated, and Disney growth should again reach its average of 18 percent annually. In June, a CNN reporter dismissed the SBC boycott by noting Southern Baptists represent just 5 percent of the U.S. population. (With 15.7 million members among the nation’s 263 million citizens, the figure is more correctly 6 percent.)
A poll reported by the Associated Press June 22 found that 28 percent of 753 adults surveyed by telephone agreed Disney has moved too far from wholesome family entertainment, and 29 percent said they’d support a Disney boycott. The poll was taken less than a week after an SBC boycott of Disney was approved by messengers to the SBC’s annual meeting in Dallas.
The AFA initiated its Disney boycott in 1995 over concerns since reiterated by the SBC, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian Church in America and other denominational groups about the company’s drift from family values and its embrace of the homosexual movement, such as Disney chairman Michael Eisner’s membership on the board of trustees of Hollywood Supports, a key homosexual advocacy group in the entertainment industry.
Reaction to the SBC Disney boycott among the nation’s media, however, has largely been negative or noncommittal.
A notable exception is Cal Thomas, a nationally syndicated conservative columnist who wrote: “When growing numbers of denominations are adopting a cafeteria theology, in which members are allowed to reject the vegetable of fidelity in favor of the dessert of licentiousness, just to build the membership, it’s encouraging that at least one is willing to suffer ridicule from the elites on a matter of principle.”
Thomas observed: “Funny thing about ridicule. The same satirists and editorialists who are quick to mock the Southern Baptists are far more respectful when one of their own ideological brethren recommends boycotts or other actions deemed appropriate for achieving policy goals. One thinks of Greenpeace or various civil rights organizations; the boycotts in the past by women’s groups upset by states that would not ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, and boycotts against companies doing business with South Africa and those providing materials for the Vietnam War.
“In each case, the question was less about the effectiveness of the action than it was the nobility, courage and morality of the stand,” Thomas wrote.
“For years, William Wilberforce in the English Parliament stood alone in his opposition to Britain’s involvement in the slave trade. He was mocked and told his position was futile. On his deathbed, he learned that Parliament had come around to his point of view,” Thomas continued. “Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol is lined with marble memorials to men and women of courage who often stood against what was popular and upheld what was right and virtuous. America’s Founders risked their lives and fortunes, but because they stood for principle against seemingly impossible odds, none lost his sacred honor.”
In The Wall Street Journal, columnist Holman W. Jenkins Jr. noted on June 24:
“Disney finds itself in hot water with the Southern Baptists precisely because Disney — not Time Warner or Sony or Fox — presented itself as the avatar of ‘family entertainment,’ while out some unmarked side door the conglomerate was shoveling something else. If customers now want to complain because they see the company moving in ‘anti- Christian and anti-family direction,’ Disney can thank itself. It trained them to expect better.”
Among editors of state Baptist papers, Don Kirkland of South Carolina’s Baptist Courier, noted the range of reactions to the Disney boycott among Baptists, then suggested, “The Disney boycott, however it is observed, will serve a useful purpose if it causes us to look seriously at how and where we spend our entertainment dollars. And it may help us answer another important question: Just how much of a Christian’s money ought to be spent on entertainment anyway?”
Wildmon, in a column for the next AFA Journal, challenged Christians critical of the Disney boycott, stating: “… boycotts are voluntary. No laws have been passed. No one is twisting anyone else’s arm. If you don’t like the idea of boycotting Disney, then don’t. It’s up to each individual and each family.
“But can’t you find something better to do than criticize your brothers and sisters who see America, the land we love and want to pass on to our children, ‘slouching toward Gomorrah,’ as Judge Robert Bork describes it? Can’t you find somewhere else to aim your fire than at those of us who wish to uphold virtue, righteousness and biblical morality in America and who don’t want to be a part of Disney bringing Ellen out of the closet?

“We’re only expressing ourselves in a scripturally permissible and thoroughly American way — with our prayers and with our pocketbooks. We’re not the bad guys.”
Wildmon reiterated a sampling of complaints with Disney: ABC’s “Relativity” airing “network television’s most passionate open mouth kiss between two women;” Miramax films such as “Priest,” which film critic Michael Medved described as “the most profound hostility to the Catholic Church I have seen in 15 years;” Hyperion Press books such as “Out & About Gay Travels,” a line of travel guides for homosexuals; and the signing of Danzig, a singer whose music, according to The Los Angeles Times, is “laced with satanic themes.”
“It’s Disney who left us,” Wildmon wrote. “We didn’t leave them.”
Among critics of the boycott, Mark Wingfield, editor of Kentucky Baptists’ Western Recorder, wrote: “… the zealots among us are demanding that the world conform to their standards rather than working to ensure that they personally conform to God’s standards. … When we attempt to control the world, we deny the power of Jesus to change the world. Jesus did not operate from a position of power, but of love. If we really believe what he taught, we ought to shun power and seek love as well.”
Wingfield asked: “Would Jesus go to Disney World? Absolutely. And he probably would go on Gay Day because that’s where he could do the most good. He would walk among all the people, inviting them to journey from their small world to God’s Tomorrowland.”
Toby Druin, editor of Texas’ Baptist Standard, editorialized: “I don’t like Disney’s accommodation of homosexuality. I don’t like ‘gay days’ at the theme parks. I don’t like the implied approval of the homosexual lifestyle with the extension of insurance benefits to ‘domestic partners,’ although I know people who do not have such insurance coverage wind up at county facilities where tax money — yours and mine — pays their bills. I don’t like the fact that a company which got rich on people paying for family entertainment has thumbed its nose at the kinds of families that made it successful. But is that not what Christians should expect from people who don’t know Jesus Christ as Savior? Is a boycott the way to address the problem, or would it be better to show them that Christians may not like their behavior but still love them as people made in Christ’s image and have something better to offer?”
Druin continued, “Over the last 18 years, Southern Baptist Christians have been marked by fussing and fighting among themselves and now by wanting to shun the company that has provided more family entertainment than any other in history. We’ve come a long way since the days when the chief characteristic of Christians was ‘see how they love each other.’ I know we must take a stand against sin, but we will win the world to Christ faster by building bridges rather than walls.”
Michael Clingenpeel, editor of Virginia Baptists’ Religious Herald, editorialized: “Ultimately the issue of whether to boycott Disney rests with every Baptist, as it should. There is no need to insist that one stance or the other is morally right or wrong.
“Jesus tossed money changers out of the Temple, but he also dined with sinners. Since that time his followers have endured an unending struggle over whether the path of faithfulness involves separation from the world or engagement with it. Either way one can be faithful to the teachings of Scripture and reveal the person of Jesus,” Clingenpeel wrote.
With the issue of homosexuality central to the thrust behind a Disney boycott, Frances Meeker, religion editor of the Nashville Banner daily newspaper, observed: “The issue is steeped in controversy because the Bible is interpreted in two different ways — conservatively or liberally.
“Conservatives take the Bible literally, believing that the entire book was inspired by God and that every word in it is God’s infallible, revealed truth.
“Liberals lean to the nonliteral view, contending it is a book of inspiration but contains many inconsistencies and should not be taken word for word.”