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Land: ’60 Minutes’ fails to show offensive products of Disney

WASHINGTON (BP)–The CBS News program “60 Minutes” failed to show viewers what products Southern Baptists and others have found so offensive as to fuel a boycott of The Disney Company, a Southern Baptist Convention official said of the Nov. 23 report.
Meanwhile, Disney head Michael Eisner called critics of one of his company’s movies “nuts” but said he would meet with those who are boycotting the giant entertainment conglomerate. He also denied the boycott is having any financial impact.
In an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl, Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Disney is “pushing a Christian-bashing, family bashing, pro-homosexual agenda.
“And you need to understand that when you take your money and you go to the theme parks or you rent the animated features or you go to the animated features,” Land said, “you’re helping them subsidize the material in other venues that is going to be an attack on your values and your beliefs.”
While “60 Minutes” showed Land discussing criticisms of animated feature favorites “The Little Mermaid” and “Pocahontas,” Land expressed disappointment in a Nov. 24 Baptist Press interview that no mention was included of products distributed by Disney subsidiaries that helped lead to this year’s SBC resolution calling for a boycott.
“Clearly, they didn’t spend more than a nano-second on the other stuff, and that’s very disappointing,” he said.
The “other stuff,” Land said, includes “Priest,” which portrays a group of Catholic priests as committing homosexuality and adultery and was distributed by Disney-owned Miramax Films; the lesbian-themed “Chicks in White Satin,” produced by Disney-owned Hollywood Pictures, and the book “Growing Up Gay in America” from Disney-owned Hyperion Press. He discussed some of these products in his two-and-a-half hour interview with Stahl, Land said.
“Those are the issues that show the pro-homosexual agenda, that show … the Christian bashing,” Land said.
The report on 60 Minutes was “better than I expected but less than I hoped,” Land said.
James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, made similar comments about the show.
“Unfortunately, ’60 Minutes’ served up softballs to Michael Eisner regarding the nature of the Disney boycott,” Dobson said before the show in a release based on a Nov. 19 CBS promotional piece on the segment. “He should have been asked: Why does Disney use its profits from Winnie-the-Pooh and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ to fund trashy films such as ‘Kids,’ ‘Priest,’ ‘Trainspotting,’ ‘Lie Down With Dogs,’ ‘Scream I and II’ and offensive programs such as (ABC’s) ‘Nothing Sacred’ and ‘Ellen’ through its subsidiaries?”
In response to Land’s charge Disney is promoting an anti-Christian, pro-homosexual agenda, Eisner told Stahl, “Well, that’s ridiculous. We’re not pushing any agenda. We are pushing in our corporate marketplace tolerance and understanding, expansiveness. We are totally onto an ethical compass, a moral compass.”
Land told BP, “If they don’t have an agenda, why are they ordering a whole season of ‘Nothing Sacred’ when it is bouncing around at the bottom of the ratings.” The new series on Disney-owned ABC has elicited criticism for its depiction of a liberal priest who has expressed uncertainty about God’s existence and fails to uphold the church’s teachings.
Dobson called Eisner’s disclaimer “disingenuous.”
When asked about “Pocahontas” by Stahl, Land said it was “another example of how they twist history. If you’ll go into the rotunda of the (United States) Capitol, you will find (a painting showing) Pocahontas was baptized as an orthodox Christian. Disney does not want to have positive portrayals of orthodox Christians.”
Eisner told Stahl when “somebody says Pocahontas is anti-Christian or anti-Jewish or anti-black or anti-Native American, I say inside, deep down, ‘They’re nuts. They really are.’
“I mean ‘Pocahontas,’ I think is one of the most pro-social movies made in the 75-year history of The Disney Company. It’s about an American legend. It’s about a Native American. It’s pro-environment. It’s about the earth. It’s about respecting one another. By the way, she didn’t become Christian in the legend until after our story ended.”
When asked on 60 Minutes if he would meet with Disney’s critics, Eisner said, “I will meet with anybody at any time when it is presented in a rational and non-media-hyped way. So my answer is absolutely.”
Land told Baptist Press, “They stiffed us in two meetings.
“If Mr. Eisner wants to meet, he needs to contact us and invite us to a meeting. And we promise not to call him nuts, and we hope he’ll refrain from calling us nuts in the future.”
Disney Executive Vice President John Cooke pulled out of two meetings scheduled with critics this summer, Land said. On the second occasion, Land and some other participants were not informed of Cooke’s cancellation until after they arrived in Washington for the meeting. A lobbyist for Disney attended the meeting in Cooke’s place but offered no plan to address the critics’ concerns. The boycotting organizations said afterward they would wait for Disney to call a meeting to show progress before attending.
When asked by Stahl if the boycott is having an effect, Eisner said, “Well, you’ve got me here on 60 Minutes trying to respond to it. So to that extent it had some effect. It hasn’t had a financial effect.”
Other reasons for the boycott by the SBC, American Family Association, Focus on the Family and other religious and pro-family organizations are Disney’s policy of providing health benefits for the partners of its homosexual employees and the “gay days” held at Disney theme parks.
About the “gay days,” Eisner said, “Homosexual organizations arranged that day themselves. We do not put signs up that say, ‘No blacks allowed,’ ‘No Jews allowed,’ ‘No homosexuals allowed.’ As long as they are discreet and whomever our guests are … handle themselves properly, dress properly, they’re welcome in our doors. And I think it would be a travesty in our country for us to exclude anybody.”
Land told Baptist Press, “We never said that gays should not be allowed to visit the park. We just said that there shouldn’t be a gay day and there should be notices put up informing people it is a gay day.”
When Stahl asked if he did not like homosexuals, Land said, “We love homosexuals. We’re commanded by the Lord to love everyone, including homosexuals. We detest homosexuality, as does the Bible, as does God.”
Why deny homosexuals health benefits? she asked.
“We’re going to deny, or do the best we can to deny, the normalization of a lifestyle that we believe is abnormal, deviant, unhealthy … (W)hen they say, as one of the producers of ‘Ellen’ did, that they feel they will have accomplished their purpose if one teenager feels more comfortable about their sexuality, it’s not ABC’s job to help children feel more comfortable when they have questions about their sexuality. And we’re exercising our right to protest it.”
Of Ellen, the ABC sitcom which made history this year when its lead character announced her homosexuality, Eisner said Disney had moved it to a later time period and put an advisory on it at times. When asked by Stahl if it were tasteful to have two women kissing on TV, as occurred recently on the show, Eisner said:
“It didn’t offend me. Does it make some people uncomfortable? Probably. Did we put an advisory on it? Yes. Would we in the future? I don’t know.”
Land also was disappointed CBS cited a poll that he called flawed that showed 55 percent of Southern Baptists did not support the boycott or the network did not at least show his response to it. The poll was done by Southern Research Group of Jackson, Miss., and commissioned by Associated Baptist Press, a news service started in 1990 and partially funded by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
The CBS News show also telecast interviews with Southern Baptists in the Orlando, Fla., area on both sides of the boycott. Walt Disney World is near Orlando.
Jim Henry, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, said his refusal to support the boycott included the concerns expressed to him by church members, apparently from non-Christians.
“‘You know, if you all are going to do this, and this is what you’re about, don’t invite me to church anymore,'” Henry said of concerns he heard. “‘I don’t want to hear about it. And anything you say I’m not interested in if this is what you’re about.'”
The report said Henry and other Southern Baptists say they have made overtures to Disney and asked for high-level meetings, but the company has not responded.
“It comes across as being arrogant when you’ve got millions of people with deep concerns, and there’s no response or very little response,” Henry told Stahl.
Dawn Pate, a Southern Baptist from Kissimmee, Fla., told Stahl her family is boycotting Disney “to set an example” for her children. Pate and her husband, William; their 14-year-old daughter, Leah, and their 10-year-old son, Travis, were shown in the interview. The Pates are members of First Baptist Church, Kissimmee.