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Newspaper editorial ventures: ‘Boycott may be taking its toll’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“Critics may have been premature when they scoffed at the Southern Baptist boycott of Walt Disney Co.”
So said The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville in a Sunday editorial, “Boycott may be taking its toll,” July 13 — less than a week before a USA Weekend magazine nationwide vote tallied 49.5 percent of 107,000 readers who responded as favoring a boycott of the entertainment conglomerate.
Also from the SBC-Disney front, evangelical leader Charles Colson has stated he is participating in the boycott, while leaders of the Church of the Nazarene and Presbyterian Church in America have voiced their concerns over Disney’s moral direction.
Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and a Southern Baptist church member, mentioned his commitment in his Aug. 7 “Breakpoint” national radio program.
Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union, with a Sunday circulation of 250,000, continued in its 163-word editorial:
“The Associated Press reports the company’s stock is not doing well, its theme park attendance is flat, and its ABC network is struggling.” The newspaper also noted the animated film, “Hercules,” was “slumping.”
“Of course, some of these problems may be unrelated to the boycott,” the newspaper said. “And even if the boycott is responsible, it still has not stood the test of time.
“Nevertheless, as Disney may already be learning, it is not a good idea for a business to offend a core group of customers — or for critics to brand a boycott a failure before it even begins,” The Times- Union concluded.
The Church of the Nazarene, about the time the SBC adopted its boycott stance in June, took action at its 24th General Assembly in San Antonio, Texas. Delegates approved a letter by the denomination’s Christian Action Committee to be sent to Disney chairman Michael Eisner about Disney’s new morality.
Ed Robinson, chairman of the Nazarene committee, and the denomination’s general secretary, Jack Stone, wrote to Eisner:
“In previous days, the Disney name was synonymous with wholesome entertainment geared toward persons of all ages and value orientations. In short, the Disney corporate name was trusted to provide quality, decent entertainment for families and children throughout the world.
“Recently that reputation has been jeopardized by the diversification of Disney’s productions through the Disney Corporation and its subsidiaries like Miramax, Hyperion Press, and the American Broadcasting Company,” the Nazarene leaders continued. “Frankly, much of what has been produced over the past five years has not only bordered on the questionable, but has been explicitly immoral. This assessment is not an isolated one. We are joining with many other religious and community groups who have voiced similar concerns.”
The Nazarene leaders informed Eisner that the denomination is “publishing an open letter to our constituency, informing them of this official request that you seriously consider the recent developments of the Disney Corporation, and return to the moral values on which the Corporation first established its mission. We are also advising our constituents around the world to diligently monitor all Disney offerings and proactively respond accordingly in their entertainment and investment choices.
“Please be assured of our commitment in this effort,” the Nazarene leaders told Eisner. “We strongly urge you to reconsider the present course of action and guide the Disney Corporation back to the place of respect it once held. Our goal is not the ruin of the Disney Corporation. Our hope is that you will reestablish the Disney name to the trusted esteem it once had throughout the world.”
In the Presbyterian Church in America, its top officer, Paul R. Gilchrist, stated clerk of the General Assembly, cited Disney in an Aug. 15 letter to PCA pastors and elders across the country addressing various denominational matters.
“It has become clear that the Disney Corporation is on a deliberate course of promoting the homosexual agenda and marginalizing the evangelical and conservative church and making them seem irrelevant to our culture,” Gilchrist wrote.
“It’s interesting that since the SBC boycott was announced, Disney stock has gone down 8-10%,” Gilchrist observed. “Imagine the potential impact if all Christians really took this matter seriously as a declaration of war and responded actively. Brothers and sisters in Christ, the ball is in each of our courts.”
At Disney-owned ABC-TV, meanwhile, The New York Times reported Aug. 14 the network is laying off nearly 200, or nearly 4 percent, of its 5,000 employees. The newspaper said analysts saw the action as part of “a continuing evaluation of the network in light of its under- performance in the last two years.” An ABC spokeswoman, however, described the layoffs as part of the network’s normal budget process.