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Pastor’s songs for children seek to dispel Disney ‘myths’

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (BP)–Allen Atkins remembers feeling a little uneasy after seeing the Disney movie, “The Little Mermaid,” years ago. As the characters sang and danced throughout the animated feature, the pastor, now leading Emmanuel Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala., marveled at the seemingly positive images he could enjoy with his children.
But at the conclusion of the movie, after a character waves a magic wand and creates a miraculous rainbow, he overheard a 4-year-old girl next to him say something quite profound. “She leaned over and said, ‘But Mama, only Jesus can make a rainbow.'”
That stuck with him. And in the fall of 1995, after many hours of prayer and contemplation, Atkins woke up in the middle of the night one evening and began writing the songs that would become “The Truth Behind the Tales,” a 10-song compilation that uses catchy sing-alongs to educate children and parents on the reality he said is often ignored in the films.
“I’m not declaring war on Disney,” Atkins said. “I just want children to know the truth.”
Atkins said there are discrepancies between the animated stories and the biblical and historical facts. His tape points out a few, including the story of Pocahontas.
In the Disney movie, “Pocahontas” married Capt. John Smith, whose life she later saved. Also, the title character is portrayed as having the ability to communicate with nature, even gaining wisdom and insight from the spirit of a dead grandmother.
Atkins said historically it is well-documented that the Indian princess married a man named John Rothe, who led her to become a Christian. In fact, Atkins noted, there are about 300 descendants of Pocahontas in the Chesapeake Bay area who are Baptists.
These truths are made evident in the song, “Princess of the Indians,” when Atkins sings:
God is the great Holy Spirit
But He doesn’t indwell rocks or trees,
He comes to love us and guide us
He desires to fill you and me.
Atkins’ tape also uncovers the messages of reincarnation he believes are hidden in “The Lion King.”
With his song, “The Lion, The King,” Atkins uses the life of Christ (born a baby, died a lamb, arose a lion and a king) to counter the ideas contained within the movie’s hit song, “The Circle of Life,” by Elton John.
The tape even plays off of the song, “Be Our Guest,” from the movie, “The Beauty and the Beast,” with a number titled, “Be His Guest.” An excerpt:
The Master’s set the banquet table
And your presence He requests,
Leave your cares far behind you
You are welcome, be His guest!
Atkins said he felt inspired to write the songs because many find their ability to perceive the truth dulled at these movies. Christians cannot stay blind to the examples of pantheism displayed in “Pocahontas” and New Age beliefs exhibited in “The Lion King,” the pastor said.
“As parents we have to have discernment about the images and messages our children are presented,” he said. “Most of what they see is anything but biblical.”
The tape, produced by Atkins and John Mandeville (who wrote the hit single “Jesus Will Still Be There” for contemporary Christian artists Point of Grace), became available in February and can be ordered through various Christian bookstores or through Circlewood Music, LLC, P.O. Box 1222, Northport, AL 35476, at a cost of $12.
While now widely available, Atkins said he had some opposition in producing his tape. In a meeting with the children’s director of one of the world’s largest Christian publishing companies, Atkins said he was told that anything even appearing anti-Disney couldn’t be considered.
But thanks to support from fellow Christians — including a couple who offered to pay for the cost of production — Atkins has overcome the obstacles and now looks forward to spreading the truth he feels God has made known to him.
He said he has heard of children praying to receive Christ after hearing the tape and hopes it will be used as a tool to educate and entertain families who sit down and listen together.

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  • Jason Skinner