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Resignation of Disney’s Eisner sought by Christian organization

FOREST, Va. (BP)–A campaign for the resignation of Disney chairman Michael Eisner has been launched by a Christian organization — the first such effort since the start of an evangelical boycott of the entertainment conglomerate in 1995.
The Christian Action Network, based in Forest, Va., is urging Eisner to resign — or Disney’s board of directors to fire him — utilizing its Internet website, www.christianaction.org, and e-mail. Eisner has been Disney’s chairman since 1984.
The organization’s website also includes two other e-mail petitions, one urging Disney to end its cooperation with “Gay and Lesbian Day at Walt Disney World” and another in which individuals can tell Disney they are now boycotting the company.
The organization, however, is not the first to call for Eisner’s resignation. Donald Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, called for Disney’s board of directors last year to fire Eisner.
“It’d be a good thing for Disney,” Wildmon told Baptist Press July 14. “He’s taken Disney down the wrong road. And the problem is, they’re going to get down too far before the stockholders realize what he has done.”
The Christian Action Network entered the Disney fray July 8 when its president, Martin Mawyer, displayed in a Washington news conference a night-vision videotape of two unnamed Disney employees performing onstage simulated homosexual sex acts during “Gay Days” June 4-5 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Prior to the news conference, however, the Christian Action Network had not been a noted part of the Disney boycott launched by the American Family Association in 1995 over the decline in moral and family values at the entertainment conglomerate since the days of founder Walt Disney. The boycott has since been joined by the Southern Baptist Convention (in 1997), Focus on the Family, the Assemblies of God, Concerned Women for America and other religious groups.
The Christian Action Network’s e-mail petition regarding Eisner is addressed to both him and the company’s board of directors.
By signing the petition via e-mail, an individual states: “I am shocked and outraged that you [Eisner] have turned Disney’s ‘Magic Kingdom’ into Sodom and Gomorrah while turning your back on families who have built the Disney Empire! The activities that are taking place in Disney World during ‘Gay Day’ are repulsive and vile. But to have Disney dancers performing homosexual dance acts are a betrayal to families and children across America.”
The petition concludes by “demanding your immediate resignation and termination for the great harm you have done to Disney, American families and morals!”
Founded in 1990, the Christian Action Network states on its Internet site its mission is, “To defend the American family and to advocate traditional American principles of religious liberty, public virtue and good government.”
In the other e-mail petitions at the organization’s Internet site:
— A plea for Disney to end its cooperation with “Gay Days” at Disney World is directed to Eisner, with signers telling him, “Not only does Gay and Lesbian Day conflict with the wholesome family entertainment tradition started by Walt Disney himself, but it serves as a clear endorsement of the radical gay agenda by your company. You have even allowed the organizers of Gay and Lesbian Day to portray such beloved Disney characters as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck as homosexual lovers, and Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck as lesbians. By allowing Gay and Lesbian Day to be held each year at Walt Disney World, you are blatantly endorsing and promoting a dangerous and destructive lifestyle to millions of American children and their families. Even worse, Gay and Lesbian Day traditionally takes on a grotesque and unwholesome atmosphere at Disney World, with overt displays of affection among homosexuals, along with the presence of cross-dressers, driving traditional families away from the park.” Eisner is urged: “Please send a signal to the gay community that they may no longer use a nationally renowned, family oriented theme park to advertise their destructive lifestyle and promote their agenda.”
— Signers can declare on a third selection at the Christian Action Network’s website their commitment “to continue [to] boycott until Disney STOPS the promotion of homosexuality, drugs, suicide, illicit sex and violence by all its entities — including Disney theme parks, employee policies, videos, record labels and pay-per-view television.” To Eisner and Disney’s board of directors, the petition states, “I am fed-up with the great harm and filth Disney is spewing on America. While you pretend to promote ‘family ideals and fun,’ behind the scenes you are engaging in a cultural war against traditional family values. Your participation in ‘Gay Day’ at Disney World, your promotion of homosexual characters on ABC, and the suicide, drugs and violence promoted by your ‘Hollywood Records’ label, ‘Touchstone Pictures’ and ‘Viewers Choice’ pay-per-view have disgraced Disney and leave only one choice: … TO BOYCOTT DISNEY AND ALL YOUR PRODUCTS.”
While most of the Christian organizations involved in the boycott have refrained from personalizing Eisner in voicing concerns about Disney’s moral drift, Eisner has at times ventured toward caustic comments about Christians.
In a “60 Minutes” interview in November 1997 after the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution endorsing the boycott at its annual meeting in June, Eisner told interviewer Leslie Stahl that Disney’s detractors are “nuts” for targeting the company for punitive action.
Said Eisner, “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.”
And in an interview on “The Today Show” in April 1998, Eisner took aim at a 1996 SBC resolution on Jewish evangelism, erroneously telling interviewer Katie Couric the same “splinter group” leading the SBC into a boycott of Disney also had “recommended that they convert the Jews. That was something that hasn’t been recommended since the ‘40s in Europe.”
Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, described Eisner’s “thinly veiled” comparison of the SBC to “Nazi Germany’s horrific persecution of Jews” from 1933 to the late 1940s as “offensive” and “outrageous.”