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SBC to Disney: Cease Gay Days for the boycott to be lifted

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Four years after the Southern Baptist Convention first targeted the Walt Disney Company with a boycott, an SBC agency has laid out what it sees as the requirements for ending the boycott: cease its promotion of homosexuality as a normative lifestyle and allow evangelicals the same access to the entertainment giant as enjoyed by the homosexual community.

Prompted by a motion made during the 2000 SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s annual report to the convention proposes four “specific, measurable expectations” the Disney Company must meet before Southern Baptists consider lifting the boycott.

The resolution, calling for Southern Baptists “to refrain from patronizing” the entertainment giant and any of its subsidiaries, was adopted by messengers to the 1997 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas. It noted, “The Disney Company has not only ignored our concerns, but flagrantly furthered this moral digression in its products and policies.”

The ERLC’s 2001 annual report calls for Disney to cease its promotion of “Gay Days” at its theme parks; halt the publication of pro-homosexual books; refrain from advocating the “radical homosexual agenda” through its broadcast venues; and “establish an advisory committee of Southern Baptists and other evangelicals” to provide Disney “advice and counsel” on their entertainment projects.

The report does not bind the convention as to how the boycott is handled, said Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “This is our trustees’ response to a motion from the convention. The convention is free to affirm, ignore or adapt these recommendations,” Land said. The motion on the SBC’s boycott of Disney was made by Jessie Sanders of Florida last year and was referred to the ERLC for response during the 2001 SBC.

The call for economic action against Disney and other Hollywood studios can only be rescinded or modified by a vote of the Southern Baptist Convention. The resolution known best for its call to boycott Disney urged Southern Baptists “to take the stewardship of their time, money, and resources so seriously” that they would withhold support of “any company that promotes immoral ideologies and practices.”

In a move unrelated to this report, Disney officials announced June 11 that the Disney Channel would no longer feature music videos and concert specials. According to a USA Today report, Disney Channel general manager Rich Ross indicated that “increasingly risque videos” at least partially contributed to the kid-oriented channel’s change of policy.

In other news, Disney announced in March their intention to cut their workforce by 4,000 employees company-wide. The Los Angeles Times reported that 3,000 Disney employees opted for the severance packages and voluntarily left the company. According to the news report, the media conglomerate will trim its workforce by an additional 1,000 worldwide by the end of July.

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  • Dwayne Hastings