Is the Southern Baptist Convention's "boycott" of Disney Co. going to work?
That isn't the point.
Media pundits left, right, and center have been largely missing the point when reacting to last June's resolution by the Southern Baptists.
Most of the opinion-mongering has focused on whether boycotting (though the word was not used in the resolution) is such a good idea, whether it could work, whether the Southern Baptists are a bunch of bigots for not turning a blind eye to homosexual lifestyles, whether they're trying to be "holier than thou," etc.
What's most at stake here doesn't concern Disney's economic future. That company has its hands in so many different media kettles that it'll survive easily.
The Southern Baptist Convention, in making the vote, issued a challenge to its members and other evangelicals more than anything else. The challenge was for, as the Metro Peoria Baptist Association's Gerald Steffy put it, not "to bring Disney down, but to bring us up to God's moral standard."
"It basically was a resolution on moral stewardship of time, resources, and things like that," Steffy said.
And, contrary to the opinion of some, the convention's decision was well thought-out. In l996, the convention served notice to its members and Disney that it was considering this boycott.
During a year of waiting for Disney to make some kind of response or change, Southern Baptists across the nation were able to discuss and debate the matter.
After not hearing from Disney, they gathered this year and they made a decision.
The challenge to SBC members seems to be this: The company upon whom so many of them have relied for wholesome entertainment has decided to do things in style and substance that offend some of that denomination's most basic beliefs and standards.
Are they prepared to make the sacrifice of not doing business with and supporting this company anymore? Or is convenience more important than higher duty?
Let's face it: It's easier to buy Joey a Disney video for Christmas than to take a stand.
I admire the SBC for making that challenge, because it's not a popular type to make in society today — putting aside one's own desires and wants for something deemed to be more important. The Southern Baptists surely were aware of the thrashing they'd take in the press, even aside from that of homosexual activist groups, but they made their stand anyway.
Will the outcome of the resolution potentially hurt other Christians economically? Yes, it could hurt those who work for Disney. And I simply don't have an answer for that particular dilemma.
But I think that, no matter what one thinks about the morality of homosexuality, to understand what the SBC did, one has to take a non-materialistic, countercultural perspective.
The SBC has something the greater culture just can't understand. They shouldn't have to take a beating on it, especially for things that are beside the point. They should at least receive the same respect and tolerance that those opposed to their action are demanding of them.
This is unlikely to happen, but that shouldn't surprise anyone, least of all the Southern Baptists.
SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION
June 17-19, 1997
RESOLUTION ON MORAL STEWARDSHIP AND THE DISNEY COMPANY
WHEREAS, Everything Christians possess of time, money, and resources is given to them by God as a stewardship for which they will give an account before a holy God; and
WHEREAS, Those who serve the public in any manner also have a stewardship before God regarding their service, and those who have greater influence have greater responsibility for their stewardship and must give a greater accounting; and
WHEREAS, Many entertainment providers including, but not limited to, The Disney Company are increasingly promoting immoral ideologies such as homosexuality, infidelity, and adultery, which are biblically reprehensible and abhorrent to God and His plan for the world that He loves; and
WHEREAS, The 1996 Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution regarding these issues with a specific appeal to The Disney Company, which had long been a respected leader of family entertainment in keeping with traditional moral values; and
WHEREAS, The aforementioned resolution called for our Christian Life Commission to monitor Disney's progress in returning to its previous philosophy of producing enriching family entertainment and the Christian Life Commission has now reported that The Disney Company has not only ignored our concerns, but flagrantly furthered this moral digression in its product and policies; and
WHEREAS, We realize that we cannot do everything to stop the moral decline in our nation, but we must do what lies before us when it is right through a proper use of our influence, energies, and prayers, particularly when it affects our nations children;
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED, That the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 17-19, 1997, urge every Southern Baptist to take the stewardship of their time, money, and resources so seriously that they refrain from patronizing The Disney Company and any of its related entities, understanding that this is not an attempt to bring The Disney Company down, but to bring Southern Baptists up to the moral standard of God; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we encourage Southern Baptists to refrain from patronizing any company that promotes immoral ideologies and practices, realizing that The Disney Company is not the only such provider; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we ask our pastors and church leaders to become informed regarding these issues and teach their people accordingly, and that we urge all Southern Baptists to graciously communicate the reasons for their individual actions to The Disney Company and other companies; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, That we pray that God would use these actions to help the employees of such companies to respect the enormous stewardship they have before God, and we affirm those employees who embrace and share our concerns.
Adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention
June 17-19, 1997
Morris H. Chapman
President and Chief Executive Officer Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
Speaking for the Resolution
Following discussion at the Southern Baptist Convention which challenged the legitimacy and viability of the Resolution on Moral Stewardship and the Disney Company, Lisa Kinney, messenger from the Keene Terrace Baptist Church in Largo, Fla., offered the following:
"I met Mickey Mouse when I was a small child. Living near Orlando, I went to Walt Disney World several times a year. I have purchased the toys, I have watched the movies, and I have spent many hours involved with the Disney Company. However, six years ago I met Jesus Christ, and He changed my life. He not only saved me, but He called me and calls me to a personal holiness and purity according to His Word.
"Several years ago I became convicted by the Holy Spirit of God, that I was sinning by spending my time and money on the Disney Company. I will not visit the park, I will not buy the products, I will not support the company in any way.
"Do I think that my stand against them will change them? No, I do not. I know that it has changed me. Will a Southern Baptist boycott change the company? I don't know, but it will change us. It will affirm to us and the world that we love Jesus more than we love our entertainment.
"Jesus has called us to purity and we must take Him seriously. My pastor has told me … that we have made entertainment out of the things which Jesus has died for. If we must completely turn off our televisions, so be it! It's no great loss.
"We should always pray for these individuals and seek to witness to them, but we cannot participate in their ungodliness. Thank you."
Christian Publications, a division of Horizon Books, is offering review copies of Disney and the Bible by Perucci Ferraiuolo to Southern Baptist pastors at $4.99 — a 50% discount from the retail price. To secure a copy, contact:
William R. Goetz,V.P. Marketing and Sales
3825 Hartzdale Drive, Camp Hill, PA 17011