BOYCOTT OF WALT DISNEY:
USA Weekend conducted a "quick poll" via the Internet on
1997-JUL-18 to 20, as the Southern Baptist Convention meeting was ending. 11,397
people responded. 71% opposed the boycott; 28% supported it. Their Web site
contains many varied comments, some quite amusing: 1
||"...don't force me to belive [sic] in something I don't (i.e.,
the bible). To you it is the word of God. To me it is the word of man. Those
are my beliefs and you should respect them even if you do not agree with
||"After reading the comments of those supporting the boycott, I am
leery of calling myself Christian. I am amazed so much hate can be expressed
in the name of Christ."
||"I SUPPORT THE BOYCOTT. And dont [sic] start calling people KKK
members again for making their decision on where to spend their money."
||"How in the world can someone claim to be Catholic or Baptist and
still believe that God approves of homosexuality? The Bible very clearly
teaches that homosexuality is wrong! Read about Sodem [sic] and Gamorrah, or
the lessons on marriage (between one man and one woman)."
||Hispanic boycott ends: In 1998-MAR, a Hispanic media group, the National Hispanic Media Coalition
terminated its boycott of Disney and ABC-TV, which began in 1997-APR. Their
boycott was motivated by what they saw as discrimination against Hispanics.
Chairperson Alex Nogales stated that Disney had hired or promoted 8 Hispanics
into directorships or vice presidencies. They had also contracted with more
||SBC Annual Meeting: The annual meeting was held on
JUN 9 to 11, about one year after their boycott officially started. It was located, of all places, in Salt Lake City,
UT -- the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Paige
Patterson was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention on JUN-9, by
acclamation. He is a well known leader of the conservative wing of the
denomination. He said that the SBC boycott has been misunderstood: "Southern
Baptists were speaking as much to themselves as anybody else. It was a reminder
that we need to be very careful what we choose for entertainment and, for that
matter, how much time we spend with entertainment, period." He noted
that there are many organizations who are "as deeply into sin as
Disney." He said that Disney "claims to be an organization
trying to make family life in America better." He called it a basic
integrity problem that needed to be addressed.
James Dobson, founder and president of Focus on the Family,
delivered a speech during the meeting's closing session. He commented: "Let
me just say how much I appreciate Southern Baptists and what you stand for.
Thank you. Thank you for taking a position against the Disney Corp. last year."
||The Buycott: A "Stand Our Ground" (SOG) buycott was held at Walt Disney
World and at Disney stores across the U.S. Organizers asked that gays and their
supporters make purchases at Disney outlets on 1998-JUN-5, using two dollar
bills. In this way, they felt that the Disney Company would be able to
accurately gage support. The name of the buycott, "Stand our Ground,"
was derived from two statements from conservative Christian anti-gay groups:|
||The American Family Association: "Our goal is to take back the
territory the enemy has gained."
||Operation Rescue: "We will be confronting the enemy at every gate
he is building strongholds."
The SOG organizers criticized the conservative Christian boycott against
Disney for trying to "intrude on our right as gay men and lesbians to
enjoy the same rights and privileges they would hold for themselves exclusively."
5 Organizers stressed: "This is not a
protest. If you are confronted by a protester at Walt Disney World or a Disney
store, walk away and notify a Disney employee at once. Security will deal
directly with the matter. At the Disney Stores there will be many children -
let's avoid confrontation that may frighten them. If you have no need for Disney
items many hospitals, clinics or shelters are in need of children's clothing,
toys and stuffed animals. Please consider donating some of these purchases."
The SOG organizers are declaring the buycott to be a success. Participants
visited Disney stores in every state and in some Canadian provinces. As of
JUN-28, they are very close to confirming that every store in the U.S. was
visited. The average spent by those who reported an amount, was $150. "Hundreds
of people, quietly and peacefully, made a statement with their currency or three
little letters and then gave their purchases to those in need." 7
||Counter Buycott: Operation Rescue is an activist pro-life organization that
frequently attempts to close down abortion clinics. They are now enlarging their
mandate to include efforts to prevent gays and lesbians from attaining equal
human rights. They organized a counter-buycott campaign in Orlando. 160 to 200
protesters turned out. According to the SOG organizers, "They did
receive a lot of media attention, but little if any of it was positive."
The American Family Association terminated its cooperation with Operation
Rescue over the buycott on JUN-2 for reasons unknown. There are rumors of
||"Stand our Ground" essay: Your Official Disney Boycott Site
created an anti-Stand our Ground essay on their Web site, which is a
gold mine of misinformation. 8 Almost
their entire essay ignores the SOG boycott itself, but instead attacks the SOG
director, Alana Hommel. She is an active Roman Catholic, who describes
herself as: "a housewife with four kids, two of whom I'm
home-schooling. Some of my relatives are gay, and others belong to religious
minorities, and I refuse to stand by and allow bigoted organizations to foment
hate against those I love." Ms. Hommel supports two
unrelated groups who have been prime targets of religiously motivated hate
organizations: gays and Neopagans.
Possibly because she supports minority groups and because her husband is an
Neopagan, their family's home page had links to both the SOG site and to the
CUUPS web page. 9 CUUPS is an acronym for "Covenant of Unitarian
Universalist Pagans - a special interest group within the Unitarian
Universalist Association. The UUA itself is a liberal religious group
which recognizes that its members have obtained spiritual guidance from
Christianity, Eastern religions, Judaism, Native American spirituality, Neopaganism, and
Your Official Disney Boycott Site has reached a number of
fascinating conclusions based on what they view as an interlocking web of
||because a Roman Catholic woman in New England supports both a gay and a
Neopagan site, they conclude that the SOG buycott is run by Witches. That is
one massive leap of logic!
practice an evil form of Witchcraft - a religion in which its adherents
cast evil curses to harm people. While there are some groups and individuals
who do this, Wiccans and
are not among them. To blame Wiccans is pure fantasy, with roots in the
Burning Times when Christians burned heretics alive. In fact, Wiccans are
prohibited by their Wiccan Rede from creating evil curses.
||Because the director of SOG personally supports Neopagan concerns, all
"statistics or numbers this group has published on their web"
are unreliable. We have difficulty following this logic, and write it off as
pure religious bigotry.
||That the "Church of Unitarian Universalist" (the
correct name is the Unitarian Universalist Association) is a cult.
We suspect that this will come as quite a surprise to the UUA's 300,000
members. Thomas Jefferson, a Unitarian, would be even more surprised.
||That the UUA operates a religious conspiracy: they act "as the
front door to pull in people with little or no religious faith."
This is a surprising comment, based on ignorance of the very strong faith
that most UUs have.
||The UUA identifies new "members that can be converted to
Paganism. The CUUPS organization then finally helps to convert
these people...to Paganism." All of this sounds very sinister;
however it is all fantasy.
||Gay positive website: A website "The Value of Families"
temporarily became the top rated religious site on the Internet by 1998-SEP. It "supports
equal rights for Gay and Lesbian people and supports Disney against the Southern
Baptist Boycott." 4,5|
||Stock Price: Disney's stock price reached US$109 on
1997-FEB-7. This is a significant gain from its value of approximately $65.00
shortly after the SBC boycott was announced. It later reached a peak of about
$121 on 1998-MAY-15. The boycott certainly does not appear to
have had an effect on Wall Street's confidence in Disney.|
||Financial impact: As the end of 1998 approached, MSNBC reported financial data which
indicated that the various boycotts had failed to damage the Disney Company:
"Walt Disney Co., the world’s largest entertainment company, on
Tuesday reported its best quarterly results ever, fueled by growth in
television and video distribution, strong advertising revenues, and record
crowds at Walt Disney World. Disney’s net income in the fiscal fourth
quarter, ended Sept. 30, rose 18 percent from a year earlier to $411 million
on a five-percent increase in revenues to $5.5 billion."
Neal Horsley, a commentator at the conservative Christian Creator's
Rights Party observed: "Well, the 'Christians' showed
them all right. And the message is clear: If your company wants to have its
best quarter ever, get boycotted by millions of Christians!" 3
||Arab boycott: During 1999-SEP, "Arab officials had
announced the possible Disney boycott because they feared the Israeli
exhibit at the Epcot millennium celebrations would call its capital
Jerusalem, the east of which Palestinians have claimed for themselves."
10 The 22-member Arab League decided to not
implement the boycott, after Disney assured the Arab foreign ministers that
its millennium exhibit would not refer to Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Disney Chairman and CEO, Michael Eisner, wrote: "It was never our
intent to offer a political point of view. We are an entertainment company."
||Internet Activity: In 1999-MAR, we did a quick survey, using
the AltaVista search engine, scanning for news items related to the boycott. We
found on the first few pages of printout the following hits:
||Number of "hits"
||13 (SBC boycott announced)
||3 (Disney states boycott has no effect)
||2 (both anti-boycott)
|1998-APR to 1999-MAR
It would appear that the boycott of Disney has largely fizzled out by the end
With the exception of the Presbyterian Church of America, mainline
and liberal Christian churches appear to have remained silent on the boycott. We
find this surprising, because there are fundamental moral issues of fairness
involved - particularly the desire by the religious right to force Disney to
revert to earlier discriminatory policies against gays and lesbians.
In 1999, the Yahoo search engine had an entire current
events section devoted
to the Disney boycott Their most recent news items was dated 1997-AUG-27. When
we checked back on 2000-DEC, the section had been discontinued, presumably
because it was no longer current news. In its place were:
||A pro-boycott page listing three web sites:
||An anti-boycott page listing four web sites:
The Disney boycott appears to have be largely defunct during the year.
||2001-MAR-14: Report by Focus on the Family: Focus mentioned:|
||"...the boycott against Disney isn't on the front page of the
||Focus on the Family, the American Family Association (AFA)
and other groups continue to promote the boycott.
||Disney was criticized for being pro-choice on abortion, in favor of equal
rights for gays and lesbians, critical of religious abuses, and for
including excessive violence in their movies. [Actually, it is ABC and
Disney's subsidiary movie companies that they are criticizing.]
||Disney was criticized for allowing all groups, including gay and lesbian
associations, equal access to hold events at their theme parks. They feel
that Disney should target homosexual groups for exclusion.
||Dr. Richard Land, of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the
Southern Baptist Convention is quoted as continuing his personal boycott. He
claims that Disney stores are being closed in the southern U.S., and that
video sales and rentals are in decline.
||They offer a free information sheet "The Disney Boycott"
at 1-800-A-FAMILY. [This number can only be dialed from the U.S.]
The report did not mention any of the G-rated movies that Disney has recently
produced for children.
||2001-JUN-16: Report by the Southern Baptist Convention: The
Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission issued its
annual report. Responding to a motion made during the Baptist's annual
meeting in Orlando during 2000, they listed four "specific, measurable
expectations" that the Disney Company must meet before Southern
Baptists would consider terminating their boycott:|
||Cease promoting "Gay Days" at its theme parks. [Actually,
Disney does not promote these; they simply allow outside groups to hold
special events of all types. The SBC probably means that Disney would
have to ban sponsorship of events by gay or lesbian groups.]
||Halt the publication of pro-homosexual books. [Actually, Disney does
not publish such books. Only one independent subsidiary of Disney does.]
||Refrain from advocating the "radical homosexual agenda"
through its broadcast wings.
||Establish an advisory committee which would include Southern
Baptists and other evangelicals to provide Disney "advice and counsel."
The boycotts end:
||The American Family Association (AFA) terminated its boycott in
2005-MAY-24. AFA President Tim Wildmon said:
"We feel after nine years of boycotting Disney we have made our
point. Boycotts have always been a last resort for us at AFA, and
Disney’s attitude, arrogance and embrace of the homosexual lifestyle
gave us no choice but to advocate a boycott of the company these last
few years......I guess one could say that, as far as we’re concerned,
Disney is on probation." 13
||Focus on the Family dropped its boycott
shortly after the AFA. 14
||The "messengers" at the Southern Baptist
Convention's annual meeting voted on 2005-JUN-22 to end its boycott. 14
Alex Johnson of MSNBC commented:
"Critics said Christian groups were throwing in the towel, noting that
Disney, which had no immediate comment Wednesday (2005-JUN-22), maintained that it never
changed any of its policies or practices in response to the boycott."
Disney's "gay days" and equal family benefits for
homosexual employees continue.
A major factor in the decision to abandon the boycott may have been Disney's
decision to produce a movie based on C.S. Lewis' "The lion, the Witch and the
wardrobe" -- a story with a strong Christian theme.
The USA Weekend poll is at: http://www.usaweekend.com/respond/quickpolls/
MSNBC News report, 1997-NOV-18
Neal Horsley, "The Evidenced [sic] is in! Christian 'Resistance'
to Abomination is a abysmal failure," The Creator's Rights Party,
(The Christian Gallery website was removed by their Internet service
provider because it included the Nuremberg Files. The latter website was
found guilty of threatening abortion providers and was severely fined.)
A web site that is totally devoted to supporting Disney is: "The
Value of Families" at: http://www.valueoffamilies.com/main.htm
They were temporarily registered as the #1 religion-based site on the Internet by Web
Side Story at http://www.hitbox.com/wc/world.100.Religion.html
Dwayne Hastings, "Two-dollar bills to show homosexual support of
Disney," SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, at:
News Flash, at: http://www.valueoffamilies.com/standourground.htm
The "Stand our Ground" website is at: http://www.net1plus.com/users/notelrac/
Your Official Disney Boycott Site is at: http://www.laker.net/webpage/Boycott.htm
The CUUPS site is at: http://www.cuups.org/
"Staying with the mouse: Arab foreign ministers decide against
Disney Boycott," 1999-SEP-24, ABC Newsat: http://220.127.116.11/sections/world/DailyNews/
Stuart Shepard, "Disney boycott proceeds," at: http://www.family.org/cforum/fnif/news/A0015202.html
"Disney 'Gay Days' key to SBC boycott," 2001-JUN-16, at:
"AFA ends Disney boycott. Positive signs, 'crowded cultural
battlefield' led to decision," American Family Association, undated, at:
Alex Johnson, "Southern Baptists end 8-year Disney boycott. Company seen
as more 'family-friendly'," MSNBC, 2005-JUN-22, at:
Copyright © 1997 to 2006 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2006-JUL-29
Author: B.A. Robinson