The Southern Baptists Are Right

A year ago, the 1996 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), some 16 million members strong, voted to condemn the Walt Disney Co. for its "anti-Christian and anti-family" practices, including its "promotion of homosexuality." The Baptists further threatened a boycott of the entertainment conglomerate if it didn't change its ways.

The Mouse answered with a spit in the face. The Disney-owned production company Touchstone, along with Disney-owned ABC television, brought America the most hyped, high-profile homosexual happening in entertainment history: "Ellen." To no one's surprise, on June 18 the 1997 SBC overwhelmingly voted to undertake an all-out boycott of Disney and its subsidiaries.

Perhaps it would have been wiser strategically for the SBC to target but one arm of this $37-billion behemoth rather than take on the entire Disney machine. But the decision to boycott was the correct one.

Disney's record of anti-family insults is too long to ignore. A rundown:

"Priest". This 1995 film from Miramax, a Disney subsidiary, gave positive portrayals of two priests - both being politically correct and sexually active, one with a woman, the other with a man. Three other clerics, each faithful to the Church's teachings, were the antagonists - one a raving lunatic, the other two more concerned about their careers than their parishioners. It's hard to say whether "Priest" was more pro-gay or anti-Catholic: either way, it was utterly vile. And speaking of vile, Miramax planned to open this picture, amazingly enough, on Good Friday. When the public reacted with shock, the release date was delayed two weeks.

"The Prophecy". Later in '95, this release from Dimension Films (a division of Miramax) focused on the archangel Gabriel. But in Disney's world, this icon of the Christian faith was to be portrayed as a vicious psycho leading an army of angels angry with God for giving men souls. The evil Gabriel was thwarted by none other than Satan, who feared Gabriel would establish a second hell to compete with Satan's original version. That's right: in "The Prophecy," the hero was the devil, the villain an angel. It doesn't get any uglier than that. And in case you're wondering, production has been completed on "Prophecy 2."

On television, there was "Ellen" last year. This wasn't a storyline opposed by religious fanatics on the fringe of the political spectrum. To the contrary, a national survey showed that 63 percent of the people familiar with the program - i.e., "Ellen"'s audience - did not want a gratuitous homosexual storyline inserted. Again, Disney thumbed its nose at the public, throwing every ounce of its (formidable) public relations machine into the mix. For the moment, it worked and the ratings generated from that episode saved the failing program, though surely it ultimately signals the death sentence for that show.

Gay Days. Every June, tens of thousands of homosexuals gather at the Disney World theme park in Florida for, pardon the expression, an outing. It matters not that thousands of other visitors - families, to boot - that weekend are nauseated by the spectacle of homosexuals celebrating their decadent lifestyle at a gathering officially sanctioned by this so-called pro-family corporation.

Danzig. Last fall Disney's label Hollywood Records signed this Satanic heavy-metal act, whose video "It's Coming Down" has been banned by not only MTV but also the Playboy Channel. According to a Southern Baptist publication, the video "reportedly depicts graphic enactments of deviant sexual behavior." Group leader Glenn Danzig recently completed his first acting role, in?"Prophecy 2."

Some conservatives feel the SBC boycott is misguided. Ted Baehr of the Christian Film and Television Commission contends that it will cause Disney to write off the family audience and "drive [the company] to do more R-rated films." With the exception of its animated movies and the thus-far-unblemished Disney Channel, this corporation has slapped the American family around long enough with gratuitous attacks, and a response is called for. To suggest that antagonizing Disney would make matters worse, as Brother Ted fears, is to engage in defeatism.

The film critic Michael Medved has labeled the boycott a "profound mistake [aimed at] the wrong target, the wrong strategy at emphatically the wrong time." He fears the Disney publicity machine will portray critics as "ranting homophobes? drooling Southern preachers of hate versus Mickey Mouse." But to say this is to show a lack of courage to do that which is right, a most un-Medved trait.

I vote two thumbs up for the SBC's courage, wondering yet again: Where is the Catholic Church? Where is the Christian Coalition?