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Brian Bennett

The Boycott and the Bible

Why in the World is This Page Here?

Several people have questioned me (most of them via email) about the boycott that has been called against the Walt Disney Company. Clearly, as both a Christian (and a Baptist at that!) and a Disney Fan there is potential for some inner conflict for me. The following information is not here to irritate anyone that disagrees with me...rather, it's simply a documentation of my opinion.

Let me offer a very specific caveat here: If you wholeheartedly believe that Disney maintains the same high values and standards that the company did twenty or thirty years ago, we have to agree to disagree. I feel very strongly that The Disney Company is no longer the stalwart defender of family values and good clean fun that it once was...

Having said that, the question that remained for me is what -- if anything -- I should do about that change in Disney's behavior...The rest of this portion of the web site is intended for people that believe as I do:

  1. That Jesus Christ is the Son of God
  2. That Jesus died, was buried, and rose again to pay the penalty for sin for anyone that believes on Him
  3. That the Bible is God's Holy Word and is Infallible.

I'm not trying to pick a fight with anyone. If you don't agree with me, that's ok. I only provide this information to answer the questions of those folks that have asked...

The Boycotts

The Southern Baptist and Assemblies of God boycotts of the Walt Disney Company are based on a perceived shift of the company from mainstream family values toward liberal, immoral values.

According to the Associated Press report on the Southern Baptist boycott, delegates to the 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans voted on a "provisional boycott" of the Walt Disney Company because the company, once strong on family values is now perceived to be promoting homosexuality. The delegates objected to Disney's policy of allowing for the celebration of gay/lesbian themes in their parks and the provision of employee benefits to same-gender couples. They also objected to a series of morally objectionable movie productions by Miramax Corporation, a Disney subsidiary, including the gay-themed "Priest" and "The Crying Game" and others such as "Kids", "Like Water for Chocolate", and "Piano." The boycott is to include Disney's theme parks, movie productions, and toys. Also according to the Associated Press report, a Disney spokesman objected, "We question any group that demands that we deprive people of health benefits and we know of no tourist destination in the world that denies admission to people as the Baptists are insisting we do."

The Biblical Argument for Participating in such a Boycott

The best argument in favor of participating in such a boycott would be the concept of "separation." Separation is the idea that believers in Jesus Christ should avoid any activity that God would not approve of. A clear-cut example (that I don't think anyone would argue with) is that Christians should certainly not go into a strip club. Clearly such establishments have an atmosphere that would cause most people to sin.

To apply that extreme example to the Disney Company, if a Christian believes that visiting a Disney theme park might cause him to sin, he should not go. Likewise, if a certain Disney movie contains content that can cause the Christian to sin, he should not watch. The following Bible passages (with accompanying comments) clarify this issue for a Christian:

I Jn 2:15-16

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

As a believer, we shouldn't LOVE the world or else God's love for us is in jeopardy. Note that the word love changes in verse 15....from: agapao- used of persons: to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love agape- brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.

Ps 1:1-6

1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

The "man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly" is blessed because he avoids the penalty of sin. Heartache...disease...God's punishment...

3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

"Like a tree planted by the rivers of water" means to be consistent, strong, able to stand up under bear fruit...

4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The ungodly are unlike the person that seeks after God...

Gen 13:8-9

8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

The application here is that Abraham and Lot separated to eliminate strife (arguments between the herdsmen of each family).

Deut 2:4-6

4 And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: 5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession. 6 Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink.

Israel and Easu remained separated, even though they were co-located. They interacted, but didn't form strong bonds or ties.

2 Cor 6:14-18

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

"Unequally yoked" means to be tied together in common effort. How should this principle be applied, though? Does it mean that believers shouldn't even have secular jobs? No, the common effort is in spiritual things. The physical is different since we do, of course, all live on earth.

Eph 5:1-17

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Individual believers, and the church as a body, must avoid sin and keep it out of the fellowship.

The Biblical Argument against Participating in a Boycott

On the other hand, if separation is not an issue (i.e. visiting the Disney park does not, in itself, cause or tempt the Christian to sin) then the issue of the boycott becomes more complicated. Christians are never told to do anything to change the behavior of any non-Christian. Christians are to tell others about Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection, but Christians are not commanded to attempt to change a non-Christian's behavior -- that's a job for the Holy Spirit.

In the following verses, as He prayed in the garden just prior to His arrest by the Roman soldiers, Jesus defined the role of the Christian in the world...

John 17:14-17

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Jesus prayed that God not remove believers (the "them" in the verses above) from the world, but that He would protect them from evil. Furthermore, Jesus points out that the citizenship of the Christian is not in the world.

Later that night, as He was questioned by the Roman Governor, Pilate, the following conversation took place:

John 18:35-36

35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

The Lord's answer to Pilate was that His servants weren't on earth to fight. The Christian's role is clearly defined...

Matt 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

The known responsibilities of the Christian are: Go, Teach, Baptize...then to Teach the Observance of the Lord's commands.

Matt 5:13-16

13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Salt is a preservative, a flavor enhancer, and causes thirst. Candles provide needed light in darkness. Therefore, Christians are to preserve, enhance, and provide light so "that they may see your good works". Christians are to be an example of good behavior.

John 16:8-11

8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

It's up to God (the Holy Spirit) to convict and punish the sinner. It's not the job of the Christian to convince unbelievers to not sin. In fact, in Paul's letter to the Corinthians the role of the Christian is to reconcile...not cause conflict:

2 Cor 5:17-21

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Reconciliation with God comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us. The "ministry of reconciliation" is the task that Christian's have of leading others to that same faith by example and witness.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

The ambassadorial role requires that the Christian not offend, that he correctly represent our Lord, and that he clearly make the Lord's wishes known to those people he is sharing Christ with. So what are the Lord's wishes for all people? Salvation from sin!

2 Pet 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

The Christian is commanded to not raise controversial issues. Paul made that clear when he wrote about eating food that had been sacrificed to idols (this was a common source of meat in many of the Roman cities of the day):

1 Cor 10:27-33

27 If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. 28 But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: 29 Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?

The food offered to the idols wasn't bad in itself. It wasn't wrong to acquire the offered food. It is never commanded to avoid people that sell the offered the food...

30 For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? 31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: 33 Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Avoiding offence is a key...

The following passage, though, is for me the single strongest argument against the boycott issue:

1 Cor 5:9-13

9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

In verse 8, Paul points out that he had earlier said not to spend time with fornicators (or sinners of any stripe, really). He backtracks, though, and points out that he was not referring to non-Christians, but to people that claimed to be Christian, but acted the way they did before. The point is to avoid the hypocrite, not to limit contact with people that don't believe the same way about Jesus Christ.

12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

Christians are to judge those that are in the church. Isn't it ironic that Christians usually do exactly the opposite? We tend to ignore sin within our own ranks and vilify sin outside our fellowship.

13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

God will judge the unsaved. We are not to do so. Some other passages that bear on this subject are:

Col 4:5

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

Matt 10:16

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Rom 12:17-18

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

1 Tim 3:7

7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Phil 2:14-16

14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

2 Cor 6:3

3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:

My Personal Conclusion

I understand the frustration that some people feel about Disney's change in standards over the years. Gone are the days when a mother could allow her child to watch a Disney movie with complete assurance that the content would be completely wholesome. I totally agree with the thought that any content produced by the Walt Disney Company, whether it be film, text, or theme park attraction must be evaluated by the parent with that family's own standards in mind. If a parent deems Disney content to be contrary to their own beliefs, of course they should avoid it.

On the other hand, I do not see any support in Scripture for a boycott of any company with the intent of convincing that company to change it's corporate behavior. Avoid the behavior personally, if separation is warranted, but to stir up controversy by publicly demanding that a company operate according to your own standards is not right.

I hope that the standards that the Walt Disney Company maintains in the future does not cause me to have to avoid it's films, books, or parks. For me, personally, that would be tragic. However, it would be a personal decision that me and my wife would make if necessary...not a formal boycott called by leaders of a church organization.

Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planner

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Brian's Archive - Contents

A Little More Disney Information:

Reviews of Other Disney-Related Stuff books and CDs!

A Brief History of the Disney Parks just an overview, but worth reading!

A Tribute to Walter Elias Disney the text of Eric Severeid's eulogy of Mr. Disney, December 15, 1966

The Boycott and the Bible the reasons behind the anti-Disney boycott(s), and my own Bible research on what I should do about it

Plush Revenge - A Shopping Story about how I bought over $353.00 worth of Disney stuff for $18.56.

About the WebMaster:

Brian and His Family some background on my own family

Michael's Story a bit more information on how we adopted our littlest boy

Growing Families International a great organization for parents

Christian Family Services a link to my favorite adoption agency

Email Brian if for some odd reason you want to contact me...

Las Vegas, September 2002 Trip Report a report on a personal trip that didn't include a visit to any Disney places whatsoever!


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