Local Southern Baptists To Vote On Disney Boycott Churches Slow To Embrace National Protest Against ‘Gay-Friendly’ Policies

FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 1997

FOR THE RECORD: 6-21-97 Affiliation wrong: The Rev. M.R. Kidwell is pastor of Dishman Baptist Church. His church affiliation was reported incorrectly Thursday in a story about the Southern Baptist boycott of Disney.

Some of Eastern Washington and North Idaho’s 39 Southern Baptist churches may vote during the next few days on whether to embrace their national organization’s boycott of the Walt Disney Co. because of its “gay-friendly” policies.

But yea or nay, the boycott is unlikely to carry much weight among the region’s 5,600 Baptists, according to a local church official.

“For most members of my church, this is kind of a far-removed thing,” said the Rev. M.R. Kidwell, pastor of Pines Baptist Church and moderator of the Inland Empire Baptist Association. “It’s a bigger issue to the media and outsiders than it is to local churches.”

Attitudes differ greatly among America’s 15 million Southern Baptists, he said.

“A lot of political stuff happens down South,” Kidwell said Thursday. “But we’re not like churches down there.”

While Kidwell finds Disney policies such as allowing “Gay Days” at its amusement parks morally offensive, “I’m here to deal one-on-one with people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not here to play politics.”

He may have little choice. Diane Hein, secretary of the Inland Empire Baptist Association, spoke with four local church secretaries Thursday, and all reported receiving phone calls “from people expressing extreme displeasure with Southern Baptists.”

The calls were in response to Wednesday’s vote by delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Dallas. The 12,000 delegates overwhelmingly approved a non-binding resolution urging 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” amusement parks; Disney-produced films; ABC, ESPN and A&E; television; the Anaheim Angels baseball team and more.

“This is not an attempt to bring The Disney Company down,” the resolution continued, “but to bring Southern Baptists up to the moral standards of God.”

For many Disney critics, the final straw came earlier this year when actress Ellen DeGeneres and the character she plays on ABC’s sitcom “Ellen” announced they were lesbians.

Disney officials have had little to say publicly about the boycott.

On Thursday, an employee at The Disney Store in Spokane’s NorthTown mall also declined to comment about the boycott, other than to say that business was “normal.”

For his part, Kidwell says he’ll probably take his children to Six Flags amusement park rather than to Disneyland. But he doesn’t plan to cancel his ESPN cable service or tune out KXLY-TV, ABC’s local affiliate.

“The best thing about this boycott,” he said, “is that it may draw attention to the fact that Disney Corporation is not just Mickey Mouse - it’s very rich, powerful people who produce a lot of wholesome, family things, but who also promote a homosexual agenda.”

, DataTimes MEMO: Cut in Spokane Edition

Cut in Spokane Edition


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