June 22, 1997 in Nation/World

Baptist Ministers Differ Over Disney Some Plan To Use Sermons Today To Support Boycott Of Company

Associated Press

Southern Baptist ministers headed to the nation’s pulpits with a mission on Sunday, the first Sabbath since leaders of the 15-million-member church urged the faithful to boycott Disney.

Some planned to promote the boycott called for last week at a national church convention because Disney provides health benefits to partners of homosexual employees.

Others lacking the same conviction planned to ignore the boycott in sermons, while some ministers remained unsure what to do.

“I’ve got folks at my church that work for Disney stores here in the mall. That’s going to pose a difficult problem,” said the Rev. Ray Ivey of the Cherokee Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

He didn’t plan to address the boycott immediately, but might later.

The Southern Baptist Convention voted Wednesday to boycott Disney and all of its subsidiaries, including movies, theme parks and TV outlets - the Disney Channel, ESPN, A&E; and Lifetime on cable and the ABC network, which aired the sitcom “Ellen” in which Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian earlier this year.

Among the group’s other objections: “Gay Days” at Disney theme parks, and its subsidiary movie studios putting out films with violence and sex, such as “Pulp Fiction.”

The leader of the First Baptist Church in the late Walt Disney’s hometown of Marceline, Mo., endorsed the boycott wholeheartedly.

“I support the boycott, not out of hate, but out of a sense of right and wrong,” the Rev. Delmar McCollum said.

The Rev. Mack Thompson, pastor of the Ridge Road Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C., says he won’t mention the boycott.

“There are certainly some moral issues that need to be addressed, but I don’t think this is the way to do it,” he said. “It sends a bad message to a company that has done a lot of good things for families.”

xxxx 29% BACK BOYCOTT A Newsweek poll for its June 30 issue found that 28 percent of those surveyed agree that Disney has moved too far away from wholesome family entertainment. Twenty-nine percent of 753 adults questioned by telephone said they’d support a Disney boycott. Forty percent said the “Ellen” coming-out episode was a bad thing since it seemed to promote gay lifestyles, while almost as many - 35 percent - said it was good because it promoted a positive image for homosexuals. And almost two-thirds said the presence of homosexual couples at the theme parks doesn’t reduce the enjoyment of families and other park visitors. The poll’s margin of error was 4 percentage points.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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