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HEARTS of the CITY | Navigating the Real World

A rotating panel of experts from the worlds of philosophy, psychology and religion offer their perspective on the dilemmas that come with living in Southern California.

June 19, 1996|JOHN DART, Times staff writer

Today's question: Southern Baptists have called for a nationwide boycott of the Disney Co. and its parks and stores, principally because the entertainment giant extended insurance benefits to companions of gay employees and, like other amusement parks, has gay and lesbian nights at Disneyland and Disney World. Is this action wrong, misguided, morally commendable or worthy of imitation?

Scott B. Rae

Associate professor of Christian ethics, Talbot Theological Seminary, Biola University, and author of "Moral Choices, an Introduction to Ethics"

At first glance, Disney seems like an odd target for the Southern Baptists' boycott. After all, how could anyone argue with Mickey Mouse, Disney's wholesome animated films and its theme parks--the stuff of which family memories are made? But Southern Baptists are angry that Disney is talking out of both sides of its mouth, giving the public a double message about its commitment to the family. Disney has an enormous impact on kids, one that the Southern Baptists want to ensure stays as positive as possible, not undermined by gay and lesbian nights at the park, promotion of homosexuality by extending benefits to same-sex partners and the sleaze put out by its subsidiary, Miramax Productions.

R. Patricia Walsh

Professor of psychology, Loyola Marymount University

What is accomplished by sanctioning a company that for the most part promotes the family values endorsed by the Southern Baptists? It seems that Disney makes a real contribution to our culture by offering high-quality media that is an alternative to the glorification of sex and violence that permeates the majority of what children see on TV every day. Moreover, how can one fault an organization for offering medical benefits and wholesome entertainment to others? One should remember that Christ himself (through his relationships with people such as Mary Magdalene) included rather than excluded all kinds of people.

Shabbir Mansuri

Founding director, Council on Islamic Education, Fountain Valley

In Islam, homosexuality is considered sinful and immoral. The responsibility for protecting the moral fabric of American society and preserving traditional family values lies not only with faith communities but also with all sectors of society, including corporations and institutions. Disney's leadership in recent years has profited enormously at the expense of maintaining its traditional role in supporting the family structure. The boycott advocated by the Southern Baptists is an indication that Disney's corporate leaders have undermined what Disney has traditionally stood for, forcing members of various faith communities to reevaluate the company's commitment to fostering a moral society.

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