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Religious Conservatives Intensify Disney Boycott

July 02, 1996|MARLA DICKERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Religious conservatives are turning up the heat on Walt Disney Co. following last month's vote by the Southern Baptist Convention to boycott the entertainment giant over its gay-friendly employment policies and adult-themed films.

The American Family Assn., a Christian organization that has battled the entertainment industry for years over sex and violence in programming, is throwing its formidable public relations machinery behind the Disney boycott, according to the association's founder, the Rev. Donald Wildmon.

"Disney has always presented itself as a family-oriented company," said Wildmon, a Mississippi Methodist minister who led several high-profile boycotts against corporations that distribute pornography or advertise on racy television programs. "But much of what they are doing is destructive to the family. They are hypocrites."

The association this week will begin distributing boycott information to more than 28,000 Southern Baptist congregations, including sample boycott postcards addressed to Disney Chairman Michael Eisner.

Wildmon said the group has printed 500,000 postcards, which churches can purchase for a nominal fee, and he projects the group eventually will distribute as many as 2 million copies.

The packets also will contain "pass-along" information sheets detailing Disney's forays into adult-oriented films, such as "Priest" and "Pulp Fiction," and examples of what the association views as the company's "homosexual agenda," such as Disney's decision last year to extend health benefits to partners of gay employees.

The association also is distributing to about 1,100 Christian radio stations recorded public service announcements that urge listeners to refrain from purchasing Disney products until the company halts its "anti-family" activity.

One spot declares: "We must show Disney that families are tired of a place where molesters and lesbians are hired to make films and movies that say it's OK to go against morals and grow up gay."

Critics contend that Wildmon is so shrill and that the association has launched so many boycotts that the public has stopped listening.

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