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State's Southern Baptists to Urge Boycott of Disney

November 15, 1996

California's Southern Baptists will urge their 430,000 members to boycott Walt Disney Co. products, alleging the company has turned its back on family values.

About 800 delegates of the denomination's 56th annual state convention met Wednesday in Pasadena and passed a resolution asking members to shun Disney theme parks, movies and merchandise to protest Disney's adult-themed entertainment and gay-friendly employment policies.

The Rev. Wiley Drake, pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, was the architect of the resolution. Drake sponsored a similar measure that was approved at the Southern Baptist's national convention in June. The Southern Baptists boast 16 million members nationwide.

"We would like to see Disney come back to the old Disney that we know," Drake said. "This vote just brings awareness to California Baptists and other people."

The vote marks the latest censure of Disney by Christian conservatives, who have lambasted the company for extending health benefits to same-sex partners of gay employees and distributing controversial films such as "Priest," which chronicles the struggles of a gay cleric.

In addition to the Southern Baptists, the 2.5-million-member Assemblies of God and the American Family Assn., a Christian lobbying group, have launched boycotts of the entertainment giant this year.

Disney officials could not be reached for comment.

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