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Disney World Ends Weekly Church Services

January 04, 2003|From Times Wire Reports

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Walt Disney World is scaling back its Roman Catholic and Protestant services.

After Christmas Day worship this year, the theme park said it will no longer hold weekly services, although Christmas and Easter worship will continue.

Two Catholic Masses and one nondenominational Protestant service had been held at the resort each Sunday since 1975. No religious services are conducted at Disneyland in Anaheim or on Disney's two cruise ships.

Disney officials said space problems were partly to blame for the change. But the resort's executives also said it no longer seemed fair to hold services for only two faiths when religious diversity in America is increasing.

Houses of worship surrounding the resort can meet visitors' religious needs, a Disney spokeswoman said.

The Rev. Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, which has criticized Disney in the past, said the decision reflected "a lack of comprehension of how the real country lives and what's important to them."

"This is just one further step away from what once was a core constituency of religiously motivated family values clientele," Land said.

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