Should Christians feel good about allowing their kids to watch Disney?

Opinion: Some Christian leaders are becoming frustrated.

General view of a farewell event at Disney World on the final night before closure due to coronavirus concerns, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., March 15, 2020 (photo credit: THRILL GEEK/VIA REUTERS)
General view of a farewell event at Disney World on the final night before closure due to coronavirus concerns, in Orlando, Florida, U.S., March 15, 2020
(photo credit: THRILL GEEK/VIA REUTERS)

In 1923, when Walt Disney first launched as a small company in Los Angeles, California, it was impossible to imagine the company would become what it's grown into today. Yet, nearly 100 years later, Disney is number seven on the Forbes list of most valuable brands. 

Because the majority of Disney's success has been from its appeal to children, most parents have always viewed Disney as wholesome entertainment for their kids. 

However, with everything surrounding the magical company today, should Christian families feel good about allowing Disney to influence their children?

For nearly two decades, there has been a growing group of Christian leaders who are becoming frustrated and vocal about the messages that Disney is sending their children and grandchildren. 

From the recurring theme that every young girl will never reach her full potential without a prince charming to creating openly gay characters in movies and television shows aimed toward children, Disney demonstrates that they are more concerned with reflecting a changing culture than Christian values and morals. 

Disney's Beauty and the Beast. (Credit: Courtesy)Disney's Beauty and the Beast. (Credit: Courtesy)

But most recently, the company’s CEO, Bob Chapek, came under fire on Christian networks for criticizing the Florida Parental Rights in Education bill signed into legislation by Gov. Ron Desantis. He even apologized to Disney employees for not taking a stand sooner, and paused all of Disney’s political giving within the state of Florida. 

Disney said that it’s “dedicated to standing up for the rights and safety of the LGBTQ+ community” and “plans on working to repeal the legislation.” 

Chapek, however, didn’t take the time to get feedback from enough Disney employees, and many of them supported the Parental Rights in Education bill.

Jack Posobiec with Human Events tweeted that he was sent “leaked screenshots from a Disney cast member showing there are Disney employees arguing their support of the bill.” 

Ray Keating is a shareholder at Disney and editor of DisneyBizJournal.com. He recently spoke out against Disney’s involvement in Florida politics, specifically their opposition to this bill.

“Here’s a suggestion for Disney CEO Bob Chapek,” Keating told Fox News Digital, “get back to business, that is, excellence in storytelling, and stop wasting shareholders’ money on political crusades that have nothing to do with Disney’s business.”

Chapek’s recent stand might have cost Disney more than a few ticket sales and upset employees and shareholders. 

On March 31, DeSantis said he was considering drafting a law that would revoke Disney’s preferred tax status in the state of Florida. 

Since 1967, Disney has held a privileged municipality on the 25,000 acres the theme park was built on. They have enjoyed “self-rule” and a preferred tax status ever since. The Florida governor said that he doesn’t consider the move “retaliatory.” Instead, DeSantis claims it would be “part of a larger issue - reducing private corporations' influence on government policy.”

There has been a lot of controversy about what exactly the new bill does. It was quickly labeled the “Don’t Say Gay” law by liberal critics throughout the United States. 

Amber Phillips with The Washington Post recently wrote an article explaining three areas the law affects. 

The area receiving the most attention is the law that “bans instruction or classroom discussion about LGBTQ issues for students between kindergarten through third grade.” Discussions concerning transgender and gay issues must be “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for older students.

The law states that education about gender and sexual orientation in the classroom shouldn’t start with students at an early age, and parents should have the final say concerning what their children are being taught and when. 

Secondly, according to Phillips, the law “empowers parents to sue the school district over teachings they don’t like.” 

Because the specific school district would be responsible for paying any lawsuits, schools might be prompted to throw out material that encourages discussions around LGBTQ issues. 

Thirdly, the law “requires schools to tell parents when their child receives mental health services.” 

Critics are pushing back that this takes away a school’s opportunity to provide a safe haven for any student who might feel uncomfortable talking with their parents about sexuality or gender orientation. 

LGBTQ advocates say the bill continues conservative efforts to label LGBTQ people as “other” or dangerous. They say that the law comes when more young Americans than ever identify as LGBTQ and conservative-led culture wars are catching fire and igniting out of control.

In the meantime, the pushback against Disney from both sides of the aisle is, as The Washington Post described it, “a stunning blow for one of Florida’s most powerful companies.”