The Walt Disney Company’s “gospel” of morality without explicit mention of God is “a Southern Baptist’s nightmare,” says an author who studied 31 of the company’s animated films for values and ethics.
Walt Disney grew up in a fundamentalist home and never set foot in church as an adult, Mark Pinsky, author of The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust, said in an interview with USA Today. The Disney founder never wanted belief to be a barrier to any viewer or visitor to his theme parks, and his successors today continue the philosophy.
Pinsky labels the Disney credo “secular ‘toonism,” a play on the term “secular humanism.”
Humanism once was not the red-flag word that it has become for many, Pinsky said. Mainline Protestants believed Christians could model their faith without talking about, an idea that is foreign and infuriating to many conservative evangelicals.
“Disney’s credo is a Southern Baptist’s nightmare, because it presents other systems of belief as equally valid and equally worthy of respect,” said Pinsky, who covered Disney’s clash with the Southern Baptist Convention boycott as a religion reporter for the Orlando Sentinel.
While the Disney Company’s decision to offer domestic partner benefits to gay employees and to add Gay Days to its special-events calendar were what sparked the boycott of Disney parks and products, Pinsky said religious conservatives were already uncomfortable with undertones of animism in “Pocahontas” and “The Lion King’s” “karma on the savanna.”
“The Baptists’ real argument is with American society and syncretism—the blind blending of convenient beliefs,” Pinsky said.
The book is Pinsky’s second on religion in popular culture. His The Gospel According to the Simpsons explored spirituality in the animated show that Pinsky argues is one of the most religious programs on television.
Read our review of The Gospel According to Disney.