The Southern Baptist Convention declared victory in its eight-year battle over family values with The Disney Co. Wednesday morning, but moments later an SBC agency head implied Southern Baptists were losing the war against the homosexual-rights movement sweeping through the corporate world.
In 1997 the SBC passed a resolution urging Southern Baptists to “refrain from patronizing” Disney for “promoting immoral ideologies,” including homosexuality. A new resolution now says the boycott “communicated effectively our displeasure” and declares “a conclusion” to the effort.
“For a boycott to be effective, it must be specifically targeted and of limited duration,” the resolution says.
It still urges Disney to provide only products that affirm traditional values, pledges to continue to monitor the company and encourages Southern Baptists to “practice continued discernment” regarding entertainment products.
One of the grievances that led to the Disney boycott was a company policy offering the same health insurance coverage available to employees’ spouses to workers with same-sex partners.
During the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary report immediately following the Resolutions Committee, a messenger questioned why the seminary in Louisville, Ky., recently turned over its campus maintenance to a company with similar policies.
Don Andrews of Haven Baptist Church in Kansas City, Kan., said he was concerned about the seminary signing a maintenance contract with Sodexho, Inc., a company with pro-homosexual policies including partner benefits and celebration of Gay Pride Month on the corporate calendar.
Seminary President Albert Mohler said the seminary had little choice.
“I’ll tell you up front this corporation, like many others, has some policies” with which Southern Baptists disagree, he said.
“We’re all doing businesses with companies that have policies with which we disagree,” Mohler said, from hotels, to accountants, lawyers and insurance companies.
Messengers to the June 21-22 convention in Nashville, Tenn., rejected an amendment to the Disney resolution offered by Wiley Drake, a supporter of the original boycott, threatening to institute another boycott if warranted.
“This boycott has been very effective,” said Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Fla., which is located four miles from Disneyland, but Disney needs to know “that we’re not turning away from this.”
Messenger William Dodson, who Tuesday night unsuccessfully nominated Drake as the convention’s second vice president, rose to speak against him on ending the boycott of Disney.
“The Resolutions Committee would have us think the boycott is only effective if it is of limited duration,” he said. “I’ve been boycotting booze, tobacco, strip clubs, dirty movies and gambling for nearly 80 years. It’s been pretty effective. I’ve never tasted beer or whiskey.”
Dodson said the convention was right to boycott Disney in 1997 for allowing “gay days” at theme parks and company policies recognizing same-sex partnerships. “This old warrior isn’t ready to stop fighting the battle just yet,” he said.
Drake said he is not ready to quit either, “But it is time for us to say as Southern Baptists what we did was a boycott and it worked.”
“We have cost them hundreds of millions of dollars,” Drake said. “Michael Eisner himself said that blankety-blank Wiley Drake cost me 10 million off my bonus this year.”
“They have made some changes,” he said of the entertainment giant. “I guarantee if anything happens between this year and next year you’ll hear Wiley Drake pitching a fit about Disneyland next year.”
Mohler said despite contracting with Sodexho, the seminary remains committed to “upholding the highest standards of biblical accountability.” He said the firm has agreed that workers on the seminary campus will uphold moral standards and that the seminary retains the right to publicly criticize the corporation.
“The reality is if there were a corporation that had different policies that could give us these services, we would work with them,” he said.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.