Disney Among Companies Accused of Going to ‘War’ on Christianity
In the wake of their successful lobbying effort to defeat a controversial religious freedom bill in Georgia, Disney and several other like-minded companies are getting called out by a conservative organization called Texas Values for allegedly going to “war” on Christianity.
When Georgia's legislature passed the Free Exercise Protection Act (H.B. 757), legislation that would have allowed local businesses to refuse to provide services to people whose lifestyles offended their religious sensibilities, an overwhelming number of voices from the world of business and entertainment converged to pressure Republican Gov. Nathan Deal to veto the bill, which he eventually did.
“It's striking that the day after Easter, churches in Georgia are told their freedoms are not that important to protect. It's clear that corporate giants like Apple, Disney, NCAA, Intel have finally come out of the closet and declared public war on the religious freedom of clergy and religious schools, as was the protection in Georgia's very modest HB 757 that they worked to bring down,” wrote Texas Values president Jonathan Saenz this week.
He added later: “Will Disney now ban you from wearing a cross outside your shirt at their parks? Will a Catholic priest be forced to remove his white collar when he takes a picture with Mickey Mouse? This is how extreme the attacks now are on religious freedom, it's a zero tolerance policy for religious freedom.”
“It's just misleading for any organization to suggest HB 757, in its final form, had any purpose other than to advance discrimination against LGBT people. Religious freedom is protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and no one is trying to change that,” Dan Rafter, a spokesman for the gay rights organization Freedom For All Americans, told MSNBC.
Disney's role in the effort was particularly significant, since many of the Marvel superhero films they produce are shot within Georgia's borders and the company itself has a reputation of promoting traditional, and some would argue, conservative values in much of their creative output.
The company's late founder Walt Disney has become infamous for his far right, even reactionary politics (and rumors of anti-Semitic and racist proclivities). The cultural insensitivity of earlier Disney films (which included homophobic portrayals of cartoon characters) is well documented. And yet the company has come a long way in recent decades, as evidenced by their vocal role in opposing anti-gay legislation.
“Disney is one of the hundreds of companies that recognized HB 757 would hurt LGBT Georgians and many others. Religious freedom is just as protected under the law today as it was yesterday, last month and last year. It's not under attack,” said Rafter. “What HB 757 would have done, however, is expose the hundreds of thousands of LGBT Georgians — who already lack any statewide nondiscrimination protections — to even more harm.”