Dis­ney Among Com­pa­nies Ac­cused of Go­ing to ‘War’ on Chris­tian­ity

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL - By Adam Howard

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.”

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