The Happiest Place on Earth is in pretty sad shape.
A lot of folks, particularly some of the major shareholders and former diehard fans, are well aware of the predicament that The Walt Disney Company currently finds itself in.
Not too long ago Disney pulled CEO Bob Chapek out of his post and brought back the company’s former CEO, Bob Iger.
Iger now finds himself facing an extremely tough task – how to stop the deconstruction of the Disney brand before its too late, and how to then lift the company back up out of the rubble.
Signs of Disney’s decline recently became manifest by the Axios Harris Poll and the 2022 Corporate Reputation Rankings.
Disney’s score on the poll was 73.4, which resulted in the company’s ranking being 65th on the list. The entertainment giant had fallen 28 places since the previous year, experiencing its worst results in the history of the Harris Poll.
The Trafalgar Group conducted its own poll in Spring 2022, which showed that 68% of Americans consider themselves less likely to do business with Disney, due to the company’s activism.
A recent incident illustrates exactly why Iger needs to act swiftly. WDW Pro, a Twitter account that specializes in all things Disney, reported that the company has engaged in something that Christians of all persuasions consider an abomination, blasphemy.
The Epcot Candlelight Processional has been a tradition at Florida’s Epcot Center for the past 64 years. The event takes place at Christmas time and is part of a larger devotional service in which narrators provide inspirational messages that contain heartfelt Christian content.
In the most recent candlelight processional, the Christian content of the messaging was somehow modified. It turns out that within the content of the revised messaging, the actual divinity of Jesus Christ was denied, not once, but five times.
Simu Liu was one of the event’s theatrical readers. The actor performed a passage that actually denied a central tenet of Christianity.
“For all the miracles of Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace himself was simply a man, a human being, and he walked through this world in the most human way possible with love…,” Liu said.
Being labeled in the scripted words as “simply a man,” Jesus Christ, who is recognized by hundreds of millions of Christians around the globe as Lord and Savior, was stripped of His divine nature.
Across all of history there have been those who have attempted to rewrite Christian dogma.
But did Disney have to get into the heretical act?
Many may not have heard, but Disney was founded by a deeply committed Christian, Mr. Walt Disney himself. Early Disney entertainment fare was filled with Christian values, imagery, symbolism and storylines.
Here are but a few examples:
Several Christian leaders offered prayers during the opening ceremonies of the original Anaheim, California theme park. The finale of the “Fantasia” film includes the hymn “Ave Maria,” music that was created to honor the Virgin Mary. And even the character of Snow White takes time out to talk to the Ultimate Maker of her universe.
During the 1940s, Walt proved himself to be an ardent anti-Communist. He founded the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group that once stated, “We find ourselves in sharp revolt against a rising tide of Communism, Fascism and kindred beliefs, that seek by subversive means to undermine and change this way of life.”
In an article penned in 1949, Walt revealed how his religious faith had guided him in life.
“I was grounded in old-fashioned religious observance,” he shared. “My people were zealous members of the Congregational Church in our home town, Marceline, Missouri. My father, Elias Disney, who was a contractor, built our local church and was a deacon of the congregation. I was baptized there and attended Sunday School regularly.”
Walt was vigilant in making sure that the company he founded did not stray from the principles of his faith.
“I have watched constantly that in my work the highest moral and spiritual standards are upheld, whether my productions deal with fable or with stories of living action,” his article read.
The Candlelight Processional incident compelled Dr. Gregory Seltz, Executive Director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, to call upon parents to seriously distance themselves from Disney.
“Any Christian parent who allows the glitter and glitz of Disney movies and Disneyland theme parks to take hold of our children’s imagination now delivers one’s children into the hands of people who actively seek to steal our children’s childhoods, and now, even their faith,” Dr. Seltz declared.
He concluded with the following unambiguous message for parents:
“This is about the hearts and minds of our children, not just a ride on Space Mountain. Parents of all faiths need to find other avenues for entertainment rather than anything Disney.”
Other boycotts of Disney are ongoing, including the one from One Million Moms, an arm of the American Family Association.
Iger led The Walt Disney Company for 15 years. It is time for him to do what Chapek failed to do.
He has to dissociate the Magic Kingdom from woke Hollywood. He has to stand up to anyone within or without the company who seeks to undermine Walt’s legacy. And he has to rebuild the public trust in the once-beloved Disney brand.