A Reprieve for Good Works
BY: Kevin Eckstrom
(RNS)--Key leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention are calling for a one-day lifting of the denomination-wide boycott on the Walt Disney company so Southern Baptists can watch ABC's "The Miracle Maker" on Easter Sunday.
In 1997, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling on Southern Baptists to boycott Disney and its subsidiaries -- including ABC -- for what it saw as Disney's openness to homosexuality. ABC is airing "The Miracle Maker," an animated special on the life of Jesus, at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday. Denomination leaders say the movie is a positive depiction of the life of Jesus and an useful evangelistic tool.
The Rev. Jim Henry, a former president of the SBC and pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., said "The Miracle Maker" could "impact millions of people, especially children. The opportunity that we have to encourage the Christian community and others to view this accurate biblical explanation of who Jesus is could be unprecedented. Proclaiming the Good News is what we, as followers of Jesus, are all about, and this movie makes that proclamation so clear."
Henry was joined by the Rev. Jess Moody, a former SBC pastor in Los Angeles, in his support for the ABC movie. It would be "a disastrous mistake for the Christian community to ban ABC's story of Christ," Moody said. "We should be grateful to ABC for having the courage and integrity to run a film aimed at children that clearly presents Jesus as the savior of the world."
"The Miracle Maker" tells the biblical story of the life of Jesus, including his many miracles and claims to divinity. In a scene depicting his crucifixion, a Roman guard says, "Surely this was the son of God," a direct reference to scriptural accounts of the events. The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination with 15.7 million members, launched the Disney boycott because of concerns that Disney was promoting the gay "lifestyle" with Gay Days at its theme parks and by featuring Ellen DeGeneres, an outspoken lesbian, in one of its shows.
The SBC also voiced concern about one of Disney's subsidiaries, Miramax, and the films it produced. The boycott was later joined by Focus on the Family and the Assemblies of God. The Rev. Richard Land, president of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said lifting the boycott for one day would not dilute the message Southern Baptists are trying to send. "It has always been my contention and my understanding ... that this boycott means you don't take money out of your pocket and put it in Disney's coffers to help subsidize that which ridicules and attacks our biblical beliefs and convictions.
"Thus, the boycott never meant not watching ABC Television, although I have not found much, other than sporting events, worth viewing on that particular network in recent years," said Land.