Southern Baptists End Disney Boycott

Nashville, USA - Southern Baptists ended an eight-year boycott of the Walt Disney Co. for violating "moral righteousness and traditional family values" in a vote on the final day of the faith's annual convention Wednesday.

"We believe for the boycott to be effective, it had to have a beginning and an ending," said Gene Mims, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention committee that put the Disney resolution before some 12,000 members at the meeting.

SBC delegates also passed a resolution that encourages parents to investigate their children's public schools to determine whether they are too accepting of homosexuality.

The Disney resolution, passed at the SBC's 1997 convention in Dallas, called for Southern Baptists to refrain from patronizing Disney theme parks and Disney products, mainly because of the entertainment company's decision to give benefits to companions of gay employees.

"We felt like it was time to end it. We're hopeful Disney will do what the resolution calls for," Mims added.

The resolution states Disney should serve "families of America by providing only those products that affirm traditional family values."

Southern Baptists should also continue to monitor the "products and policies of the Disney Company," according to the resolution, which also urged members to "practice continued discernment regarding all entertainment products from all sources."

Officials at Burbank, Calif.-based Disney did not immediately have a comment.

"We have cost them (Disney) hundreds of millions of dollars," said Wiley Gray, an SBC member from Florida, who spoke in favor of lifting the boycott because Disney had made corporate changes, including the March announcement that longtime Disney Chief Executive Michael Eisner would leave the company in October.

A spokesman for The Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based gay rights advocacy group, said Disney continues to be one of more than 8,200 companies that offer domestic partner benefits to gay employees.

Southern Baptists also came out in support of stem cell research that did not require the destruction of human embryos or put them at risk in obtaining human stem cells.