As soon as the news broke last week that Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast movie would feature an “exclusively gay moment,” Franklin Graham called for a boycott of Disney in a Facebook post that has since been shared almost 100,000 times.
The next day, a drive-in theater in Alabama announced that it would not show the movie, while, even before Franklin Graham’s comment was posted, the conservative group One Million Moms called for a Disney boycott, with a clear warning: “Alerting all parents! In a first for the Disney Channel, a Disney XD show subtly displayed several gay kisses in an episode that aired a couple of days ago.”
Over at LifeSiteNews, a petition to boycott Disney has already amassed over 100,000 signatures in just five days, carrying this headline: “SIGN THE BOYCOTT: Tell Disney ‘NO’ to LGBT agenda in Beauty and the Beast – #BoycottDisney.”
Should we applaud Graham and the movie theater and One Million Moms and LifeSiteNews? More specifically, should we join the boycott?
Writing an opinion piece for USA Today, Jonathan Merritt, known as a more moderate conservative (and himself admittedly same-sex attracted), addressed what he described as the “flaming hypocrisy” in evangelical calls for a Disney boycott, also arguing that, “Avoiding the subject of homosexuality will not prepare kids for the real world.”
He wrote: “Conservative Christian outrage over any positive portrayals of LGBT people in film and television is a tale as old as time, but this effort seems particularly misguided. It risks making Christians look like antiquated bigots, and it reeks of moral hypocrisy. And worse, it diverts energy from a more worthwhile effort: teaching Christian children to co-exist in a pluralistic society.”
John Pavlovitz, a left-leaning pastor who often confronts the “white evangelical church,” rebuked the boycotters in very harsh terms, speaking of “the naked hypocrisy of a Christian Disney boycott.”
In his words, “Conservative Christians have crawled out of the church pew woodwork to rend their garments and beat their breasts, at word that Disney’s live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast will feature an openly gay character.”
He speaks of us as “opportunistic, self-righteous Bible-thumpers” who are guilty of “unprovoked jerkery,” stating that this “is what we now expect from the American Religious Right, who have long since jettisoned the loving, compassionate, redemptive justice work of a poor-loving Jesus—and gone all in with the glossy, homophobic pulpit bullies who arouse their passions.”