I try to stay out of the political/cultural battles but I’d like to chime in on this one.
Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” opened at movie theaters on March 16th and immediately created a lot of controversy because the movie featured the first gay character in one of the company’s feature films. When I heard the news I just shook my head with sadness. Today’s young children are being inundated with situations and behaviors that I didn’t hear about until I was in my teens back in the 70s. Some evangelical leaders, most notably Franklin Graham, called for a boycott of the film because of the gay character.
In the article below, openly-gay writer and pundit, Jonathan Merritt, accuses evangelicals of being raging hypocrites. He states that many of them will boycott the Disney movie but noted that in last November’s presidential election, 81% of white evangelicals voted for a “thrice-married serial liar (Donald Trump) who has bragged about bedding married women and has admitted to grabbing women’s genitals without permission.” He suggests that rather than boycotting the film and other such endeavors, Christian parents should focus on teaching their children to “understand and coexist alongside people who might not share their beliefs and practices.”
My wife and I were members of a fundamentalist church back in the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic was breaking news and the pastor attacked homosexuality from the pulpit frequently and with ferocity. That was at the peak of the Jerry Falwell/Moral Majority-led culture war battles. How successful were Falwell and his supporters? As we now know, American society has become increasingly secularized since then. Professing evangelical Christians make up maybe only 15-20% of the population and that number dips far lower up here in the Northeast (5% here in Rochester, NY).
Are Christians hypocrites for supporting Trump and boycotting Disney as Merritt claims? I could understand why it might appear that way. But evangelicals could justify their support for Trump by claiming he was the better of two very poor candidates and that his public platform was much more in-line with their values than Hillary’s. Also, it’s somewhat an apples to oranges comparison. Christian parents aren’t bringing their young children to theaters to see movies about Trump’s adulterous affairs but they are concerned that sinful “lifestyles” are being presented to their children from an increasing number of sources as legitimate alternatives to the traditional family.
The widely-accepted myth of America as a “Christian nation,” as if it was in a special covenant relationship with God like ancient Israel, was without any foundation. Nations can’t become Christian, only individuals can. We still see the remnants of the mingling of religion with national patriotism but only a small minority of Americans believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 2017. At this point there’s no pretending that American society is anything other than largely secular and even anti-Christian. Given the current realities, I’m convinced Christians in America should focus on spreading the Gospel in this country rather than trying to defend a former political/cultural status quo that was never really what it was trumped up to be anyway.
Flaming hypocrisy in evangelical Disney boycott