The Rev. Franklin Graham weighed in on the continuing controversy between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), accusing LGBTQ activists of “using corporations to force their agenda on the public.”
The evangelist also charged Disney with going “too far” amid the cultural debate surrounding its content and the company’s staunch opposition to Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Act (H.B. 1557).
Graham praised DeSantis for pushing back against purported indoctrination in public school classrooms and lamented Disney’s current culture.
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“LGBTQ activists are using corporations to force their agenda on the public, and companies may want to take another look at what they are allowing to happen,” Graham wrote Saturday on Facebook. “Disney has gone too far.”
He continued, “The people of Florida have revolted, and it’s going to cost Disney big time.”
Graham then said the most recent development in the Disney-DeSantis debacle — the revocation by Florida lawmakers of Disney’s special tax status — is the result of Disney’s decision to come out “against the parents of Florida.”
As Faithwire previously reported, DeSantis signed legislation Friday ending The Walt Disney Company’s control of The Reedy Creek Improvement District, a private government once controlled by the entertainment giant.
Under the agreement, which took effect in 1967, Disney provided its own zoning, fire protection, infrastructure, and utilities. Decades ago, initial Disney plans — which reportedly relied on this governance agreement — called for a futuristic city that never took form.
As for Graham’s critiques, they didn’t end there. The evangelist said the events happening at Disney constitute a “moral failure,” and invoked the vision of company founder Walt Disney to make his case.
“Walt Disney had a vision for wholesome family entertainment,” wrote Graham. “He was committed to the family. The morals of the corporate leadership of Disney today are in the gutter, and they want to redefine family counter to God’s original design and flaunt sin.”
The evangelist showered praise upon DeSantis for taking a “bold stand” and said America needs more leaders like him.
“God bless him and the Florida legislature,” Graham said.
Faithwire has covered the Disney-DeSantis dispute in recent weeks, with the Reedy Creek news standing as the most significant development to unfold of late.
In March, the war heightened after DeSantis signed the Parental Rights in Education bill into law. Critics have vociferously dubbed the measure the “Don’t Say Gay bill,” despite the word “gay” being absent from the text.
The law, which bars educators from teaching about gender identity and sexual orientation from pre-K through third grade, takes effect July 1.
Disney at first remained quiet on the bill, with CEO Bob Chapek taking heat for refusing to repudiate it after saying such actions from corporations are generally “counterproductive.” As a result of intense pressure, Disney went all in. The company suddenly began pledging to help efforts to repeal the law, releasing a statement March 28 that dug its heels in on the matter.
“Florida’s HB 1557, also known as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, should never have passed and should never have been signed into law,” Disney said. “Our goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down in the courts, and we remain committed to supporting the national and state organizations working to achieve that.”
DeSantis and his team pushed back, and the situation escalated until the Florida legislature rescinded Disney’s Reedy Creek control.
Some First Amendment experts have questioned whether Disney was targeted due to viewpoint discrimination and have pondered whether the company will take action. It’s unclear if there are grounds or what such a battle would look like.
Meanwhile, after the release of leaked videos from Disney leaders and staff discussing LGBTQ issues further frustrated many Christians and conservatives, worship leader and social activist Sean Feucht announced he will be leading a “Hold the Line” rally May 16 at the Walt Disney World complex in central Florida.
The Lake Buena Vista event will protest Disney’s handling of the situation. Feucht recently hosted a similar gathering at The Walt Disney Company headquarters in Burbank, California.
The pushback and protests come as polls show the majority of Americans — and even Democrats — support the Florida Parental Rights in Education law.
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