“The Happiest Place on Earth”—unless you’re a Christian
Allie Beth Stuckey | Disney has created “an environment of fear” for its conservative employees
Not even the innovative designers of Tomorrowland could have imagined the bizarre reality of “The Wonderful World of Disney” today.
Surely Walt Disney could not have foreseen that his company, America’s most successful and beloved generator of family-friendly fun, would threaten to boycott states because of pro-life laws while filming movies next to concentration camps in China, or that it would condemn a bill that stops teachers from talking about gender-switching to 5-year-olds.
And yet, here we are.
The Burbank, Calif.–based company, which has major holdings in central Florida, is now at the center of a debate about the Sunshine State’s Parental Rights in Education bill, or, as the critics call it, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The legislation prohibits schools from keeping information about students’ well-being from their parents and prevents teachers from formally instructing K–3 children on gender identity and sexual orientation.
Angered by CEO Bob Chapek’s refusal to denounce the bill in public (though he had done so internally), a group of Disney employees published an open letter stating that the bill negatively affects “all members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the company and beyond.” The employees offered a long list of demands, including ceasing donations to politicians who supported the bill and making “substantial contributions” to organizations advocating for “the rights of LGBTQIA+ children.” All very predictable.
Many of these disgruntled employees have participated in 15-minute daily walkouts this month that will reportedly culminate in a full-day protest.
As I’ve written previously, I find it difficult to come up with an innocuous or legitimate reason to oppose this Florida legislation, but I consider the kind of opposition coming from progressive Disney employees especially egregious. Dogmatic and coercive, these employees are seeking to bend The Walt Disney Company to their ideological will. It is not enough that the company employs them, supports them, and adamantly agrees with them. It must also publicly acquiesce to each of their hyperpartisan demands.
But not all Disney employees feel this way. In their own open letter, conservative and Christian employees have made a plea for the company’s political neutrality, so that employees can focus on bringing joy to the families Disney serves. As it stands currently, non-progressive employees do not feel welcome. The letter accuses The Walt Disney Company of fostering “an environment of fear that any employee who does not toe the line will be exposed and dismissed.”
That’s chilling language. And, sadly, it’s familiar.
In 2017, Google employee James Damore complained about his company’s “culture of shaming” and questioned hiring policies, which he claimed rewarded positions based on sex and race rather than competence. Google subsequently fired him. Journalist Beri Weiss resigned from The New York Times in 2020, citing progressivism run amok and an intimidating environment in which “self-censorship” by those who question the liberal narrative is “the norm.”
The phenomenon is not exclusive to major corporations. A student at the University of Virginia recently wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times, in which she describes her concern about the fear students risk in voicing opinions that oppose left-wing orthodoxy. Brett Weinstein is one of several professors who, in the last few years, have been run out of their professions for their not-left-enough views. Who knows how many others stay silent for fear of losing their jobs?
This pattern is revelatory of the nature of progressivism. It is an insidious, infectious ideology that seeks to overtake and remake every entity it occupies. Its adherents have inherited the spirit of their Maoist predecessors in carrying out Cultural Revolution–style ideology sessions wherever they go, instilling fear in those who dare disagree with them.
Thus, I greatly admire the courage of the Christian and conservative Disney employees who are raising their voices. They are, as I like to say, raising a respectful ruckus for the things that matter. Unlike their counterparts, they have spoken clearly, convincingly, and kindly, as they make a compelling case for their cause.
It may be that Christian defiance against these destructive forces will not accomplish the changes we seek, but we should stand up anyway because the fight is worthy and it glorifies God. Doing good work while speaking the truth in love is exactly what we are called to. We should fulfill that calling with boldness.
God’s Kingdom is infinitely better than anything on earth—including the Magic Kingdom—and any step taken in obedience to Him is worth it. We must simply do the right thing in faith for the glory of God, one step at a time.
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