Why are people mad at Mickey? Beginning last year, some of the country's leading Christian ministries have signed on to a full-fledged boycott of Disney's television programs, feature films, theme parks, and other products.

There is good cause for alarm. Michael Eisner's Disney Inc. of the 1990s has become a multinational entertainment and media powerhouse, which now includes the ABC television network, that bears increasingly little similarity to founder Walt Disney's family-friendly company. Today Disney releases movies under its Touchstone and Miramax labels that would have made Uncle Walt blush. Also, its new policy of granting company benefits to live-in partners of homosexual workers has triggered an angry reaction from Christians.

BOYCOTT POPULARITY GROWS

While Disney's questionable corporate-benefits policy and backing of scandalous films like Priest are of grave concern and should be addressed, the boycott poses deeper questions: Are boycotts clearly Christian? What scriptural principles, if any, undergird the boycott method? And when do boycotts become counterproductive? These questions urgently need answers because the boycott is rapidly becoming the weapon of choice of Christians in the public square, in part, because boycotts have a broad-based, populist appeal.

Recently, Christians have pressed for boycotts with increasing frequency. Within the last year, they have advocated boycotts of drug manufacturer Hoechst AG for its product RU 486, the abortion pill; against tobacco firms Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds; against all French products until the government ends its nuclear weapons testing; and against Calvin Klein for his lewd ads.

The campaign to punish Disney or other groups through boycotts is an example ...

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