Walt Disney and Atheism

While the Walt Disney Company is under fire from evangelical Christians because their movie “The Princess and the Frog” contained things like voodoo and Ouija boards, we’re learning more about the namesake’s personal beliefs.

This excerpt from an article in The Wall Street Journal is especially interesting:

Walt Disney always called himself a Christian, but his biographers agree that he was skeptical about organized religion and rarely set foot inside a church. He insisted that any narrow portrayal of Protestant Christianity (or any religion, for that matter) in his animated features was box-office poison, especially in lucrative, overseas markets. More broadly, Walt’s fear was that explicit religiosity might needlessly exclude young viewers, while a watered-down version might at the same time offend the devout. Yet the studio’s founding genius also understood that, from the ancient Greeks to the Brothers Grimm, successful storytellers have needed supernatural intervention agents to resolve plots. So, Walt decided, Disney’s cartoon protagonists would appeal not to Judeo-Christian religion but to magic, which was more palatable around the ticket-buying world. (It’s no coincidence that Disney’s marquee theme park is called The Magic Kingdom.)

(Thanks to Trace for the link!)

  • Danny

    This is awesome. I’m a huge Disney fan and I thought The Princess and The Frog was great. It’s nice to know Walt Disney had these views.

  • http://claire-chan.livejournal.com Claire Binkley

    Hmm, I never thought about it before, but that’s right.

    The Magic Kingdom. Magic.

    [Not so fond of The Princess and the Frog myself, but I sat through it. It was okay.]

  • Rob

    The Magic Kingdom is a fantastic place! Just there in December with the kids.

    The best part is that if you are over 18, you can actually take tours behind the scenes to see that its not really “magic” after all. Just a lot of people working hard to entertain you.

    Wouldn’t it be funny if the churches opened up their behind the scenes for people? hehehe

  • http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com/ Eamon Knight

    On pretty much any day you can accurately say “X is under fire from evangelical Christians”, along with such other earth-shakers as “water is wet” and “ursine defecates in sylvan locale”. These people are the ultimate whiners about any pop culture item that doesn’t match up with their orthodoxy, and are rather upset that the rest of the world doesn’t take them seriously.

  • http://yamipirogoeth.blogspot.com Sakura

    …and people say Disney’s an evil corporation *listens for the evangelicals* but, I’m glad he decided to make that decision.

    …open up the behind the scenes of churches…with the amount of priests raping their congregation’s kids…I’d rather not see that part of it

  • Siamang

    There’s no Ouija board in The Princess and the Frog.

    We have a Voodoo fortune-teller. And he reads the “cards”. And, of course, turns a prince into a frog.

    I notice the Vatican has denounced Avatar for including pantheism.

    So I think some people have difficulty telling between fantasy and reality.

  • Neon Genesis

    Where were all the Christians complaining about the anti-hell views in Disney’s The Hunchback Of Notre Dame?

  • Twin-Skies

    I still think Disney buying Marvel heralds the apocalypse.

    Miley Cyrus will end us all :(


    *Runs and hides*

  • Valdyr

    I find it utterly hilarious how many Christians think Ouija boards actually work, and are dangerous. Ditto with “black magic” and “witchcraft” in general. How lame must the demon realm be if you can contact it with a fucking cardboard rectangle and a balsa wood planchette? It’s harder than that to get on the Internet! Especially if you’re stuck with dial-up, which is a better candidate for demon-possessed technology than any Parker Brothers toy.

  • Ashley

    I recently spent some time working at Disney World. The company is so diverse that they really can’t and won’t cater to one point of view… it doesn’t make sense. One one hand Disney was very gay friendly but at the same time holds events like Night of Joy (Christian music concerts held on property). I guess there’s something for everyone?

    And in any case, magic is something all little kids of various backgrounds generally find appealing.

  • maddogdelta

    Wait..What about Zeus?

  • TychaBrahe

    OK, that explains why the church scene was not part of 101 Dalmations. In the book, the escaping puppies take refuge in a church and marvel at the hundreds of little dog beds (kneeling benches) and the TV that doesn’t move (nativity scene). And since they are covered in soot to camouflage them, the vicar next morning wonders at the little circles of soot on each kneeler. It’s a very cute scene, and funny in the way that lolcats are funny.

  • http://lyonlegal.blogspot.com/ Vincent

    are people who practice the voodoo religion (a derivative of West African animism and Catholicism) are offended that it’s treated as “magic”?

    • Ksteiger95

      Catholics do not perform voodoo.  Umm… Catholicism supports a large array of prayer or interceding through saints, but not voodoo. 

  • Jer

    I find it utterly hilarious how many Christians think Ouija boards actually work, and are dangerous.

    Why? They believe demons are real and that The Prince of Darkness is out to get their eternal souls (or, failing that, get them to eat another cupcake and break their diets). That’s completely compatible with belief that Ouija boards are real, and also that they’re dangerous. After all, if you’re talking to a disembodied spirit you’re probably really talking to a demon, even if it claims to be a “ghost” – demons lie after all.

  • http://twitter.com/oticketc @oticketc

    While depicting something for entertainment and fun purpose….it is always better not to include anything that is linked to religion.