A leading Roman Catholic cleric in England has accused the Walt Disney Company of corrupting children, encouraging greed and turning its make-believe world into a latter-day pilgrimage site.
Christopher Jamison, the abbot of Worth Abbey in southern England, charges Disney with “exploiting spirituality” and helping to generate a culture of materialism while pretending to provide movies, books and theme parks with a moral message.
Jamison is not only the star of a BBC television series, The Monastery, but also a candidate to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor as leader of the Catholic population of England and Wales.
In his new book, Finding Happiness, Jamison cites Disney films such as Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians as examples of how the corporation entices children to buy its products if they want to see themselves as part of “a good and happy family.”
According to the cleric, “The message behind every movie and book, behind every theme park and T-shirt, is that our children’s world needs Disney.” Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California, in 1955, followed by Disney World in Florida and theme parks in other countries.
“This is the new pilgrimage that children desire, a rite of passage into the meaning of life according to Disney,” the cleric said. “Where once morality and meaning were available as part of our free cultural inheritance, now corporations sell them to us as products.”
The corporation, founded by brothers Walt and Roy Disney in 1923 and based in Burbank, California, has produced more than 200 films in the 85 years since, and today owns 11 theme parks and several television networks around the world. –Religion News Service