Thursday, March 31, 2022
It's Thursday, March 31, 2022.
I'm Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
The Closer You Get to the Coast, Cities, or Campuses, the Closer You Get to the Moral Revolution — More Evidence
We've been tracking developments in Florida, but of course, the big story is that what we are actually tracking are huge developments in the culture. Because this is a story not only about one law, one governor, one state, the state of Florida, the governor, Ron DeSantis, the law, pillory by its opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" law, but is actually about parental control in education. But we're looking at Florida just as a microcosm of a much larger story. And at least a part of that much larger story involves the intersection of all of these impulses towards moral revolution and America's major corporations.
And in Florida, that means one corporation front end center and it's the very corporation that has, for decades, been making the claim that it represents all American, American families, the very center of the culture, family-friendly, family-trusted entertainment. We're talking about Disney. We're talking about Disney, the giant entertainment complex. We're talking about Disney+ streaming video. And when it comes to Florida, even though there are several Disney installations there and an increasing number of Disney jobs that at least been announced going to Florida, the big reality there is on the ground. It is Disney World, the iconic park there in the central part of Florida that explains why there are so many fights from so many places in the world that are nonstop to Orlando International Airport.
This is a story that strikes very close to home for me and by that, I actually mean home. I was born in Lakeland, Florida, just a matter of a few miles from Orlando. And there were almost no families in Central Florida during the time that I was a boy that were untouched by the announcement of Disney World and then the arrival of Disney World. Disney transformed the entire region. And furthermore, it was a matter of incredible pride to the state of Florida, and that meant to those who were then several million Floridians, many millions added to that sense. Floridians found a great deal of pride in Disney, locating Disney World because of the reputation of the Disney Corporation, because of its family-friendly symbolism. Because if you had Disney World, then you were going to have families coming all over the world in order to experience that Disney experience. You had Disney's iconic storylines, narratives, and cartoon characters.
You had a brand that did everything it could to be synonymous with wholesome, to uphold American values, American interests, and for that matter, America's morality in a vague but nevertheless always present sense. But you need to fast forward from the early 1970s until 2022 and the world has changed and you knew that, and Disney has changed and you knew that. But how much Disney had changed? Well, we just found that out. The catalyst for this was the Florida bill just signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis that would prevent discussion of sexual identity, gender identity, issues in the earliest grades of the schools and would also prevent some forms of LGBTQ ideology from being addressed directly by the schools, that means the public schools regardless of the age. Now, you can understand why the LGBTQ activist community pressed back on this as the Don't Say Gay Bill.
The bill, of course, doesn't actually say that, but you can also understand how the major media did everything possible basically to follow the same line, even in headlines referring to bill as the Don't Say Gay Bill. Actually, what the bill says is respect parents, and the rights of parents, and the integrity of parents in their families as having the authority to raise these issues rather than to have an ideology or a new morality foisted upon very, very young children. And by the way, when we're talking about very, very young children, we're talking about teachers and educators raising issues that, let's just say, are not what parents want teachers talking with their five, six, seven, eight year olds about and is questionable whether they want teachers talking about those issues with their nine year olds all the way up through the high school years.
Now, as you think about this, you can see there's an inevitable collision because you have some people in this country and some people in Florida, evidently a majority of the legislators and also the state's governor saying the schools, and in particular, the public schools here should not push these issues on children. On the other hand, you have people who are sold out to the LGBTQ activist agenda who are saying, "No, that's exactly what the public schools must do." And so, we actually have here what is becoming increasingly clear across the American terrain. We are looking at two rival moralities in an absolute collision point. The absolute collision point here is this Florida law. People saying the schools must not do this and others saying the schools must do this. It's going to be one way or the other.
Some of you were asking, "What's this got to do with Disney?" Well, Disney intersects with this story precisely because Disney started out without a major corporate statement against this legislation. It was not on the line in a way that was sufficiently public for many of Disney's employees, particularly LGBTQ+ identified employees. They demanded that the company get far more serious in its opposition to this legislation. And that involvement came in the view of many of the LGBTQ employees there at Disney far too late. And Disney's corporate leadership has been buffeted by these internal dynamics and you had Disney's CEO trying to explain that he really was against this legislation and that he would meet with the governor to speak against this legislation, against the governor signing it.
I have dealt with the controversy to that point already on previous editions of The Briefing. It was a collision between Disney's CEO and the Florida governor. But the Disney LGBTQ+ community wasn't satisfied with the company's CEO, Bob Chapek's response. They wanted more. And so, Disney announced it was making a multimillion-dollar contribution to the Human Rights Campaign which turned around, and at least at one point said they weren't going to accept the money. And so, the conflict in this story is not just between say, Governor DeSantis and the Florida legislature on the one hand and Disney on the other, it is much of Disney's corporate leadership on the one hand and very dissatisfied employees of Disney on the other.
Now, there are a lot of things we need to consider here. For one thing, this takes us right into the heart of the fact that the moral revolution is being driven largely by those who are defined as the cultural creatives. You look at a certain intellectual elite with outsize authority in the society, you look at higher academia, the college campuses, the LGBTQ+ agenda is very much askance there, just try to violate it on the college or university campus, you look at the higher echelons of American bureaucrats and American corporate officials, and of course, you look at the corporations themselves and then the employees, but among the employees and among the companies, those that get closer to creating cultural artifacts, closer to film, closer to Hollywood, closer to major media, closer to the arts while you're getting closer to the revolution.
Now, some of you are saying, "Well, that's an interesting modern development." And at least one thing we need to say is that this is not exactly a modern development. As a matter of fact, as you look through the history of Western civilization, it has often been the artists, including some of the most gifted and famous artists, who have been the most transgressive. You could go all the way back to someone like Michelangelo and you can figure that out for yourselves. As I often say on The Briefing, remember the three Cs, the closer you get to a coast, the closer you get to a city, and the closer you get to a campus, you might add another C to that, the closest you get to cultural creation. Two Cs there, one's a bonus. When you think about that, the closer you get to a secularizing center of influence and furthermore, a center of influence that is far more likely to be committed to moral progressivism.
And in this case, that means champions for the LGBTQ sexual and gender revolution.
Disney’s “Not At All Secret Gay Agenda” Becomes Clear — Real Agenda Revealed in “All Hands” Employee Meeting
Now, we have known for some days that Disney has been involved in external communications on this issue and also internal communications. But we now know it's the internal communications that are absolutely explosive. At a recent digital, all-hands meeting for Disney employees, these issues were addressed head-on. And take it from me, they were addressed with amazing candor. Karey Burke, identified as Disney's corporate president said, "As the mother of one transgender child and one pansexual child," she referred to queer children and again, she refers to two of her own children and this is supposed to establish her credibility as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Again, one transgender child, one pansexual child, she went on to say that she wants Disney to have "many, many, many LGBTQIA characters in our stories."
And at one point in the video, she says she wants a minimum of 50% of characters to be identified, remember these letters, LGBTQIA, and also racial minority. So, here you see a Disney executive, in this case its corporate president saying, "Look, I have the credibility to speak to this. Disney is not only pro-LGBTQ," just go plus, plus, plus, "I have two children. One of them identifies as transgender, one is pansexual and that is presented as so. I am all for the revolution and I have the credibility to speak to Disney's enthusiasm." All of this basically became known because of investigative reporter, Christopher Rufo, who works for the Manhattan Institute and its journal, City Journal. Over the course of the last couple of days, he has been putting this material up on Twitter and elsewhere and he's not really having to even summarize the material or even just to describe the material.
Take it from me, these Disney representatives speak for the company and very clearly, they're speaking candidly in their unabashed enthusiasm for the sexual and moral revolution. They're also burning any bridges that might have remained with those who had hoped that Disney would remain true to its family-friendly reputation. Allen Martsch, identified as production coordinator for Disney television animation, went on to say, "I put together a tracker of our background characters to make sure that we have the full breadth of expression." He went on to say that Disney had realized, "all of our gender nonconforming characters were in the background." So, in other words, bad on us we're now going to bring them very much to the foreground.
But that turns out to be rather complicated not only as you're looking at say cultural creation in general but say animation in particular. Because how exactly do you identify a transgender animated character as transgender? Well, that means you have to make that identity, not only a matter of identity politics, but very clearly a matter of the narrative being told in the animated feature because otherwise, you would have someone dressed like a woman who would just be, considered to be a woman. Martsch got right to the issue when he said, "So it's not just a numbers game of how many LGBTQ+ characters you have. The more centered a story is on a character, the more nuanced you can be with their story. Especially with trans characters, you can't see if someone is trans. There's not one way to look trans." By the way, no way to argue with that last sentence.
He also went on to say, "And so the only way to have these canonical trans characters, canonical asexual characters," yes, that's exactly what he's saying here, "canonical asexual characters, canonical bisexual characters, is to give them stories where they can be their whole selves." So, just imagine what you're hearing here. It is the unabashed, undiluted ideology of an absolute sexual and gender revolution which we are now being told from inside the company is going to become a major part of the narratives that they bring to the nation. And remember here we're talking about specifically animated narratives. We're a long way from Cinderella, we're a long way from Aladdin, but we're looking at a brave new world, which is being announced to us here.
The program also featured Nadine Smith from the group known as Equality Florida. She's identified as something of a corporate partner for Disney, and she went on to make very clear that Disney is going to be dealing with the LGBTQ activist community in such a way as to bring far greater satisfaction. Nadine Smith went after the governor of Florida, saying that he and the legislature want to "erase you, criminalize your existence, take your kids." But another person who spoke, Vivian Ware, identified as Disney's diversity and inclusion manager, so just get ready for this, we're told not only that the theme parks are also going to be brought in alignment with this new morality and understanding of gender and all the rest, but we are told that much of this has already happened.
She went on to say that the company has already eliminated all mention of ladies, gentlemen, boys, and girls from Disney theme parks because after all, that is not inclusive enough and some of that language is offensive and exclusive. She says, instead they want to use language that would help to bring about "that magical moment". And that would include that magical moment for children who do not identify as either boys or girls. At one point, she appeared to say that the new greeting is to welcome people as dreamers of all ages. And Vivian Ware appeared to want to say that this issue is complicated and we have to recognize it's complicated such that not even some who would identify as female want to be called princess. But that just makes sense because if you really can't have boys and girls anymore, you can't have princes, you can't have princesses.
But then again, how's Disney going to present all those old products without going back and correcting all of those storylines? Just think about that. I'm serious about this. How in the world is Disney going to try to offer its classic collection which after all makes, let's just point out, a very clear distinction between a prince and a princess? That's rather necessary to the story or at least it was in the old days. There is no telling who's going to awaken Snow White from her nap in the new Disney universe. There's no telling exactly who might wake up Snow White from her nap in the new Disney canonical storyline. Other people speaking in this meeting spoke of their own agenda. One said her "not at all secret gay agenda, adding queerness to children's programming."
I have to admit that all of this hits pretty personally for me. I can remember a day when I only saw the wonderful world of Disney on television, which was after all aired on Sunday night, I could only see it if I was sick. And I had to be pretty sick if I was home from church. In our family room, we still have all the old VHS tapes of those Disney products, hearkening back to a far more innocent era. But we didn't know what was coming at that time. There were hints of a moral revolution coming decades ago, but no one actually would've been considered sane. If that person had pointed to 2022 and said you just won't believe what Disney employees are going to be talking about as they tried to justify the ambitions of the company in the third decade of the 21st century. There are a lot of people who are not at all committed to this agenda who are working for Disney right now.
And many of them are simply trying to figure out, "What does the reality of this company now mean for me?" There are a lot of consumers, just about every consumer in the United States, at one point or another, is going to have to decide, "What does all of this mean for me?" Intelligent Christians living in this culture at this time recognize that there is just about no safe place in the culture. There are very few major corporations that have no involvement in these issues. And indeed, there are probably very few that have no advocacy on these issues. But what we're seeing at Disney takes this to a whole new level. There are a lot of people waking up in the United States to the fact that they find themselves in a brave new world, a whole new world and some people find themselves trapped in situations that were simply not what they signed onto.
No doubt there are many people at Disney thinking that right now. But you also have people in the military, the American military, waking up to some of the same realizations, given the policy directives that are coming down from the Pentagon. You have people in higher education, in academia, in the corporate world, in so many different spheres who are finding themselves facing the fact that they're now working for a company that has the same name but it's not the same company. It's going to take an incredible amount of conviction and an incredible amount of wisdom for Christians to understand how we are to go through the years ahead faithfully. There is not going to be any easy way to figure that out. But this is why the Christian church has given this responsibility together.
This is why Christians are to reason with each other about these things on the basis of scripture. This is why we need the authority of God's Word. This is why we need the fellowship of the saints in the local church. It's why we need Christians talking about these issues out loud to try to figure out how every single one of us, how each of our families is to negotiate a way faithfully in this extremely complicated and troubled cultural epic. One of the sanest elements here is that it's the safe places or what we thought were the safe places that are disappearing, at least, in terms of that safety so fast. But this is, we need to understand, the way revolutions work.
They go very, very, very slowly until they go very fast. Folks, we've arrived at something like very fast.
‘I Don’t Want to Hide My Personal Life From My (Kindergarten) Students’: The Response of an LGBT Teacher Reveals Why Florida Needed the Parental Education Law
But next, one thing we do know is that it's not just the public squares, the public schools that are front and center. After all, it was the public schools that were at the center of the legislation just adopted in Florida. But the response to that legislation is itself incredibly revealing. The Hill, which is a news source that is mostly directed towards people who work on and influence legislation and other affairs there on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., The Hill recently ran an article, and just hear this headline, Florida teacher, "I don't want to have to hide my personal life from my students." Now, the media coverage on all of this has been really, really plentiful, but this is one of those articles that really does demand our attention.
In this case, it's written by Brooke Migdon, and consider this paragraph, "A gay Florida kindergarten teacher on Tuesday said he worries he will have to shield his personal life from his young students under the state's new Parental Rights in Education Law, which has been dubbed by his critics as the Don't Say Gay Law." Now, let's just look at that paragraph for a moment and let's run it backwards. So, here you have someone identified as a kindergarten teacher. Let's just remind ourselves, kindergartners are at least in theory, just about five years old. You have a kindergartner teacher saying that this law is going to restrict him from talking to his five-year-old kindergarten students in the public school about his personal, romantic, sexual, and family life.
Now, the amazing thing is, is that I think right now, if you can have this kindergarten teacher named Cory, if you could have him stand say on one side of the stage and then invite the governor of Florida to step in, Ron DeSantis, from the other side of the stage, now I think that if you would have a stage and you bring in this kindergarten teacher on one side and then you bring in Florida's governor on the other side, I think they'd be in agreement about one thing and that is this. That is exactly what this legislation is to prevent being talked about in the lowest grades of the school, in the earliest years, K–3rd grade. I think there would at least be agreement, yes, that is the conversation. That is exactly the conversation that parents do not want teachers having with children in those ages. Get a clue.
This kindergarten teacher said this, "As educators, we build relationships with our kids. And in order to build relationships, you talk about your home life, you talk about what you do on the weekends. It scares me that I'm not going to be able to have these conversations with my children." The next sentence, "I don't want to have to hide that my partner and I went paddle boarding this weekend." The teacher also spoke about students saying, "I have a little girl this year who has two moms and the kids are curious about her two moms. They want to know about her two moms." He went on to say, "If they go to her and ask her about her two moms and she doesn't know what say, they're going to come to me and ask me. So what do I do?"
Now, he is saying that in order that he thinks people will look at that and say, "Well, what we want you to do is to bring up all the resources of the LGBTQ+ community and advocate the sexual revolution and champion the fact that it is a glorious new liberation of humanity, that a little five-year-old girl would have two moms rather than a mom and a dad." On the other hand, you can look at a lot of Americans including a majority of the legislators in Florida and others look at that and say, "No, that is exactly what we don't think a teacher is supposed to do." Now, at least some people looking at this equation would say, "Well, evidently, it's going to become very difficult to have at the public schools." Well, some of us have been saying that very thing for a very long time.
CNN Now Places ‘Parental Rights’ in Scare Quotes Instead of ‘Gay Rights’ — Rights Talk Reveals True Clash Between Parents and Schools
But next, speaking about this larger context, you have an article that ran at CNN, it's by Zachary Wolf. And the headline, again, just tells you something you really need to know. The headline is this, "Focus on 'Parental Rights,'" that's put in quotation marks, "Chips Away at Gay Rights." Gay rights isn't put in quotation marks. So, the very headline here at CNN insinuates that there might be something called parental rights, but then again, it might not even be real. But when it comes to gay rights, hey, they're real, no quotation marks. The big issue here is just to think about that headline, parental rights, we are now told are chipping away at gay rights. Now, that gets to a very interesting issue. You have Mary Ann Glendon who has taught law at the Harvard Law School for many years.
She's a very important conservative thinker. Years ago, she wrote a book entitled Rights Talk. And she pointed to the fact that if you want to have a winning argument in our society, you generally argue on the basis of some kind of right. And if that right doesn't exist, you name it and then you demand that it be recognized. But as Mary Ann Glendon points out, Rights Talk has a very limited utility, particularly when you get to contested rights. So, we see this in the collision between the newly declared LGBTQ rights and the constitutionally recognized first liberty of religious liberty. But now you also see that collision when it comes between parental rights and gay rights. And at CNN, it's the phrase parental rights that gets the quotation marks around it.
But that's also tells us something else. This tells us something that Christians need to think about, ponder for just a moment far beyond the headlines. If we are thinking from a biblical worldview and we start with the primacy of marriage and the family in scripture, then who would we expect perhaps to be more likely to uphold a more conservative, more objective, more biblical understanding of gender and of sexual morality? You would actually expect that that would be parents who would be more conservative. And it turns out that that's actually very well-documented. Parents vote differently, in general terms, in statistical terms than non-parents. Even when it came to a recent Virginia statewide election, there was a very clear distinction when it came to the votes of women between whether or not the women were mothers.
Mothers voted overwhelmingly Republican. Those who were women, not mothers, voted overwhelmingly Democratic. That's not just to make this a partisan issue. It is to say that partisan issue points to a far more basic worldview issue. But it also tells us we're living in a newly complicated, newly dangerous land when its parental rights that have the quotes about the term rather than "gay rights."
Talk about a brave new world.
Thanks to listening to The Briefing.
For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com.
I'll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.