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Duped by Disney?

Issue: "Building a better boycott," Oct. 4, 1997

In more innocent times, the annual "Night of Joy" at Walt Disney World must have seemed harmless. Open the park after hours to those with special tickets, fill the various stages with contemporary-Christian musicians, and present the predominantly evangelical crowd with the rare opportunity of worshiping God and riding Space Mountain at the same time.

In light of the current Southern Baptist boycott, however, "Night of Much-Needed Positive PR" might have been a better title for this year's "Night of Joy." With Christians shunning Disney in record numbers, the decision of high-profile CCM performers such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Jars of Clay, Anointed, and Jaci Velasquez to perform at Disney World made them seem more like corporate puppets than musical missionaries.

Still, Mr. Chapman issued a written statement in which he said that he has "always seen 'Night of Joy' as a tremendous opportunity, not only for ministry to the thousands of Christians who can be encouraged and challenged in their walk, but also as a great outreach opportunity for those kids who bring their non-Christian friends."

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His fellow performers avoided such self-congratulatory self-justification by clamming up altogether: Despite advance word that their "publicists [would] welcome ... inquiries concerning telephone interviews," spokesmen for Jars of Clay, Anointed, and Miss Velasquez did not return calls. (A Myrrh publicist did say, however, that because Miss Velasquez is only 17, she may not be well suited to discuss the issues involved.)

Should some CCM musicians uncritically dismiss a serious effort on the part of their fellow believers to nudge the culture toward righteousness?

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