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Walt Disney on Faith

Walt
Disney on Faith, Church, Bible Study, Prayer & God.

In these days of world tensions,
when the faith of men is being tested as never before, I am personally
thankful that my parents taught me at a very early age to have a strong
personal belief and reliance in the power of prayer for Divine inspiration.
My people were members of the Congregational Church in our home town of
Marceline, Missouri. It was there where I was first taught the efficacy of
religion … how it helps us immeasurably to meet the trial and stress of
life and keeps us attuned to the Divine inspiration. Later in DeMolay, I
learned to believe in the basic principle of the right of man to exercise
his faith and thoughts as he chooses. In DeMolay, we believe in a supreme
being, in the fellowship of man, and the sanctity of the home. DeMolay
stands for all that is good for the family and for our country.

Every person has his own ideas of
the act of praying for God�s guidance, tolerance, and mercy to fulfill his
duties and responsibilities. My own concept of prayer is not as a plea for
special favors nor as a quick palliation for wrongs knowingly committed. A
prayer, it seems to me, implies a promise as well as a request; at the
highest level, prayer not only is a supplication for strength and guidance,
but also becomes an affirmation of life and thus a reverent praise of God.

Deeds rather than words express my
concept of the part religion should play in everyday life. I have watched
constantly that in our movie work the highest moral and spiritual standards
are upheld, whether it deals with fable or with stories of living action.
This religious concern for the form and content of our films goes back 40
years to the rugged financial period in Kansas City when I was struggling to
establish a film company and produce animated fairy tales. Many times during
those difficult years, even as we turned out Alice in Cartoonland and later
in Hollywood the first Mickey Mouse, we were under pressure to sell out or
debase the subject matter or go “commercial” in one way or
another. But we stuck it out — my brother Roy and other loyal associates —
until the success of Mickey Mouse and Silly Symphonies finally put us in the
black. Similarly, when war came to the United States in 1941, we turned from
profitable popular movie-making to military production for Uncle Sam.
Ninety-four per cent of the Disney facilities in Hollywood became engaged in
special government work, while the remainder was devoted to the creation of
morale building comedy, short subjects.

Both my study of Scripture and my
career in entertaining children have taught me to cherish them. But I
don�t believe in playing down to children, either in life or in motion
pictures. I didn�t treat my own youngsters like fragile flowers, and I
think no parent should.

Children are people, and they should
have to reach to learn about things, to understand things, just as adults
have to reach if they want to grow in mental stature. Life is composed of
lights and shadows, and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if
we tried to pretend there were no shadows. Most things are good, and they
are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not
doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important
thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil, and that
is what our pictures attempt to do.

The American child is a highly
intelligent human being — characteristically sensitive, humorous,
open-minded, eager to learn, and has a strong sense of excitement, energy,
and healthy curiosity about the world in which he lives. Lucky indeed is the
grown-up who manages to carry these same characteristics into adult life. It
usually makes for a happy and successful individual. In our full-length
cartoon features, as well as in our live action productions, we have tried
to convey in story and song those virtues that make both children and adults
attractive. I have long felt that the way to keep children out of trouble is
to keep them interested in things. Lecturing to children is no answer to
delinquency. Preaching won�t keep youngsters out of trouble, but keeping
their minds occupied will.

Thus, whatever success I have had in
bringing clean, informative entertainment to people of all ages, I attribute
in great part to my Congregational upbringing and my lifelong habit of
prayer. To me, today, at age sixty-one, all prayer, by the humble or highly
placed, has one thing in common: supplication for strength and inspiration
to carry on the best human impulses which should bind us together for a
better world. Without such inspiration, we would rapidly deteriorate and
finally perish. But in our troubled time, the right of men to think and
worship as their conscience dictates is being sorely pressed. We can retain
these privileges only by being constantly on guard and fighting off any
encroachment on these precepts. To retreat from any of the principles handed
down by our forefathers, who shed their blood for the ideals we still
embrace, would be a complete victory for those who would destroy liberty and
justice for the individual.

Credit:Faith is a Star  Gammon, New York E. P. Dutton & Co. 1963

 Roland Gammon went on a search of famous people for content on his 1963 book about prayer. “FAITH IS A
STAR”   Walt Disney wrote the article above for this
publication. Walt Disney held deep personal beliefs.  Elias Disney
(Walt’s Dad) was a deacon and  named Walt after the family minister
minister Walter Parr. (St. Paul Congregational Church in Chicago) Walt’s
brother Herbert had a daughter named Dorothy and she married a minister,
Glenn Puder. It was at Walt’s request that the Reverend Puder delivered
the invocation at Disneyland’s grand opening on July 17, 1955. Represented
at the dedication were Catholic, Jewish and Protestant
faiths.

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