Disney Accused By Catholic Cleric of
Corrupting Children's Minds
November 29, 2008
Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth in West Sussex,
has accused the corporation of "exploiting spirituality"
to sell its products and of turning Disneyland into a
modern day pilgrimage site.
He argues that it pretends to provide stories with a
moral message, but has actually helped to create a more
In a guide to helping people find happiness, the abbot,
who starred in the hit-BBC series The Monastery, warns
that society is in danger of losing its soul because of
growing consumerism and the decline of religion.
He suggests that many people have become obsessed with
work, sex and eating in an attempt to ignore their
underlying unhappiness, and criticises corporations and
industries that have benefited from promoting false
notions of fulfilment.
Fr Jamison, who has been tipped as a contender to
succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor as the next
Archbishop of Westminster, targets the behaviour of
Disney in particular, which he says is "a classic
example" of how consumerism is being sold as an
alternative to finding happiness in traditional
While he acknowledges that Disney stories carry messages
showing good triumphing over evil, he argues this is
part of a ploy to persuade people that they should buy
Disney products in order to be "a good and happy
He cites films such as Sleeping Beauty and 101
Dalmatians that feature moral battles, but get into
children's imaginations and make them greedy for the
merchandise that goes with them.
"The message behind every movie and book, behind every
theme park and T-shirt is that our children's world
needs Disney," he says.
"So they absolutely must go to see the next Disney
movie, which we'll also want to give them on DVD as a
"They will be happier if they live the full Disney
experience; and thousands of families around the world
buy into this deeper message as they flock to
He continues: "This is the new pilgrimage that children
desire, a rite of passage into the meaning of life
according to Disney.
"Where once morality and meaning were available as part
of our free cultural inheritance, now corporations sell
them to us as products."
Fr Jamison, who is one of Britain's most prominent
Catholic clerics, claims that brands such as Disney
market themselves to be about more than mere materialism
to create an addiction to consumption.
"This is basically the commercial exploitation of
spirituality," he says, adding that as a result Disney
and other corporations "inhabit our imagination".
"Once planted there they can make us endlessly greedy.
And that is exactly what they are doing."
The Walt Disney Company, founded in 1923 by brothers
Walt and Roy Disney, is one of the world's biggest
entertainment companies. It owns 11 theme parks and
several television networks, while its Hollywood studios
have produced more than 200 feature films.
Last week, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu,
expressed similar concerns about the direction of
society when he said that social cohesion has been
eradicated due to "rampant consumerism and
In 2006, Lord Layard, the Government's "happiness Tsar",
urged for a rethink of economic and social policy after
concluding that the pursuit of financial success has led
to a rise in depression and emotional impoverishment.
However, in Fr Jamison's new book, Finding Happiness, he
suggests that many of the answers can be found by people
living more simply.
The book, published this week, urges people to reject
the superficial temptations offered by contemporary
He criticises the obsession with celebrity, which he
blames for creating jealousy and a society in which
people are dissatisfied with their life.
"Celebrity news magazines do no apparent external harm,
but are a complete waste of interior time and space.
"Envy tells us to stop facing the challenges of the
present life and to live in some future fantasy. Such
envy drives a large part of our consumer culture."
People need to learn to control their thoughts, and
practice more self-discipline and self-control in their
life, he says.
He says there are "eight thoughts" which need to be
controlled to help people to discover happiness. Six of
them (anger, pride, gluttony, lust, greed, and spiritual
apathy or sloth) are found among the list of deadly
sins. To this he adds sadness and vanity.
Fr Jamison has risen to be one of Britain's most
well-known Catholic clerics following the screening of
The Monastery, which was filmed at Worth Abbey where he
This article is copyrighted material, the use of
which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We
are making such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic,
democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this
constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided
for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17
U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without
profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational purposes. For more
information go to:
you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the
Website Designed & Maintained By:
AfterFive by Design, Inc.
CCFC Logo And Fact Sheets By:
Copyright 2004 Commercial Free
Childhood. All rights reserved