Today, the Walt Disney Company is a massive entertainment conglomerate. Originally, it was a simple cartoon studio founded by a man named Walt Disney. Despite the wide reaches of the company’s current holdings, it’s still primarily regarded as a provider of family entertainment. Many people equate wholesome, family entertainment with Christianity. So that leads to the question: was Walt Disney actually a Christian?
An Early Christian Upbringing
The answer is yes. Walt was raised in a strict Christian household. He was even named after his family’s Congregationalist pastor, Walter Parr.
In 1949, Walt wrote about his religion in Guideposts magazine. “I believe firmly in the efficacy of religion, in its powerful influence on a person’s whole life. It helps immeasurably to meet the storm and stress of life and keep you attuned to the Divine inspiration. Without inspiration, we would perish. All I ask of myself, ‘Live a good Christian life.’ To that objective I bend every effort in shaping my personal, domestic, and professional activities and growth.”
Walt Disney on the Power of Prayer
Walt also wrote at length about his personal beliefs in the 1963 book, Faith is a Star:
“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.”
Actions Are More Powerful Than Words
Walt continues, “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…”
“Many times during those difficult years…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.”
“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.”
Walt Disney Owes His Success to His Christian Upbringing
“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.”
So yes, Walt Disney was indeed a Christian man. And he sought to bring the morality of the church into his clean, family-oriented films.