Update: After the following column appeared on FoxNews.com, Disney issued the following statement on Tuesday, December 2: “Disney employs word filtering technology to prevent profanity from appearing on our websites. Unfortunately, because so many people attempt to abuse the system and use the word “God” in conjunction with profanity, in an abundance of caution our system is forced to catch and prevent any use of the word on our websites. The company would have been happy to explain our filtering technology to the inquiring family had they contacted us.”
It turns out you can give thanks for a lot of different folks on the Disney Channel website – but you can’t thank God.
I received a Facebook message on Sunday from Julie Anderson, of Angier, North Carolina, a town located about 30 miles from Raleigh. Julie was writing to tell me about her daughter, Lilly.
Lilly celebrated her 10th birthday on Sunday. After church and a delicious lunch at the Golden Corral, the Andersons headed home – and Lilly made a beeline for the computer.
Now, Lilly loves the Disney Channel – and as she was browsing the channel’s website she noticed a question. The Disney Channel wanted to know what she was thankful for. So Lilly typed in her answer.
“God, my family, my church and my friends,” the 10-year-old wrote.
Lilly pressed the return key and waited for her answer to appear on the website. But her response did not appear. Instead, a message written in red popped up on the screen.
“Please be nice!” the message read.
Lilly tried again and again with no luck – so she told her parents.
“It was Lilly’s idea alone to include God in her post,” Julie told me. “As a matter of fact she was in another room from me and she came and got me when it wouldn’t allow her to post.”
Julie retyped the message and the same red-lettered warning appeared.
“We together figured out that the word God was the problem,” Julie said.
Sure enough, when they removed the word “God” from the post – the Disney Channel approved Lilly’s message. And then – Julie contacted me.
So, I gave it a try, too. I tried posting what I was thankful for on the Disney Channel website.
And just like Lilly and Julie, Disney prevented me from posting any message that included the word “God.”
I reached out to Disney for an explanation. Their people tell me that God was not intentionally blocked from the channel's website however at this point, they aren't quite sure why it happened but they assured me they had a team working on it.
Julie is not very happy, though.
“I’m not at all anti-Disney but to shame a ten-year-old, to tell her to ‘please be nice’ for thanking god and sharing her faith with others is what is upsetting to me as a mother,” she said.
Disney certainly seems to be implying that thanking God is not nice. Well, neither is blocking the Almighty from a website.
Julie said her daughter is a very loving and accepting child who was raised to understand that not everyone believes in God.
“We’ve always told her that inevitably there would come a day when she would be discriminated against for her faith but we never thought Disney would be the source,” she said.
I do wonder what sort of message the Disney Channel is sending when they tell children that mentioning God in public is bad manners.
“I want my daughter, and all children of faith, to know that it is OK to share God and Jesus with their peers,” Julie told me. “I want her to know that she doesn’t have to be silent about her faith. I want her to be strong and soldier on.”
Well said, ma’am. Well said.
It sounds to me like the folks over at the Disney Channel have gone looney tunes.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.