< Return to Adherents.com's Guide to Movies
< Return to Famous Congregationalists
The Religious Affiliation of Filmmaker
Walt Disney was born into and raised in a family of devout Congregationalists. Walt was named after the preacher at his family's Congregationalist church: Walter Parr, a close friend of his father's. [Source: Bob Thomas, Walt Disney: An American Original, Hyperion: New York, NY (1994), pages 24-25]
From "Walt Disney on Faith, Church, Bible Study, Prayer & God" on Disney Dreamer website (v. 29 April 2005):
...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... 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... Both my study of Scripture and my career in entertaining children have taught me to cherish them... 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...
From: Ronald Bergan, Sergei Eisenstein: A Life in Conflict, The Overlook Press/Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc.: Woodstock, New York (1999), page 198:
[Quoted from Roland Gammon's book] Faith is a Star, New York E. P. Dutton & Co. 1963. Roland Gammon went on a search of famous people for content on his 1963 book about prayer... 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 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.
As late as 1946, [Sergei] Eisenstein noted Disney 'as an example of the art of absolute influence -- absolute appeal for each and everyone, and hence a particularly rich treasure trove of the most basic means of influence.'
...Eisenstein and the twenty-nine-year-old [Walt] Disney seemed to have got on well, and they corresponded for some time afterwards. (There is another photo taken at the same time, with Eisenstein standing, his arm around Disney's shoulders, staring down at the figure of Mickey Mouse.) Eisenstein did not live long enough to discover that Disney later became an anti-Semitic, racist, union-bashing, anti-Communist right-winger.
Webpage created 30 May 2005. Last modified 19 September 2005.
We are always striving to increase the accuracy and usefulness of our website. We are happy to hear from you. Please submit questions, suggestions, comments, corrections, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org.