Pro-Trump Pastor Praises DeSantis for Revolt Against Disney 'Flaunting Sin'

Reverend Franklin Graham on Sunday wrote to his 9.8 million Facebook followers about how he admired Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis for standing up to Disney's current leaders, who he said are guilty of trying to "flaunt sin."

Graham, CEO and president of both Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is one of the most well-known evangelical Christian leaders in the United States. He has also long been a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, who enjoyed immense popularity among evangelical voters during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

DeSantis has been publicly feuding with Disney after the company's chief executive, Bob Chapek, spoke out against Florida's Parental Rights in Education law in early March. Commonly called the "Don't Say Gay" bill, the law has been criticized by activists who claim it could be harmful to the LGBTQ+ community. On Friday, DeSantis signed legislation that revoked Disney's self-governing rights in Florida that gave it special tax status.

"The morals of the corporate leadership of Disney today are in the gutter, and they want to redefine family counter to God's original design and flaunt sin," Graham wrote in a Facebook post. "Thank God for Governor Ron DeSantis who is willing to take a bold stand. We need more leaders like him."

Rev. Franklin Graham
Reverend Franklin Graham praised Ron DeSantis on Sunday while criticizing Disney. In this photo, Graham is seen at the Republican National Convention at the Mellon Auditorium on August 27, 2020, in Washington, D.C. Getty

"LGBTQ activists are using corporations to force their agenda on the public, and companies may want to take another look at what they are allowing to happen. Disney has gone too far. The people of Florida have revolted, and it's going to cost Disney big time," Graham wrote, before discussing how the company lost its special tax status.

He continued, "What has happened at Disney is moral failure. Walt Disney had a vision for wholesome family entertainment. He was committed to the family."

In December 2020, Graham wrote of how he was disappointed in the recent presidential election. But he maintained he was "grateful to God" for the four years of Trump in the White House and said the former leader will "go down in history as one of the great presidents."

In August 2021, Pew Research Center reported that 85 percent of white evangelical Protestant voters who said they attended religious services once a month or more voted for Trump in 2020. Eighty-one percent who said they attended church a few times a year or less also supported him.

While Trump carried the vote with most white Christian denominations, he and President Joe Biden were nearly split among white Catholics. Biden did much better than Trump among Black protestants, garnering 91 percent of the vote from that demographic. He also won with atheists/agnostics (86 percent) and those who listed themselves as unaffiliated (71 percent).

In a statement to Newsweek, DeSantis' spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said the governor was grateful for Graham's words.

"We appreciate the message of support from Rev. Franklin Graham and other Americans who are disappointed that Disney has evidently forgotten the reason for its success—'wholesome family entertainment.' Given this context, it is especially surprising that Disney would declare war on parental rights in Florida," Pushaw wrote. "Governor DeSantis will continue doing what's right for Floridians, and that includes standing up for parents' rights, child protection, and a more even playing field for businesses."

Reverend Graham also responded to Newsweek with a statement.

"My father was friends with Walt Disney and took me to meet him when I was a child. He signed a photo for me, and I have it hanging on the wall in my office. The hour-long program, Walt Disney Presents, that came on every Sunday night was one of the few things as kids that we were allowed to watch on television," Graham wrote. "I have always appreciated how Walt Disney offered wholesome family entertainment for millions of families around the world. Those family values are what made Disney such a wealthy and loved company."

He continued, "It's incredible how far Disney has fallen morally from its founder. I'm glad Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is standing for what's right, and I hope Christians will continue to pray for the governor and support him."

Newsweek reached out to Disney for comment.

Update 4/26/22 12:18 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from Reverend Franklin Graham.