Christians Outraged After Disney Makes Minor Change to Candlelight Processional

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Left: Neil Patrick Harris in a gray suit, standing in front of a choir in green robes, as he narrates EPCOT's Candlelight Processional. Right: Sunlight beams on a wooden cross.

The Candlelight Processional was one of Walt Disney’s favorite traditions at Disneyland Park and was later brought to EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort. It remains one of the only religious experiences at the Disney Parks and is a Christmas must-do for many families visiting EPCOT World Showcase.

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Each year, Walt Disney World Resort announces a lineup of celebrity narrators for the Candlelight Processional, which also features an orchestra, a Disney Cast Member choir, and the Voices of Liberty.

Simu Liu smiles as a choir performs behind him.
Credit: Inside the Magic Jess Colopy

Returning celebrity narrators include Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris. The first performances of the season kicked off on November 25 and 26, coinciding with the return of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays. These six performances were narrated by Candlelight Processional newcomer Simu Liu, famous for his starring role in Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).

We attended one of Liu’s performances, which filled up immediately after crowds of standby Guests lined up for hours to watch the performance. As breathtaking and moving as the Candlelight Processional was, some Christians are upset with one change introduced for the 2022 season.

EPCOT festival of the holidays candlelight processional
Credit: Disney

John F. Trent, editor-in-chief of Bounding into Comics, summarized what many have said on social media in an Op-Ed published Tuesday. Trent claims that by altering a poem read during the Candlelight Processional, Liu rejected the divinity of Jesus Chris.

One Solitary Life” by James Allan (1926) has long been a part of the Candlelight Processional. The poem describes the simple conditions Jesus Christ lived in on earth and the positive impact he had on people nonetheless.

Candlelight Processional
Credit: Disney

Christians like Trent and Twitter user @wdwpro1 claim that Disney now requires narrators to state multiple times that Jesus Christ was just a man, a line not included in Allan’s original poem:

Disney Attacks Christianity for Christmas
The decades-old #CandlelightProcessional at Walt #DisneyWorld and #Disneyland is a super-popular retelling of the nativity story. Now in the ceremony, Disney is declaring in the official script that Jesus was “simply a man”.

“Jesus Christ is not simply a man. He is God as well,” Trent wrote. “The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs, For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his ‘beloved Son,’ in whom the Father is ‘well pleased’; God tells us to listen to him.”

Trent described the Candlelight Processional as “Disney’s latest attack on Jesus Christ and his divinity as the one, true God.”

A Christmas Choir sings at EPCOT
Credit: Orlando Weekly

Another Twitter user, Joshua Harris (@JLHomni), shared his thoughts about the change and tagged Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has battled with The Walt Disney Company this year:

 @realchrisrufo & @GovRonDeSantis Iger-led Disney is subversively forcing Christians to both recite and listen to blasphemous declarations about their religion.

Harris’s tweet was met with overwhelming backlash, as fans pointed out that no one is “forced” to purchase a Disney Park ticket or listen to the Candlelight Processional on their visit. While Liu did mention that Jesus Christ was a man, he did so to emphasize the positive impact one human had on others and inspire Guests to do the same.

The Walt Disney Company has not commented on any changes to the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT or Disneyland Park.

What do you think about the Candlelight Processional? 

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