Church protest chases Donald Duck from Noah’s Ark

November 20, 2007

Donald DuckDonald Duck has been expelled from Noah’s Ark.

To be more precise, a Donald Duck film clip has been removed from a replica of Noah’s Ark in the Netherlands. That came after a local church protested that the film being shown to children visiting the ark strayed too far from the Bible story.

Some background first — a Dutch evangelical named Johan Huibers has built a 50-meter (164-feet) long replica of Noah’s Ark to teach children the Bible story that most didn’t know anymore. Finished last spring, it is about one-fifth of the size mentioned in the Bible but looks like the ship portrayed in religious art. Huibers and his staff have been docking it in Dutch port cities and towns including Amsterdam and Rotterdam for several weeks at a time so local children can visit it.

One of his teaching methods was a clip from the Walt Disney film Fantasia 2000 showing the Ark story. Donald Duck appears in it as Noah’s hapless helper, herding the animals onto the ship and busying himself with odd jobs during the voyage. In another non-Biblical twist, Daisy Duck also appears, but neither she nor Donald knows the other made it aboard before the Deluge struck. Their reunion on dry land is a classic Disney happy end.

“We want to teach the Ark story to as many people as possible,” Jacky Baken, one of the ship’s staff, told the Dutch newspaper AD. “The Donald Duck cartoon is a good way to do this. People remember it, especially people who don’t know the story.”

But some people at its latest port of call, Sliedrecht, remember the story quite well and are not impressed with the Disney version. “We must always try to stay as close as we can to the word of God,” a spokesman for the local church, a member of the Christian Reformed Congregations, told the public broadcaster NOS. “But that doesn’t happen in the way this film tells the story.” After a meeting with church leaders, the Ark staff decided to yank Donald for the rest of their stay.

“From a strictly Christian point of view, the film seems to be poking fun,” Baken told AD. “Of course, that is not the intention.” He added that the Ark would probably resume showing the cartoon once it left Sliedrecht.

Sliedrecht is located at the southwestern end of what the Dutch call De Bijbelgordel — their own Dutch Bible Belt. Our Amsterdam staffer Alexandra Hudson visited a town at the northeastern end for a feature earlier this year.

The cartoon has fabulous graphics and a fun music score. But that’s really not the point here. Is Disney a good way to teach the Bible? Are the good burghers of Sliedrecht overdoing it a bit?

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[...] ma hanno espulso Paperino dall’Arca di Noè. Beh, messa così, in effetti, sembra una battuta, ma la cosa è vera, anche se merita una spiegazione. Tutto parte da Johan Huibers, un ingegnoso olandese (ne abbiamo [...]