NASHVILLE -- Southern Baptists ended an eight-year boycott of the Walt Disney Co. for lacking ''moral righteousness" and violating ''traditional family values" in a vote yesterday on the final day of the denomination's annual convention.
''We believe for the boycott to be effective, it had to have a beginning and an ending," said Gene Mims, chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention committee that put the Disney resolution before about 12,000 members at the meeting.
Convention delegates also approved a resolution that encourages parents to investigate their children's public schools to determine whether they are too accepting of homosexuality.
The Disney resolution, passed at the group's 1997 convention in Dallas, called for Southern Baptists to refrain from visiting Disney theme parks and buying Disney products, mainly because of the entertainment company's decision to give benefits to companions of gay and lesbian employees.
''We felt like it was time to end it," Mims added. ''We're hopeful Disney will do what the resolution calls for."
The resolution states Disney should serve ''families of America by providing only those products that affirm traditional family values."
Southern Baptists should also continue to monitor the ''products and policies of the Disney Company," according to the resolution.
Disney officials in California had no comment late yesterday.
''We have cost them [Disney] hundreds of millions of dollars," said Wiley Gray, a convention member from Florida, who spoke in favor of lifting the boycott because Disney had made corporate changes, including the announcement that Disney chief executive officer Michael Eisner would leave the company in October.
A spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based advocacy group for gay rights, said Disney continues to be one of more than 8,200 companies that offer domestic partner benefits to gay employees.
The resolution on schools says ''homosexual activists and their allies are devoting substantial resources and using political power to promote the acceptance among schoolchildren of homosexuality as a morally legitimate lifestyle."
Houston lawyer Bruce Shortt, who cosponsored the measure, said many public schools promote gay acceptance through officially sanctioned gay clubs, diversity training, courses against bullying, and safe-sex programs.
''It's just devastating to me what's happening to our children," said Robert Dreyfuss, another convention member from Florida.
Charles Warford, 71, a retired Southern Baptist pastor who spoke at a Human Rights Campaign news conference, said the resolution that passed was not worded as harshly as the original.
''I think most Southern Baptists realize the importance of public education," Warford said. ''And many pastors' wives teach in public schools. I think it's very unfortunate that homophobia is still very much promoted in the Southern Baptist Convention through publications and other means."