'Hamilton' team blasts Texas church’s unauthorized, homophobic performance

·3 min read

The theater team behind the renowned "Hamilton" production denounced "unauthorized changes" made by a South Texas Church that reenacted the popular play with Christian-centric and homophobic lines.

The Door Christian Fellowship, a nondenominational church in McAllen, Texas, performed "Hamilton" on Aug. 5 and 6 with edited lines to reference Jesus Christ, according to viral footage of the production circulated over social media. A sermon was also added to the production in which a speaker likened homosexuality to drug addiction, alcoholism and financial struggles.

"'Hamilton' does not grant amateur or professional licenses for any stage productions and did not grant one to The Door Church," Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesperson for "Hamilton," told USA TODAY in a Tuesday statement. "We issued a cease-and-desist letter for the unauthorized use of Hamilton’s intellectual property, demanding the immediate removal of all videos and images from previous productions from the internet, including YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, their own website, and elsewhere."

“The Hamilton family stands for tolerance, compassion, inclusivity and certainly LGBTQ+ rights. We are in the process of reviewing the unauthorized changes made to the script to determine further action."

After footage began to go viral from the Aug. 5 performance, live streams and social media posts were removed and inaccessible for the second planned performance. According to copyright law, churches do have an exemption that allows them to perform copyrighted music during religious services. However, that exemption does not allow for streaming or distribution of such performances.

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Roman Gutierrez, a senior pastor at the Door Christian Fellowship, told The Dallas Morning News in a statement that the church had initially acquired legal permission from the "Hamilton" team to produce the show and pushed against the church's iteration being anti-LGBTQ, noting that "everyone is always welcome."

The homophobic line in question during the play was: “Maybe you struggle with alcohol, with drugs – with homosexuality – maybe you struggle with other things in life, your finances, whatever, God can help you tonight. He wants to forgive you for your sins."

Gutierrez later said in a Sunday sermon that the church had been requested to remove clips of the performance that were published online to promote the show.

When contacted by USA TODAY on Tuesday morning, a spokesperson for Door Christian Fellowship of McAllen said the church would not be issuing any public response or statement.

Lin-Manuel Miranda created the Tony, Grammy and Emmy-winning "Hamilton," which retells the tale of the "10-dollar founding father" Alexander Hamilton and his contemporaries. The cast has notably been comprised of people of color and is often referenced as "a story about America then, told by America now."

"Hamilton" won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 and has been no stranger in standing up for inclusive rights. At a 2016 show, then-vice president elect Mike Pence attended a show and the cast addressed him directly by saying they were "alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us."

"Hamilton" fans promptly called out the Texas church's videos once they circulated online, with Brown adding in the production team's statement: "We would like to thank our devoted fans for bringing this to our attention."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Hamilton' team condemns Texas church’s unofficial, homophobic sermon