The Door McAllen church released a statement this morning apologizing for their production of ‘Hamilton’, in which they altered lyrics to fit Biblical teachings and included a sermon at the end of the show that contained anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric. In addition to their apology, the church promised to never perform the show again, to destroy all recordings of the show, and pay damages to the ‘Hamilton’ team which will then be donated to an LGBTQIA+ support organization.
The church released the statement, assumedly prepared by senior pastor Roman Gutierrez, on their Instagram account. It read:
“On behalf of The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church, I would like to personally apologize to the creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the producers of Hamilton, and the numerous others who contributed their intellectual property to Hamilton, for staging an unauthorized production of Hamilton that infringed on the rights and copyrights of many.
The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church did not ask for, or receive, a license from the producers or creators of Hamilton to produce, stage, replicate or alter any part of Hamilton; nor did we seek prior permission to alter Lin-Manuel Miranda’s work by changing the music, the lyrics, deleting songs, and adding dialogue.
We respect the copyrights of Hamilton”s author and contributors.
These copyrights are protected by federal law. We acknowledge there are lawful avenues to obtain a license to stage properties which we did not pursue. And it is never permissible to alter an artistic work such as Hamilton without legal permission. I recognize as the Pastor of the church that I have an obligation and responsibility to follow the law and educate our community about these protocols. Our ministry will use this moment as a learning opportunity about protected artistic works and intellectual property.
On behalf of The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church, we agree we will never stage the performance again and will destroy any and all video or sound recordings and images of the unauthorized performances or rehearsals, and request that all our members do the same. Lastly, we will pay damages for our actions.”
This statement seemingly closes the door on a three-week saga that captured the attention of the theatre world. The church performed the unauthorized production on Aug 5 and streamed it to their YouTube channel where it was instantly noticed by theatre fans. The case was a perfect storm of copyright violations. The church did not have permission to perform the show, make changes to its lyrics, use its logo, use copyrighted music as a backing track, advertise the production, and stream it on YouTube.
It was also reported to me from multiple sources that merchandise such as t-shirts with the Hamilton logo were also sold during the event. However, I have not been able to obtain photos of that merchandise.
Following our report on the production, the church issued a statement that they had received a license to perform the show. However, the legal team at ‘Hamilton’ stated that permission was given to only perform on Aug 6, with strict rules. The team also reserved the right to discuss this further with the church.
It is likely that this specifically worded statement is a result of those discussions. It is not known at this time how much in damages the church has agreed to pay.
However, according to a statement from the team at ‘Hamilton’, all funds will be donated to an LGBTQIA+ support organization.
A spokesperson for ‘Hamilton’ stated,
“HAMILTON will be donating all damages paid by The Door Christian Fellowship McAllen Church to the South Texas Equality Project (STEP). The South Texas Equality Project is a coalition of organizations that work to advocate for, celebrate, uplift, educate, and provide support to the LGBTQIA+ community of the Rio Grande Valley.”
In the days following the widespread outrage over the production, Lin-Manuel Miranda issued a statement where he said, “Grateful to all of you who reached out about this illegal, unauthorized production. Now lawyers do their work.”
It should be noted that the statement from the church does not apologize for their anti-LGBTQIA+ sermon. Nor does it admit wrongdoing with the other unauthorized productions with similar alterations such as ‘Disney’s Beauty & the Beast’, ‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Elf: The Musical’.