Texas church issues apology for unauthorised ‘Christian’ Hamilton that rewrote bawdy raps
A church in Texas has apologised to Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and agreed to pay legal damages after staging an unauthorised production of the hit Broadway musical whose songs and dialogue had been changed to include Christian themes.
Produced by nondenominational church The Door McAllen, the production was followed by a sermon stating that God could help people struggling with homosexuality.
It was first livestreamed on Friday 5 August. Clips were subsequently shared on social media and lawyers for the official Hamilton sent a cease-and-desist letter.
In a statement posted on Instagram on Tuesday, church pastor Roman Gutierrez personally apologised to Miranda and the writers and producers of Hamilton for staging a production without permission that “infringed on the rights and copyrights of many”.
Related: Lin-Manuel Miranda: ‘Doing Hamilton every night saved me. It kept my head from getting off the swivel’
“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.
“And it is never permissible to alter an artistic work such as Hamilton without legal permission,” the statement continued. “Our ministry will use this moment as a learning opportunity about protected artistic works and intellectual property.”
In clips of the production, which circulated on Twitter, a scene was added in which Alexander Hamilton repents, accepting Jesus Christ as his lord and saviour. Lyrics of Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story and That Would Be Enough were also changed to include reference to Jesus, with swear words and sex references removed elsewhere.
In the show’s opening line, Hamilton was no longer a “bastard, orphan, son of a whore”; instead, he became a “scoundrel, orphan, son of a harlot”.
In a rap by Hercules Mulligan, “I heard ya mother say ‘come again’” became “Your boy’s spying for the government”; the line “Lock up your daughters and horses” became “Lock up your secrets and horses”; and “It’s hard to have intercourse over four sets of corsets” became “It’s hard to keep them from me when I’m coming for your sources.”
After the production, which was staged multiple times, a pastor delivered a sermon stating: “Maybe you struggle with alcohol, with drugs, homosexuality, maybe you struggle with other things in life, your finances – whatever – relationships. God can help you tonight. He wants to forgive you for your sins.”
In a statement to the Dallas News, the church said it was not anti-LGBT, saying “everyone is welcome”.
The church pastor agreed to destroy all video, sound and images of the production, and requested all church members do the same.
A spokesperson for Hamilton told the New York Times it will donate all damages to a nonprofit coalition supporting the LGBTQ community in South Texas, saying in a previous statement: “The ‘Hamilton’ family stands for tolerance, compassion, inclusivity and certainly L.G.B.T.Q.+ rights.”