Thou shalt not steal — intellectual property. Nearly three weeks after a church in South Texas illegally performed a faith-based version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway hit Hamilton, the pastor of the church is apologizing and has agreed to pay an unspecified amount in damages.
Earlier this month, the Door Christian Fellowship Ministries in McAllen held two shows of the Tony Award-winning musical, which they rewrote portions of to include biblical references. The first performance on August 5 was followed by a sermon by associate pastor Victor Lopez who categorized homosexuality as an addiction.
That weekend, senior pastor Roman Gutierrez stood in front of his congregation and thanked the Hamilton team for “giving us the license to perform our version of Hamilton.” That, however, was not true.
On Tuesday (August 23), the church clarified in a statement posted on Instagram that it “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.”
Gutierrez added that his ministry “will use this moment as a learning opportunity about protected artistic works and intellectual property.”
Along with paying damages, the church has agreed to “never stage the performance again” and to “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.”
A few days after the church’s performances, Miranda took to Twitter to thank everyone who let him know about the unauthorized production. “Now lawyers will do their work,” he wrote.