A Texas church has come under fire for a Christian-themed — and allegedly unauthorized — rendition of the acclaimed Broadway musical “Hamilton” that appeared to conclude with a sermon by a church pastor comparing being gay to being addicted to alcohol or drugs.
The two-hour performance, which was produced and livestreamed Friday by The Door Christian Fellowship Ministries in McAllen, Texas, and RGV Productions, contained several biblical references not originally included in the Tony Award-winning musical, according to a description of the livestream by Howard Sherman, who is director of the Arts Integrity Initiative at The New School in New York City and not affiliated with the performance. The video of the livestream has since been taken down.
The show ended with a sermon by an associate pastor, Victor Lopez, that compared homosexuality to drug addiction, according to the full video of the performance. NBC News obtained a recording of the performance from writer and atheism advocate Hemant Mehta. Mehta would not reveal the identity of the person from whom he obtained the video.
“Maybe you struggle with alcohol, with drugs, homosexuality, maybe you struggle with other things in life, your finances, whatever, relationships,” Lopez said. “God can help you tonight.”
Sherman said the production, which was first reported on by OnStageBlog, also changed one of the main characters’ lines by adding the phrase, “Jesus gives me the strength to pull through; when I needed him most he was right on time.”
Another line from a video Posted by Mehta shows the actor portraying Alexander Hamilton changing more lyrics.
“What is a legacy?” the actor said. “’It’s knowing that you repented and accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ that sets men free. You sent your sinless son of man on Calvary to die for me.”’”
In a statement to the Dallas Morning News, Roman Gutierrez, a pastor at the church, said the congregation is not anti-LGBTQ and said the church had received legal permission from “Hamilton” to reproduce the show.
Shane Marshall Brown, a spokesperson for “Hamilton,” said “Hamilton” does not grant amateur or professional licenses for any stage productions and did not authorize the church to put on the performance. “Hamilton” was made aware on Saturday of an “unauthorized staging” of the musical from the night before, he said.
They were also told the church was planning to hold additional performances, prompting a cease-and-desist letter for “unauthorized use of Hamilton’s intellectual property,” as well as a demand that the church immediately remove any videos of the production from its social media and website.
The church was also planning to hold a performance on Saturday night. After “Hamilton” received a response to the cease-and-desist letter, the production informed the church they could proceed with their last performance so long as they did not record or broadcast it and would not put on any further production, Brown said. Another condition was that “Hamilton” “would be discussing this matter with the parties behind this unauthorized production within the coming days once all facts are properly vetted.”
The church declined to comment further to NBC News and did not immediately respond to a subsequent request to verify the veracity of Mehta’s video. Representatives for Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator and lead actor of the original production, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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