Scamilton: Lin-Manuel Miranda says no to this

South Texas church faces charges after illegal reproduction of hit musical “Hamilton”


Illustration by Michaela Bosco

The Door Christian Fellowship Ministries is currently under fire for staging and performing two unauthorized productions of the hit musical “Hamilton.” The production altered the original script to include religious and homophobic beliefs and removed content that did not represent the institutions values. The once historical piece detailing the life of Alexander Hamilton was changed to reflect the view of the church. This incident sparked outrage at the misuse of copyrighted material once footage went viral on social media.

The Door was founded in San Antonio, Texas, however the ministry expanded to the Rio Grande Valley, specifically McAllen Texas, with the leadership of Pastor Roman Gutierrez and his wife Nora. As a congregation, they seek to be an example of evangelism and have established more than 15 churches around the world. On their website, The Door describes themselves as a “bible based, spirit filled nondenominational family of believers” and seek to create an “openness in people’s hearts.”

In an effort to display the values they wish to embody, the Door staged and livestreamed two productions of “Hamilton” on Aug. 5 and 6 of this year, altering various lyrics to reflect Christian themes and morals. Lyrics from songs, such as “The World Was Wide Enough,” where Hamilton sings: “What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see / I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will sing for me,” were re-written to say, “What is a legacy? 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 addition to these lyrical changes, the production included a sermon that stated that God could aid in an individual’s “struggle with homosexuality,” comparing it to one struggling with financial issues, along with the use of drugs and alcohol. Further alterations were made to include Hamilton ultimately “giving his life to Jesus,” emphasizing that this show was not intended to reflect historical accuracy but instead a religious agenda. The original text written by Lin-Manuel Miranda includes little to no religious content.

Once footage went viral on social media platforms such as TikTok and Twitter, the content was scrutinized for its alteration of Miranda’s work. The proprietary rights of “Hamilton” distinctly state that no content or material should be copied, distributed, or modified.

The Dramatist Guild of America, an association centered on supporting and protecting both the artistic and economic integrity of playwrights, lyricists and composers, released a statement condemning the production. They shared their stance on the situation using the hashtags #dontchangethewords and #dontchangethemusic and stated that “No writer’s work…can be performed without their permission.”

In a statement posted on The Door’s social media, Pastor Gutierrez spoke on how this situation would be a learning opportunity for the church.

“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.” Gutierrez stated. The pastor went on to admit that The Door did not ask for nor receive permission to produce and perform material from Hamilton, much less to alter the content.

Lin Manuel Miranda took to Twitter to thank those who brought attention to the misuse of material occurring within the production and stated that legal action would be taken. “Now lawyers do their work.” Miranda stated in a tweet.

Miranda has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights. His 2016 Tony Speech for Best Original Score for “Hamilton” centered around the need for societal progression towards acceptance and against discrimination of marginalized groups. “This show is proof that history remembers,” Miranda said, “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”

Along with criticizing The Door’s production regarding its content, Miranda and creators of the show are planning on imposing a fine on the church for its production of the show. The undisclosed amount of money received from damages paid will be donated to the South Texas Equality Project, an organization that supports the LGBTQIA+ community in the Rio Grande Valley. The Door released a statement saying, “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.”