McAllen church criticized for its take on ‘Hamilton’

By Michael Williams and Maggie Prosser | Dallas Morning News
Lin-Manuel Miranda, center, as Alexander Hamilton in “Hamilton.” (TNS Photo)

A McAllen church is facing controversy for its rendition of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s popular musical “Hamilton” that had several scenes edited to incorporate Biblical themes — and which was followed by a sermon that compared being gay to having an addiction.

Much of the criticism about the show, which is produced by RGV Productions and The Door McAllen Church, centers on the idea that the edited show and sermon are the antithesis of what Hamilton and Miranda, who is known for his support of LGBT causes, represent.

The Dallas Morning News obtained video of the performance, which ran for about two hours, and a brief sermon that followed. The show incorporates several Biblical messages and references not included in Miranda’s original musical. Theatre-centric OnStage Blog first reported on the controversy.

During the 15-minute sermon, one of the church’s pastors talked about redemption: “Maybe you struggle with alcohol, with drugs — with homosexuality — maybe you struggle with other things in life, your finances, whatever, God can help you tonight. He wants to forgive you for your sins.”

Questions were also raised about whether the church had the legal permission to adapt the play.

In a statement to The News, pastor Roman Gutierrez said he acquired legal permission from the team behind Hamilton to produce the church’s show. In a sermon on Sunday, he said he received a request from a lawyer to remove videos of the performance published online.

Gutierrez also insisted in the statement that the church is not anti-LGBT and “everyone is always welcome.”