A homophobic church known for promoting hateful messages is scheduled for a public foreclosure auction and two gay activist groups want to buy it.
The Atlah World Missionary Church in Harlem, New York, is run by Dr. James David Manning, who regularly uses gay slurs in his sermons and YouTube Videos. The billboard outside the church reportedly shows messages aimed at gay people such as “cursed be thou with cancer, HIV, syphilis, stroke, madness, the itch, then Hell.” The billboard has also shown messages about President Barack Obama, calling him “a Taliban Muslim illegally elected president.”
According to reports, the church is $1 million dollars in debt and will go to auction to pay its debts. A not=for-profit organisation, the Ali Forney Center, has started raising money to buy the church and convert the building into temporary housing for homeless gay youths. So far it has raised over $175,000 on its website.
The second gay group intending to raise funds to buy the church at auction is the Rivers of Living Water Ministries, a church which serves mainly African-American and LGBT worshippers and currently shares space with other congregations in an Upper West Side church. Its pastor, Vanessa Brown, said the message spread by the Atlah World Missionary Church “causes trauma.”
“It’s a trigger for people that have been thrown out by churches because of their sexuality and their gender identity,” she continued.
An attorney representing the church, Daniel S. LoPresti of the firm Shaw & Binder, said the firm is taking “all necessary legal steps to protect the church from the foreclosure sale of its property.”