A homophobic pastor has been forced to put his debt-ridden church up for auction… and you’ll never guess who wants to buy it.
Harlem’s infamous ATLAH World Missionary Church has attracted attention many times – primarily for signs advocating the death penalty for gay people. The church’s pastor James David Manning, meanwhile, famously claimed that Starbucks flavours lattes with the “semen of Sodomites”.
However, this week a state judge ordered the Church premises be put up for auction – after it racked up more than $1 million in debts.
Ahead of the auction, one potential bid is attracting a lot of support: New York LGBT homeless charity the Ali Forney Centre is looking to expand, and is considering a bid.
Stacy Parker Le Melle explained: “When the ATLAH story broke, immediately I heard from neighbours: wouldn’t it be amazing if an LGBT group could acquire the property?
“What if it were the Ali Forney Center? We all knew that this would be poetic justice.
“We need to care for those kicked out of homes, often on religious-based grounds. We need to care for those most vulnerable to ATLAH’s hate speech.”
She added: “I am ecstatic to imagine a future where our Harlem corner will be a home of compassion, not hatred.
“We have a homeless problem in New York City. The de Blasio administration is working hard to remedy this, but LGBT young people are especially vulnerable with the shelter system.
“They need protection. The Ali Forney Center is a beacon, but they need more space for transitional housing and job training.
“I can’t imagine a better use for that property. Who needs more luxury condos? We need to care for the most vulnerable in our midst.”
So far, a fundraising drive by the Ali Forney Center has raised $31,000 towards buying the church – with a target of $200,000.