People have donated more than $100,000 to an LGBT homeless centre that is trying to buy a homophobic pastor’s church at auction.
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”.
But very different signs could soon be hanging outside the building, after a state judge ordered the Church premises be put up for auction over more than $1 million in unpaid debts.
New York LGBT homeless charity the Ali Forney Centre, which is looking to expand in the area, has launched a fundraising campaign to buy the church – and the karmic justice of the idea has caught on online.
In just days, the charity has raised $115,000 from online donations towards its $200,000 target, ahead of the auction later this month.
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.”