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Homophobic church sign causes stir in Harlem

Cyril Josh Barker | 4/3/2014, 1:48 p.m.

Pastor James David Manning of ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem continues to make headlines over his controversial anti-gay messages on his marquee. The signage in front of his church was recently vandalized, leading him to say he was “bullied” by homosexuals.

The messages posted on the sign at the church, located at West 123rd Street and Malcolm X Boulevard, don’t hold back on Manning’s message that homosexuality is against God’s wishes and the Bible. Messages include: “Obama has released the homo demons on the Black man. Look out, Black women. A white homo may take your man,” and “Jesus would stone homos MT. 5:17 LEV. 20:13, DT. 17:5-7, JN. 8:1-11 Harlem is a homo-free zone.”

The messages have, of course, caused outrage with many locals who say the messages go too far in the continued conversations surrounding religion and homosexuality coupled with Harlem’s growing homosexual population. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Harlem is becoming one of the city’s top neighborhoods for gay couples and families to call home. Several Black-based LGBT organizations are headquartered in Harlem, including the Ali Forney Center, one of the largest and best known organizations in the city catering to LGBT youth, which took up space on 125th Street in 2013.

The LGBT Faith Leaders of African Decent, along with several other groups, have been at the forefront in fighting to get the sign taken down, saying the message is homophobic.

“I think the sign he put up is an attention getter. Pastor Manning may have seen a drop in attendance,” said Antone Craigwell, an LGBT advocate and founder of Depressed Black Gay Men. “Anything will get more money coming in and in his collections plate.”

Craigwell added that Manning could be doing more damage than good. He said the sign is an example of religion suppressing people from being who they are.

“How many people in his church are homosexual and are keeping their identity a secret because they want to believe in a God and belong to a religious family? He’s spitting in their faces. Is he going to bear the responsibility if they were to commit suicide?” Craigwell asked.

So what does Manning have to say about all of this? In a recent interview with the AmNews, he said he’s just preaching what the Bible says.

“The issue of homosexuality in the Bible has a clear definition of that,” he said. “The homosexual activists have been refuting the Bible like its trash. They say Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. Look at Leviticus 20:13.”

Manning added that he stands by his message, saying Black women should fear what he calls “white homos” who have the ability to “turn out” straight Black men and make them gay. He said this is done similarly to how pimps “turn out” prostitutes.

“It’s like jungle fever,” he said. “White men go after educated Black men and are turning them out.”

As for his beliefs on whether someone is born homosexual, he said that women have the biological means to reproduce human life, and that two men don’t and that it’s unnatural. “To say God created such a misfit is hysterical,” said Manning.

In retaliation for his message, Manning’s sign was recently vandalized with the words “God is Gay” in Black spray paint last weekend. Surveillance shows a male suspect climbing over the church’s fence and pulling the letters off the sign before spray painting over the message. Police are currently searching for him.

Manning said he’s a victim of bullying and believes it comes natural to homosexuals. He said that threatening acts come with being a pastor and preaching the word of God.

“Gay people have a herd mentality,” he said. “Homosexual people over the last decade have become bullies, like a heard of water buffalo gathered together. When it comes to gay pride parades, they go off the chain. They are bullies and they are unrestrained, and if you don’t contain them, they will run amok.”