A Harlem Church and the Hate That Produced a ‘Hate Crime’

The NYPD calls “God is gay” a hate crime after a church proclaims that “Jesus would stone homos.”

ATLAH World Missionary Church in New York City
ATLAH World Missionary Church in New York City TWITTER

Does God hate fags?

According to Pastor James D. Manning, the answer, apparently, is  “yes,” because the marque outside Manning’s ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem bore these words: “Jesus would stone homos. Stoning is still the law.”

It’s the message that a passerby could read outside the otherwise typical-looking entrance to his church a few weeks ago—and, it would seem, a reference to Old Testament Scripture as justification for what can only be seen as an incitement to violence against gays and lesbians.

But it looks like Manning may have missed a few too many Sunday-school lessons.

The pastor, who has expanded the church into both a theological seminary and an online ministerial program called The Manning Report, also posted signs that read, “Harlem is a homo-free zone” and “Obama has released the homo demons on the black man. Look out black woman. A white homo may take your man.” His idea, I suppose, of loving thy neighbor.

But the story, as odd and disturbing as it already is, became even more complicated last week when an as-yet-unidentified individual decided to take action by removing the letters on the church sign and spray-painting over it with the presumably sarcastic observation “God is gay.”

Truth then became stranger than fiction, because after Manning called the police to report it, the NYPD chose to investigate the act of vandalism as a “hate crime.” Yes, a hate crime—a term specifically derived from the need to distinguish violent acts against LGBT people and racial minorities, the very kind of violence suggested by Manning’s sign itself.

I guess the New York City Police Department has nothing better to do now that the unwarranted stop and frisk of African-American and Latino men is illegal.

Though the pastor’s messages are protected under the First Amendment, it’s ironic that he’s being painted as the victim here.

“His signs were hateful,” Carmen Neely, president of Harlem Pride, said. “I think he should be investigated for hate speech.”