More than 50 LGBT activists demonstrated Saturday at ATLAH Missionary Baptist Church in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, demanding that Pastor James David Manning emerge and deliver the stonings he said LGBT people deserve.
The church recently posted messages on its marquee reading, “Jesus Would Stone Homos” and “Harlem Is a Homo-Free Zone.” The marquee was since vandalized by someone who spray-painted “God Is Gay” over it. An earlier message on the marquee warned that President Obama had “released homo demons on the black man.”
Jennifer Louise Lopez, a Harlem resident and transgender activist, organized the protest after having called Manning’s bluff recently by showing up at the church and telling a mystified employee she was there for her stoning. She told the crowd that Manning “is a very hateful and dangerous man,” according to a press release. She added, “We will no longer stand by while evangelical Christian churches misrepresent us."
Lopez, a member of the United Methodist Church, also called for a worldwide day of solidarity on Easter Sunday against churches that preach hate.
Others speaking at the protest included Jim Eigo, a veteran ACT UP member who said Manning’s dogma “keeps people in the closet about their sex lives” and discourages testing for HIV. “AIDS is still killing so many in this neighborhood,” said Eigo, who works with the AIDS Prevention Task Force at Harlem United. “We know that words of hate and retribution like Pastor Manning’s words just aid and abet this disease.”
Another demonstrator, who goes by the single name Lovari, read a passage from the Bible’s Gospel of Matthew that he said showed support for androgynous and LGBT people. “For there are eunuchs who are born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who are made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who make themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,” the passage states. “He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
Manning did not emerge, but one point the group moved to the side entrance of the church, where they repeatedly rang the building's buzzer and raised their fists while they shouted, “We’re here for our stoning! We’re here for our stoning!” Several church members watched from inside through a glass door, smiling and chatting, according to the press release.
Click through for more photos from the protest.