By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com March 24 2014 1:09 PM ET
A Harlem church known for its antigay signage has received a graffiti backlash.
Last weekend a man spraypainted the phrase “God Is Gay” on both sides of ATLAH World Missionary Church’s message board, reports the New York Daily News.
The act of vandalism, committed early Saturday morning, follows of a string of homophobic messages advertised on the same sign in the past months, including “Jesus Would Stone Homos” and “Harlem Is a Homo-Free Zone.” The sign has also included a Bibilical reference to Leviticus 20:13, which advocates for the death penalty "if a man lies with a man as with a woman."
A security camera captured an unidentified man scaling the church’s fence Saturday at 12:24 a.m., according to the Daily News. Police, who are still searching for a suspect, say the video shows him pulling off the letters before tagging his own message with spraypaint.
James Manning, the pastor of the church and the curator of its antigay message board, claimed the act had been “expected” from the gay community, and that it impinges on the church’s freedom of speech.
“Gay people are just outright bullies,” Manning told the Daily News. “I expected them to act in a very violent way.”
“I pray they’ll be able to find the people who did it,” he continued. “We have the right of freedom of speech.”
In addition to the message of stoning, Manning previously claimed President Obama had “released homo demons on the black man.” He had also posted a video to the church’s website blaming gay men for the absence of fathers in some African-American homes, saying white gay men would tempt black men away from heterosexuality, and denouncing Obama for praising black athletes Jason Collins and Michael Sam for coming out as gay.
In response to Manning’s message that “Jesus Would Stone Homos,” Jennifer Louise Lopez, a New York-area woman, recently called the pastor’s bluff. Captured in a video posted to Twitter, Lopez went to the church and said that she was a lesbian and had arrived for her stoning. The man who answered the door appeared mystified, and it turned out there were no stones on hand. Lopez said she’d be back.
[Photo: Keith Covington for Newyorkshka]