Hoping to raise money to purchase the foreclosed ATLAH World Missionary Church — run by the homophobic Rev. James David Manning — the Ali Forney Center reached out for help. In less than two weeks, the group hit its fundraising goal of $200,000.
New York-based Ali Forney, which operates the nation's only 24/7 drop-in center for homeless youth, hopes to turn ATLAH into space for more housing and programs. The group is facing a shortage of beds, with 200 youths per night on the waiting list.
The ATLAH Church, located in Harlem has posted antigay rhetoric on its message board for years, and Manning, who calls gay people "fags" and "sodomites," has preached against homosexuality in many online videos. Whether because of his incendiary language or not, Manning's church came upon financial troubles, was foreclosed on, and put up for auction. The church owes over $1 million to its creditors.
Ali Forney and its leader, Carl Siciliano, hope to use their $200,000 to purchase the church when it goes up for sale at the February 24 auction. Purchasing the church would serve as an important symbol for Harlem's LGBT community, Siciliano said.
"Ali Forney, who inspired the founding of the organization, was murdered in Harlem in 1997, only 12 blocks from ATLAH," Siciliano said in a statement. "In 2013 Islan Nettles was beaten to death in Harlem only one mile from ATLAH. Could there be a more just outcome to the ATLAH foreclosure than that the young LGBT people most endangered by the hatred and contempt Manning promotes would take over his building?"
To contribute to the ATLAH campaign, known as #harlemnohate, click here.