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Neighbors Rally to Counter 'Sodomite Semen' Pastor's Hate Speech

Atlah Church

Harlem residents will gather Monday to stand up to James David Manning, who has posted church signage calling for the stoning of LGBT people, among other hateful messages.

Pastor James David Manning, who has infamously called for LGBT people to be punished with stoning and cursed with cancer, and has claimed Starbucks flavors its lattes with "semen from sodomites," is going to get a message next week that his neighbors have had enough of his hate speech.

Harlem Against Violence, Homophobia, and Transphobia is organizing a "Love Not Hate" Rally Against Hate Speech to be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at 123rd Street and Lenox Avenue in New York City's Harlem neighborhood, just outside Manning's ATLAH World Missionary Church.

Manning not only has preached his homophobic message from the pulpit and in online videos; he has also put it on signage at the church, visible to all who pass by. A message displayed last year read "Jesus Would Stone Homos," and the current one reads "You Sodomites and Freaks Have Soiled Harlem," rally organizers note.

"We want a neighborhood safe and welcoming for all," said Harlem resident Stacy Parker Le Melle, an organizer for Harlem Against Violence, Homophobia, and Transphobia, in a press release. "We understand ATLAH has a right to free speech, but this kind of messaging can incite violence in a city where assaults on gay, lesbian, and transgender people in particular is on the rise." The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs documented an 11 percent increase in anti-LGBT homicides nationwide from 2013 to 2014.

"We will continue to demand respect and reject the hate," added Jennifer Louise Lopez, executive director of Everything Transgender in NYC. Lopez last year went to the church with a video camera to ask for her stoning, an act met with bewildered looks from church personnel, which resulted in a viral video.

Some elected officials are scheduled to attend the rally, including New York State Assemblyman Keith Wright and City Council member Inez Dickens. "In this day and in our village -- one of diversity, one of worldwide cultural significance -- there is no room for such vile discrimination," Wright said in the press release. "The messages displayed by the ATLAH Church are not reflective of this community, but are grossly offensive hate speech that have no place in the streets of Harlem."

There have been other protests and vigils in response to Manning's messages, and neighbors have also sought to counter it with positive actions such as raising funds for the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youth. For more information about Monday's rally, click here.

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