A New York church known for its vehemently anti-LGBT stance is pledging to “celebrate” avoiding foreclosure with a homophobic demonstration.
In December 2015, Judge Joan Kenny ordered the ATLAH World Missionary Church to be sold at a public foreclosure auction, according to court records cited by DNA Info. The church, which has been known to display messages like “Jesus would stone homos” and “Obama has released the homo demons on the black man” on its billboard, had reportedly racked up debts totaling more than $1.02 million at the time of the announcement.
That all changed last week, however, when Judge Manuel J. Mendez opted to rescind Kenny’s order of foreclosure and sale, at least until it’s decided whether or not the church, which is located in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, owes the city for water and sewerage use. Places of worship can qualify for exemption, but church officials argue that they have been turned down for that immunity by New York’s Department of Environmental Protection despite applying five times, The New York Times reports.
A new court date has yet to be issued, but that didn’t stop the parish from proclaiming the latest order a victory in their favor. Last week, the church’s billboard lauded the news that the building’s pending sale had been “vacated,” and that, to celebrate, worshippers would “burn the rainbow fag flag in our courtyard.”
DNA Info tweeted an image of the new sign on Sept. 2.
“We gon’ get a whole bunch of them rainbow flags, we going out there in our courtyard, we gon’ stick a match to them and we gon’ burn them,” Rev. James David Manning said in the video, which can be found here. “They said they gon’ burn Bibles when they take our church… we’re going to burn their flag.”
The court-ordered delay of the church’s sale came after a New York advocacy group dedicated to homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) completed a successful fundraiser in an effort to purchase the building as housing for its clients.
Calling Manning’s threat to burn the rainbow flag “reprehensible, especially in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre,” Siciliano said the Ali Forney Center is planning “to surround his church with rainbow flags, the symbol of our pride as a community, to show that our pride cannot be destroyed, symbolically or otherwise.”
Siciliano told The Huffington Post in an email that he was still hopeful the Ali Forney Center’s initial plan to acquire the ATLAH building would eventually be successful and, with that in mind, would continue to raise funds towards its acquisition.
“If that is not able to occur, we are committed to utilizing those funds to expand our housing for homeless LGBT youths in another location,” he said.