Ongoing court delays are seen as a victory for the conservative Pastor of ATLAH in Harlem, but a local LGBT organization says his time is running out.
HARLEM, NY. - Reverend James Manning of the ATLAH World Missionary Church in New York is using an old form of protest to "celebrate" yet another delay in the ongoing battle to keep his conservative and anti-LGBT church from closing.
The marquee outside the historic church invites the public to come witness the desecration-by-burning of the “rainbow fag flag," on a date yet to be announced.
This is in celebration to a recent decision by the New York courts to postpone a bankruptcy auction.
Manning has been in a lot of trouble with the City of New York because he refuses to pay the mounting utility bills of which he says he is exempt, but the city says otherwise, citing that the organization holds tenant-occupied apartment buildings on the property.
The Ali Forney Center (AFC) which dedicates its services to LGBT homeless youth is organizing a protest of their own in response to the flag burning.
“Reverend Manning’s threat to burn the rainbow flag in the courtyard of his church is reprehensible, especially in the aftermath of the Orlando Massacre,” said the founder of AFC, Carl Siciliano.
Siciliano’s organization is hoping to buy the ATLAH building and one of its first orders of business should they succeed is to surround the property with Pride flags.
“Our pride cannot be destroyed, symbolically or otherwise,’ he said. “The best response to his hate is a display of community love and pride by the LGBT community and our allies.”
ATLAH dodged another foreclosure auction back in February when New York State Supreme Court Judge, Barbara Jaffe, halted the sell-off until an April 21 hearing which was then postponed until June 29.
On September 2, 2016, the court vacated the foreclosure and restored the case to the calendar, giving Manning even more time to make further arguments as to why he should not pay the over $1 million dollars in utility fees.
Although Manning sees this delay as a celebration over a community he says should be killed by stoning, also an opportunity to burn their symbol of unity, the AFC doesn’t see it as a defeat rather a stall to the inevitable.
“All he [Manning] has won for now is the opportunity to incur many further legal costs as he tries to escape the consequences of decades of failure to pay ATLAH’s water bills,” Siciliano said.