A New York advocacy group dedicated to homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens has succeeded in raising $200,000 toward purchasing a church known for its extremely homophobic views at auction.
In January, the Ali Forney Center launched an online fundraiser in an effort to secure the ATLAH World Missionary Church, which is located in New York's Harlem neighborhood, as housing for its homeless clients. By Feb. 8, Ali Forney Center officials indicated on the campaign's website that they had met their goal of $200,000.
The Ali Forney Center's Excutive Director and Founder, Carl Siciliano, praised the campaign's "extraordinary" success in a statement on the group's website.
"We have been overwhelmed with support and encouragement and now have the opportunity to turn a place that has promoted hatred and violence into a safe space for LGBT homeless youth," he wrote. "Could there be a more just outcome to the ATLAH foreclosure than that the young LGBT people most endangered by the hatred and contempt [Rev. James David Manning, ATLAH's pastor] promotes would take over his building?”
Watch a video report on the fundraiser below, then scroll down to keep reading.
Although the initial goal has been met, the Ali Forney Center will continue the fundraiser through the Feb. 24, when the church is slated to go up for public foreclosure auction, in order "to be in as strong a position as possible to acquire the building," Siciliano said.
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, has reportedly amassed debts and tax liens totaling more than $1.02 million.
Still, Manning blasted fundraising efforts by both the Ali Forney Center and the Rivers of Living Water, which is billed as a "spiritual place of refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Christians," to secure the church's property, and called the foreclosure order a "land grab."
He fired off at advocates who were spearheading the campaigns in a heated, rambling video posted on ATLAH's official YouTube page.
"When you start carrying a baby in your [testicles] and birthing that baby through your a**, then you can own this house," he said in the video. "All you fags can go to hell, and do it now!"
Fingers crossed the Ali Forney Center will bring love to a place so deeply associated with hatred soon.
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