A New York City church known for its controversial signs relating to homosexuality had its marquee vandalized over the weekend, with the culprit writing "God is Gay" on the church sign that previously read "Jesus Would Stone Homos."
Surveillance footage from the weekend shows that a male suspect spray painted his retaliatory message on the sign outside of ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem at around 12:24 a.m. early Saturday. The video shows the male suspect jumping the church's fence, pulling letters from the church marquee and then writing his message, "God is Gay," on both sides of the sign using black spray paint.
According to the New York Daily News, police spent seven hours at the crime scene on Saturday dusting for fingerprints in attempt to catch the vandal. James David Manning, the pastor of the church, told the local media outlet that he hopes the offender will be caught, as he and his congregants "have the right of freedom of speech." The pastor added that vandalism of his sign shows that members of the LGBT community are "outright bullies" and he "expected them to act in a very violent way."
Manning made national headlines when he posted a message on his church's sign that read: "Jesus Would Stone Homos. … Stoning is Still the Law," and included multiple Bible passages such as Leviticus 20:13. The ATLAH church is known for its controversial messages regarding President Barack Obama and homosexuality, as its other previous signs include "Harlem Is a Homo-Free Zone" and accusations that President Barack Obama had "released homo demons on the black man."
The pastor's signage has drawn a large amount of backlash from those who decry the church signs as discriminatory and "hate speech." Recently, Jennifer Louise Lopez, a New York-area woman, filmed a video of herself knocking on the front door of the church and saying she had arrived for her stoning, as she was a lesbian. The video was posted on Lopez's Facebook and liked by over 4,000 viewers. It was also shared by over 3,000 viewers.
Lopez later posted on her Facebook that although she thought her stoning video was "fun and games," she is ultimately about peaceful protest and does not condone vandalism.
"While the stoning incident was fun and games, I am about peaceful protesting. I recently within the last hour walked past the church. The signs have been taken down and replaced with graffiti. I do not support vandalism and violating a persons or organizations right to freedom of speech. I figured eventually through peaceful actions, the church would willingly take down the signs and possibly replace them with positive messages."
The ATLAH church signs have also been criticized by bloggers, such as J.T. Eberhard for Patheos, who said the signs emblemize "paranoia" and "irrational fear." As The Christian Post previously reported, writer Jaxon Salander of the Americans Against the Tea Party website called Manning's actions a "bigoted temper tantrum."
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"[Pastor Manning] appears to be experiencing a bigoted temper tantrum of biblical proportions, laced with hypocrisy and drizzled in idiotic anti-homosexual blatherings of disdain for his fellow humans," Salander wrote. "That, or he simply wants yet another free media fix."