Former students from Atlah World Missionary Church, the infamous Harlem-based church that proudly boasts its hatred of LGBTQ people, say that church Pastor James Manning “psychologically abuses kids, teaches them to hate gay people and convinces parents to abandon their children,” according to a new exposé at The Huffington Post.
The church, which grants high school diplomas despite having been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, “runs a K-12 private school at the church, the two units of which are called Great Tomorrow’s USA Elementary/Middle and Atlah High School.”
The church’s outdoor sign has proudly proclaimed, “Jesus would stone homos” and “Obama Has Released The Homo Demons On The Black Man. Look Out Black Woman. A White Homo May Take Your Man.” Manning himself has publicly claimed that Starbucks makes lattes out of semen to appeal to gay men.
The Huffington Post interviewed “27 people connected to the church and school, including former students, employees, congregants and community members.”
One of the interviewees, a former student named Sharif Hassan, said that Manning locked him and others in the pitch-dark church basement for eights hours a day for three days during 2011. “His lungs filled with dirty air from the nearby boiler. Bugs and rodents crawled around him. Each passing minute felt heavy and lingering, and each hour felt like it dragged on for days,” The Huffington Post reports.
People who attended the school describe its leaders as being rabidly homophobic. Manning would often talk about evil “faggots.” Teachers would echo those sentiments, describing gay people as demons who were doomed to go to hell. A message from Manning on the school’s website directs parents to “Stop the homosexual brainwashing of your children!” …
Former students describe being required to watch YouTube videos during class that Manning had created … [which] put forward outrageous analysis about current events, replete with profane language and slurs…. In a recent video, Manning claimed that Obama and actor Jussie Smollett were lovers.
Hassan says that various congregants and student families live in apartment connected to the church. Some members even hand over control of their bank accounts to Manning. Students reportedly have to fast, not eating or drinking anything on Wednesdays, and are “assigned physical tasks ranging from cleaning out the sewers in the church basement to shoveling Manning’s car out of snow.”
“At one point, according to four former congregants,” The Huffington Post reports, “Manning even asked church followers to defecate in a bag and leave it at gay-owned businesses.”
An audio recording from a female student showed Manning sexually harassing and touching her, stating that he’d had sexual feelings towards her since she was 14. Manning called the recording “doctored” and allegedly began kicking out any students connected to the recording and told their parents to disown them, effectively making these kids homeless high school dropouts. No legal case ever resulted from the recording.
Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ youth, once brought young LGBTQ people to protest Atlah. During the protest, Siciliano claims that Manning grabbed a megaphone and “started shouting profanities at protesters, telling them their breath smelled like b*tth*les.”