THE New York City Police Department is investigating the vandalism of a homophobic church sign last weekend as a possible hate crime, after the words “God is Gay” were spray painted over the sign by an unknown suspect.

Taking place at the ATLAH World Missionary Church in Manhattan’s Harlem district, the culprit removed messages such as “Harlem Is a Homo Free Zone”, “Jesus Would Stone Homos” and “Obama Has Released the Homo Demons on the Black Man” before painting their new message on the sign.

According to the New York Daily News, the church’s pastor James David Manning, who has pursued anti-gay messages during interviews on Fox News previously, has applauded the willingness of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate the act of vandalism against ATLAH World Missionary Church.

“That’s exactly what it is,” he said.

“It was motivated by pure and simple hate.”

However, according to various sources such as Slate magazine’s LGBTI website Outward, there has been a growing fear within the Harlem LGBTI community that Manning and his congregation could switch from producing homophobic signs and videos, through to committing actual acts of violence.

“As a multiyear resident of West Harlem…. I’ll be honest, the fear that I might be attacked by Manning or one of his followers as I walk around my neighborhood has become an unwelcome part of my life,” Outward editor  J. Bryan Lowder said.

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