"Atlah Church Sign" by Uucp / CC BY 3.0

Atlah Church Is Classified As A Hate Group. It’s Able To Run A School Anyway.

May 1, 2019

By Rebecca Klein

Ten years ago, “Daily Show” correspondent Jason Jones sat down to interview a pastor in the classic style of the program ― the correspondent played straight while talking to someone with ridiculous ideas. The interviewee, James Manning, had plenty.

Manning, the pastor at Atlah World Missionary Church in Harlem, was famous for his fiery attacks on then-President Barack Obama ― someone he called a “long-legged mack daddy” who had been “born trash.” The highlight of the interview was Manning telling Jones he thought Obama was the next Hitler.

Another correspondent, Jessica Williams, interviewed Manning a few years later. His latest argument? That Starbucks was flavoring its lattes with human semen. Williams interviewed him one more time after that, three years ago. Manning’s church, which by then had been classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, owed over $1 million in bills and back taxes, according to creditors. A homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth hoped to take over the space.

It felt like poetic justice was coming. But Manning retained control of the building, and what the public knew about his outlandish behavior only scratched the surface.

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