This anti-gay church might get turned into a shelter for LGBT youth. Hell yes.

To say the Atlah Church in Harlem, New York isn't gay-friendly is probably an understatement.

All GIFs via "The Daily Show"/Comedy Central.


The church has made a name for itself thanks to its ridiculously offensive marquee signage and bombastic homophobe pastor, James David Manning, who, by the way, really loves a good conspiracy theory...

...I mean, he really loves a good conspiracy theory.

So ... anyway...

The church recently found itself in a financial pickle because, yes, even churches have to pay their bills (though Manning disagrees).

As of January 2016, the church owed more than $1 million to creditors, mostly over unpaid water and sewage bills, Manning had told DNA Info last month. That little bit of chunk change means the church is teetering on the edge of foreclosure.

The pastor argued his church shouldn't have to ante up because it's a tax-exempt organization, which, as the courts and "The Daily Show's" Jessica Williams put it in a segment this week, is complete "bulls**t."

Learning that a church promoting so much bigotry could soon close up shop is pretty great. But learning about the group that hopes to take its place is truly the icing on the cake.

If the church forecloses, it will be auctioned off. And the Ali Forney Center, which helps homeless LGBT youth, hopes to move in.

You might call that ultimate karma.

The nonprofit, which claims to be the largest agency in the country dedicated to aiding homeless LGBT youth, helps about 1,400 young people each year through its housing facilities and a drop-in center. Ali Forney has multiple initiatives that benefit struggling LGBT youth, like education and job prep, transitional housing services, and programs specified to help transgender kids in need.

The center is championing a worthy cause: Young LGBT people are affected far more than their straight cisgender peers when it comes to homelessness, and family rejection and discrimination are the culprits. One study found up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

It's that sort of statistic that helped inspire Ali Forney to launch a fundraiser to raise $200,000 in order to buy the church building and make it into a housing facility for kids.

"The biggest reason our youths are driven from their homes is because of homophobic and transphobic religious beliefs of their parents," Carl Siciliano, the Ali Forney Center's founder and executive director, explained in a statement. "Because of this, it has been horrifying for us to have our youths exposed to Manning's messages inciting hatred and violence against our community."

"It has meant the world to us that so many Harlem residents have stood up to support our young people, and are now urging us to provide urgently needed care at the site of so much hatred."

Of course, Williams made sure to point how amazing it would be if the Ali Forney Center ended up moving in.

In her interview with Siciliano during the segment, she wanted to get all the facts straight...


Check out the whole "Daily Show" segment below:

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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This article originally appeared on 03.19.15


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