On Tuesday Mayor Larry Langford told city councilors that he ordered 2,000 burlap sacks for community leaders to wear at the next Plan 10/30 summit. Donning harsh sackcloth is a recurring Bible motif that indicates the wearer'92s humility, mourning, and repentance.
'93When cities in the early part of '85 the world'92s history, when they had gotten so far from God'97
doing idol worship and all kinds of crazy stuff we'92re even doing today'97that community came to its senses,'94 said Langford '93The Bible tells us that they put on sackcloth and ashes on their face and prayed, and God heard their prayer.'94
'93So I have ordered, this morning, 2000 burlap bags,'94 he said.
City Council meetings are rarely short on religious fervor. Local ministers come to request city funding for their faith-based initiatives, and they often use fiery language to garner support from the crowd.
Though the Council is occasionally dismissive of these funding requests, they sometimes invite religious leaders to praise their work. Last week Langford honored Bishop Calvin Woods. This week the Mayor and Council welcomed newly ordained Archbishop Joseph Marino. The Mayor honored the Birmingham native by presenting him with the first of the 2000 sack cloths.
A city official told Birmingham Weekly that the burlap sacks are being paid for with private funds, not taxpayer money
If anyone feels that Langford uses the council dais like a pulpit, the mayor doesn'92t seem concerned.
'93The Constitution of the United States calls for a separation of church and state'97it never said anything about a separation of church from state,'94 Langford said during the council meeting. '93You don'92t wanna pray? Fine. Just get your evil self away from me.'94
The date of the burlap sack summit is yet to be announced. It will be the fourth of a series of community initiatives collectively called Plan 10/30. The meetings are part of the Mayor'92s plan to discourage crime and inspire local youths and community leaders to participate in Birmingham'92s growth and revitalization.
'93I got a call from someone saying I need to quit mentioning God'92s name so much, and so I politely asked him what in hell did they want?" Langford said. "Because there must be something in hell we want because a lot of us are working so hard to get there.'94
A few relevant Bible verses ...
O my people, put on sackcloth
and roll in ashes;
mourn with bitter wailing
as for an only son,
for suddenly the destroyer
will come upon us.
In the streets they wear sackcloth;
on the roofs and in the public squares
they all wail,
prostrate with weeping.