Pharyngula

Langford’s praying even harder now

You all may recall the Holy Joe mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, who had a great plan to deal with urban crime: he bought 2,000 burlap bags so community leaders could dress in sackcloth and ashes and pray. Unfortunately, the federal authorities stuck to the old fashioned scheme of dressing sensibly and pursuing the evidence, and have now arrested Larry Langford on multiple counts of corruption. Curses! If only the Feds had gone with biblical policing scheme!

(via Techskeptic)

Comments

  1. #1 H.H.
    December 1, 2008

    Aren’t there any honest pious frauds these days?

  2. #2 Glen Davidson
    December 1, 2008

    Sounds like they can be converted into prison garb for good ol’ Larry.

    Showing divine providence as, of course, any outcome whatsoever does.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  3. #3 spgreenlaw
    December 1, 2008

    Kooky and corrupt just seem to go together so well.

  4. #4 Steve_C
    December 1, 2008

    We should have a scale or something on all of these guys… we all can vote on the likely hood that they’ll be arrested or mixed up in a scandal.

    This guy I would of given an 8 on a scale from 1-10.

  5. #5 The Science Pundit
    December 1, 2008

    These are the kinds of stories that really make me smile. That burlap and ashes video was just creepy. Now I’m chuckling.

  6. #6 Jello
    December 1, 2008

    Southern Evangelical Christianity – its a cult and a pyramid scheme all rolled into one, and there being elected to public office! It’s going to be a long century.

  7. #7 Alex
    December 1, 2008

    Heh heh heh.

  8. #8 Holbach
    December 1, 2008

    He went through all that phony crap and his god turned on him? So when he sits in jail maybe he’ll have a horse blanket to remind him of being a horses’ ass.

  9. #9 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 1, 2008

    Cries of religious persecution in 3… 2… 1…

  10. #10 Ian
    December 1, 2008

    The videos are just sad. They’re wearing their burlap sacks over top of their suits!

    As I understand the symbolism they’re referencing, dressing in rags is supposed to show that you’re so upset about something that you can’t be bothered to dress yourself properly. In our culture, a suit symbolizes dispassionate professionalism. By wearing one over the other, the way they are dressed is a symbol of hypocrisy; they are making a show of emotional concern for crime, but underneath they have a different agenda.

  11. #11 Sastra
    December 1, 2008

    From the prayer rally:

    Above the crowd, two wide white banners hung from the ceiling. Each read, “A world without Jesus is a mess waiting to happen – Mayor Larry P. Langford.”

    Uh huh. Here’s “a mess waiting to happen”:

    1.) Explain to people that God condemns all sin equally — the Eyes of Perfection make no distinction between murder, and stealing a cookie from the cookie jar. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God.

    2.) Teach people that forgiveness of sins is not based on good works, but on accepting the Blood Atonement of Jesus. All you have to do is admit that God is Master and Lord in true humility, accept Jesus’ sacrifice — and your mistakes are washed away and paid for, no matter what they are.

    3.) Inform people that God’s purpose in putting us on earth is to learn that we cannot avoid sin through self-will or self-discipline. We will fail.

    4.) Encourage people to realize that the greater the sin, the greater the appreciation for God’s mercy will be. God cares far more for the heartfelt repentance of someone who has fallen to the depths, than he does for shallow praise coming from someone who thinks they have “been good.” The size of the crime doesn’t matter to God — but the amount of the repentance does.

  12. #12 Jello
    December 1, 2008

    Ian @10

    Its possible thay avoided going nude under the sacks to avoid indecent exposure charges. Though they could have worn old cloths rather then the suits like you said.

  13. #13 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 1, 2008

    awesome

  14. #14 Rey Fox
    December 1, 2008

    I don’t see why this hasn’t become patently obvious to people: When a politician starts praying in public, he’s hiding something. The more ostentatious the gesture, the more likely it is that he’s promoting cronies or embezzling funds or has a computer full of child pornography.

    Anyone in Georgia know what skeletons are in that Pray For Rain Perdue guy’s closet?

  15. #15 Longtime Lurker
    December 1, 2008

    Maybe the department of corrections can save money by feeding him miraculous loaves and fishes.

  16. #16 Olga
    December 1, 2008

    That Rolex watch, which he could not part with while wearing sackcloth, is now on the list of bribes… Well, he can find some comfort in thinking that his prayer (to help fight crime in Birmingham) has worked, to some extent.

  17. #17 strangest brew
    December 1, 2008

    Religion is just a form of Mafia…always has been…it is corrupt in spirit… deed and intent…and the main members are aiding and abetting for all their might before jebus shows up and buggers up their scams…Cretins…

    Was there not a parable about jebus losing it with a bunch of shysters in some temple or other?..
    Of course that does not apply to present day sunbeams obviously…tis a pick ‘n ‘mix extravaganza…take what you want tis the lord’s will…yea right…!

  18. #18 Steven
    December 1, 2008

    I live in the Birmingham area, so I’m glad to see something finally happen to this guy. He’s been nothing but an embarrassment to the entire state. Although, in Birmingham’s defense, nobody here has taken him seriously in a very long time.

  19. #19 firemancarl
    December 1, 2008

    arrested Larry Langford on multiple counts of corrution.

    Ah, another fundagelical Rep. down the tubes. I guess I really can have a Merry Christmas now!

  20. #20 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 1, 2008

    they are making a show of emotional concern for crime, but underneath they have a different agenda.

    Making their garb 100% correct.

  21. #21 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 1, 2008

    Was there not a parable about jebus losing it with a bunch of shysters in some temple or other?

    No doubt that was just a metaphor for being upset with gays or gun-control proponents or commie pinko peaceniks.

  22. #22 Ranson
    December 1, 2008

    @ Steven #18

    If no one takes him seriously, how does he get elected?

  23. #23 Steven
    December 1, 2008

    Well, he didn’t fully expose his complete insanity until after he was elected. He was always a bit of a corrupt religious nut, which of course is a requirement for election here. But when he started to run the city (further) into the ground with his shenanigans, even the other religious nuts started to get fed up with him.

  24. #24 Nentuaby
    December 1, 2008

    #10Posted by: Ian | December 1, 2008 2:08 PM

    The videos are just sad. They’re wearing their burlap sacks over top of their suits!

    As I understand the symbolism they’re referencing, dressing in rags is supposed to show that you’re so upset about something that you can’t be bothered to dress yourself properly. In our culture, a suit symbolizes dispassionate professionalism. By wearing one over the other, the way they are dressed is a symbol of hypocrisy; they are making a show of emotional concern for crime, but underneath they have a different agenda.

    I’m not sure if his particular denomination holds this belief, but there’s also generally an element to the sack-cloth and ashes bit that sack cloth is rough. IE, freaking uncomfortable; mortification of the flesh is as much part of the ritual as the symbolism of wearing poor clothing.

    Thus wearing anything between the sack and your skin is missing at least one of the points of the ritual.

  25. #25 Umilik
    December 1, 2008

    “Sounds like they can be converted into prison garb for good ol’ Larry”

    Yep, might be the perfect garb for when big Bubba’s gonna make him his bitch…

    But seriously, it does make one feel proud to live in a country where sanity is not a prerequisite for getting elected to public office..

  26. #26 Jello
    December 1, 2008

    @25 Umilik

    I’ve always thought someone had to be just slightly demented to run for public office.

  27. #27 Venger
    December 1, 2008

    I always figured that anyone who actually wanted to run for public office is the last person who should be allowed to do the job. They are either nuts and/or corrupt or so idealistic that they aren’t seeing the real world.

  28. #28 Pierce R. Butler
    December 1, 2008

    You start messing around with those burlap dealers, and it’s all downhill from there.

    Burlap: a gateway to the harder stuff!

    Wait till the feds do some labwork on the ashes…

  29. #29 Robert
    December 1, 2008

    Heh – check the comments from the staff:

    Langford’s office said the arrest was “no surprise.”

    “We are glad the Mayor will finally have his day in court. As members of his team, we stand behind him and look forward to the day when we can return the focus to the important issues before the city,” Langford’s chief of staff, Deborah Vance-Bowie, said in a statement.

    Translation: “We knew he was a crooked bastard, and it’s amazing the cops took so long to catch him. We’re happy he’s finally going in front of a judge, and we just want to get back to trying our best to run this city in a competent manner. As for standing behind him – how else can we stab him in the back?”

  30. #30 Plex Flexico
    December 1, 2008

    So he prayed for an end to corruption….
    ….
    …and his prayer was answered?
    Thy Lord truly does work in mysterious ways, Mr. Mayor. Truly he does.

    I hope this doesn’t count as evidence for the efficacy of prayer. I’d really hate to have to start giving up my Sunday mornings!

  31. #31 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 1, 2008

    Those Republican scandals are getting predictable. All after the same pattern. At least the Democrats are found with a freezer full of cold cash…

    As I understand the symbolism they’re referencing, dressing in rags is supposed to show that you’re so upset about something that you can’t be bothered to dress yourself properly.

    Not at all. Dressing in sackcloth is supposed to be painful because it’s self-punishment for your sins. It’s supposed to show serious repentance, and not just to the audience. You’re supposed to wear the sack on your bare skin so it hurts.

    (Can you tell I’m upset about Langford’s hypocrisy?)

  32. #32 SC
    December 1, 2008

    Not at all. Dressing in sackcloth is supposed to be painful because it’s self-punishment for your sins. It’s supposed to show serious repentance, and not just to the audience. You’re supposed to wear the sack on your bare skin so it hurts.

    Yeah, the Rolex and expensive shoes mitigate the pain somwhat.

    Just looked back at my Bible, and confirmed that in the original story the people of Nineveh were ordered to starve the “beasts” and to dress them in sackcloth, too. ‘Cause of course the freakin’ animals were sinful. The Bible is some sick shit.

  33. #33 Pierce R. Butler
    December 1, 2008

    At least the 2,000 most distinguished dignitaries of Birmingham weren’t caught doing something so unChristian as burlapping!

  34. #34 SC
    December 1, 2008

    At least the 2,000 most distinguished dignitaries of Birmingham weren’t caught doing something so unChristian as burlapping!

    But to have seen them onstage ricky-chowing down! ;)

  35. #35 Robert
    December 1, 2008

    Re #19 and #31 – Langford is a Democrat, not a Republican. Yes, that’s right – the Democrats have crazy religious nuts too, and they are also corrupt.

  36. #36 James
    December 2, 2008

    I live in Birmingham and when I heard Langford had finally been arrested I went and bought myself a beer. Even with his arrest though our troubles aren’t over. The people who elected him are still around. During the run up to the election I heard Langford supporters tell opponents that they weren’t Christians if they voted against him.

  37. #37 SoMG
    December 2, 2008

    How about trial by immersion? If he floats, it means the water is rejecting him because he’s guilty. If he sinks and drowns, he was innocent.

  38. #38 Jeanette
    December 2, 2008

    Hilarious. I wonder if he’s wishing he’d prayed for something other than for god to put a stop to crime in Birmingham.

  39. #39 Flex
    December 3, 2008

    Venger wrote, “I always figured that anyone who actually wanted to run for public office is the last person who should be allowed to do the job. They are either nuts and/or corrupt or so idealistic that they aren’t seeing the real world.”

    Well, one of the reasons I ran for public office (and won) during the last election cycle was to prevent a nut from winning. Serving on the board of trustees is a part time position so I don’t need to give up my more lucrative day job. But it’s also a position which reviews all the decisions of the full-time officers of the township, and can argue to reverse them if necessary. Not that the municipality I live in has poor officers, but it is part of my position to ensure that the decisions they make are in the best interest of the citizens of the township. I’d also like to think that I’m rational and not corrupt.

    In addition, there are lots of positions in local government which are appointed. If anyone is interesting in improving their local government (and removing the people who are nuts, corrupt or single-issue fanatics), contact them and volunteer! Many committees meet only one night a month, which is not a significant investment in your time.

    The best way to ensure rational government is for the rational community to volunteer to serve.

    P.s. While I quoted Venger, I’m not trying to attack his viewpoint or change his mind. It’s a pretty common viewpoint, and not without some evidence (as shown by this blog post) to support it.

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