Day of Prayer in Sackcloth and Ashes in Birmingham, Alabama

Larry Langford, the mayor of the city of Birmingham, Alabama, has declared today, Friday April 25th, 2008 as a "day of prayer in sackcloth and ashes" in response to the city's high homicide rates:

Birmingham Weekly reported two weeks ago that the mayor purchased 2,000 burlap sacks for ministers and other community leaders to wear at a Plan 10/30 summit.
To many Christians, sackcloth and ashes symbolize humility and repentance, but the mayor’s decree came dressed with the usual accoutrements - printed on fine, invitation-stock paper and wrapped in a bright silver folder, adorned by the magic hat logo Langford commissioned for the city last year.

In the decree, Langford said that Birmingham’s crime problem “pails” (sic) in comparison to the biblical City of Nineveh.

The proclamation tells the Bible story of Jonah and the city of Nineveh: “Whereas Chapter 3, verse 5 & 6, of the Book of Jonah, Old Testament states, that the people of Nineveh believe God and proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest of them even to the least of them,” the resolution reads.

In the proclamation, the mayor puts himself parallel with the King of Nineveh (Jonah 3:7) who, wearing sackcloth and ashes, joined his citizens in prayer.

Link | Article at The Birmingham News - Thanks Charles K!

(Photo: acnatta [Flickr] - Thanks Andre!)

Another highly-placed government leader using their post to promote religious acts.

A man of faith should be happy in his community, glad that he lives in a tolerant country and proud to hold public position. He should not, however, feel that the captive audience of those he serves should be subjected to religious proclamations, especially ones *sent out on the city's letterhead.*

Government money, power and position used for religious causes, hmm? It's always impressive to see how bold people can be in violating the American constitution.
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Well, that's surely going to cut down on the murder rate. It does my heart good to see a public official using his influence to find and implement practical solutions to difficult problems. I bet when all of the murders in the city see all those priests wearing these sackcloths, they will put down their knives, guns, hacksaws, sharpened tooth brushes and drain fluid because they will finally understand that the city would like them to stop murdering.
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Thanks for using my photo of the mayor; it's seems to be getting a lot of use right now!

I think some of you may be interested in seeing what some folks thought about the proclamation, including myself.

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Andre - I got the photo from Wikipedia, and in my haste, I didn't investigate the origin of the photo (which I usually do).

I've added the attributions to the post. Thank you for adding that to the Creative Commons!
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Isn't it nice to see the fruit the Civil Rights Movement has borne four decades later?

Their education levels "pail" in comparison to other states, out-of-control homicide rates, blurring of the lines between the functions of church and state, and epidemic -- yet completely preventable -- health problems (obesity and its related issues).

Way to capitalize on your opportunities, Birmingham!
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It doesn't get much scarier than this. If he were doing this through his church it would be ok, but doing it as mayor is stepping over the line dividing church and state.

Furthermore, wouldn't it be more practical to actually do something about the problem? I seriously doubt that murderers are going to be swayed by a bunch of Bible thumpers in sackcloth.
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