Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford castigated a local clergy group today because he doesn’t think enough churches participated in his sackcloth and ashes rally back in April. He also criticized churches for espousing prosperity theology, a valid point IMO, but pretty funny coming from the man who accessorized his sackcloth with a Rolex and designer shoes.
“I really think he’s called the church to repentance,” said the Rev. Mike McLemore, president of the [Metro-Birmingham Evangelical Ministers Association] clergy group and director of the Birmingham Baptist Association, after the mayor’s speech. “He’s serious about prayer.”
Set aside the questionable propriety of an elected official preaching sermons on the taxpayers’ dime, and note the irony of Larry Langford calling others to repent their desire to get rich and accumulate material goods.
In 2002, about the same time he was running for county commission, Langford had accumulated about $70,000 in credit card debts and department store bills. Most of that debt was for clothes, he told the SEC.
“I’m a kind of a clothes person,” Langford said. “I like clothes.”
In other settings, Langford has rhetorically attacked parents who buy their children expensive tennis shoes and designer clothes they can’t afford.
“We pay $120 for a pair of sneakers for a 12-year-old child. Are you crazy?” Langford said in his inaugural speech. “You are paying $60 and $80 for blue jeans with the names of somebody tattooed on your children’s butt you don’t even know. When was the last time Tommy Hilfiger was at your house?”
Indeed, Langford wouldn’t be caught dead wearing Tommy Hilfiger or shopping at the mall. When Langford needed clothes, he went to Shaia’s the upscale clothing store for men in Homewood among other places.
There, according to his testimony, he bought at least $40,000 worth of clothing, all on store credit. By the summer of 2002, his store account was close to going to collections.
He had other debts, too, including two home equity lines, credit cards and car notes.
Last November, Birmingham News metro columnist John Archibald discovered that at least one mortgage Langford had was disproportionate to the value of his Fairfield home. Probate court records showed that in 2000, Langford had received a $300,000 mortgage on his home. In 1999, the same house had been appraised at $96,430. The loan from The Bank — now Superior Bank — was for three years. If he ever paid it, there is no record.
These debts are in addition to his expensive taste in cars, including a Cadillac Escalade and a Chevrolet Corvette. Langford doesn’t hide his spending on cars, and he even bragged about it last year to a group of car dealers angry about his 100 percent increase in business license fees.
“Nobody can buy more cars than I buy,” he told the car dealers in a committee meeting last December. “The only difference between men and boys are the size of their toys, and you all sell the toys that I like.” [emphasis added]
Anyway, Larry wants the city to have three prayer rallies a year, and he wants the churches to take time away from ministering to their communities to set up his grandstanding opportunities. I bet he’s already picked out his next ensemble. A designer hair shirt, anyone?