Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Priest says it is OK for poor to shoplift

This could be filed under news of the weird, but one we wanted to share here. A priest in England says that it is OK for the poor to shoplift, but it can only be from big chain stores.

From the UK's Independent, writer Katherine Bowen reports on this strange Christmas time message.

Father Tim Jones, parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda in York, broke off from the traditional Nativity story to say that sometimes shoplifting was the only option for poor families and certainly better than "prostitution, mugging or burglary" as a way of making money.

Mr Jones, who previously worked as a prison chaplain, told his congregation: "My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift. I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither. I would ask that they do not steal from small, family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices. I would ask them not to take any more than they need, for any longer than they need."

He said he offered the advice "with a heavy heart", and wished society would recognise that bureaucratic ineptitude and systemic delay had created an "invitation and incentive to crime for people struggling to cope".

Mr Jones cited an example of an ex-prisoner who had received less than £100, including a crisis loan, in the six weeks since his release.

He said his advice did not contradict the Bible's eighth commandment, not to steal, saying God's love for the poor and despised outweighed the property rights of the rich.

He added: "Let my words not be misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift. "The observation that shoplifting is the best option that some people are left with is a grim indictment of who we are.

"Rather, this is a call for our society no longer to treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt."

We are reminded of Reverend Lovejoy from the TV show The Simpsons' advice on the topic. He says that it's ok to steal bread if you are hungry, but please don't put any jelly on it. For Father Jones, he is clearly forcing his own views into scripture, and not letting scripture form his worldview.


Norman said...

When the Ten Comandments tell us

Do Not Steal

What kind of a clergy is this man??

Anonymous said...

I saw this on the news today and just read it on the internet. The word "weird" was used. It's not weird ......... it's insane what he said. His statement could be used as a "crutch" by those who choose not to find other solutions. His remarks were iresponsible and out of line

Jason said...

I think this scripture describes what is happening here.

(Colossians 2:8) Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry YOU off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ;

How important it is then that we follow the Apostle John's advice.

(1 John 4:1) Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.

Anonymous said...

I hope this story would open the hearts of people to give to the poor; for it is written in the Bible, when we give to the poor we are lending to GOD,

Anonymous said...

As a well taught Catholic[Grammer, High & University] I can tell you that stealing is sometimes not sinful. Determinants are based on the amount taken & need. If a person is starving & steals enough food to sustain his life there is no sin. If he steals more than that it is a sin. That,s it.

Josh said...

This is a bunch of garbage. As if Christianity was not already lukewarm enough, now it is ok to break the commandments and sin if life is hard on us?

There is no faith in the Lord to provide in this concept.

God's love of the poor will never outweight any of His commandments. He commands those with more to share, but never do you read anything even close to this Robin Hood mentality in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

yeah,ok the bible says not to steal but what do you do when in here in america your pastors do it and are protected by those in high office with no one to answer to.from your own church.

Anonymous said...


carlb said...

this man (no clergy) is colluding to commit crime and if some one does what he says. he should be held responsible for abetting said crime. boy i will tell you people are getting loonier every day! sad.

Anonymous said...


Incognitio said...

Wow 1 he should step down as a clergyman and become Robin Hood from the hood. Thou shalt not steal hello. Recently a story came out where a man was robbing a store owner and the store ower gave him food and what he had in the til a mere 20.00. The guy was so taken back that when he got on his feet, he sent the man 30.00 and the cost of the groceries. He said thanks for saving my life. All most have to do is just ask and many will help.

Oliver said...

And would not any of you take what is needed to stay alive or feed your kids even if you had to Steal it I think not. Before you go putting someone down people you should FIRST look at them and see what or why there doing it. Does it make it right no not at all but sometimes it's needed and if I had to steal food to put it on my kids plate you can beat your rich butts would to. But I am sure most of you people that have read about this have never been put in a place were you have needed to do this so until that takes place shut up as I have been there and done that in the past.

Oliver Walker

Anonymous said...

This priest has more common sense than 99.99% of all Christian ministers out there.

He's not advocating shoplifting people. He's just saying it's the lesser of a myriad of evils.

And you know what? He is correct.

John Médaille said...

The priest is right. "Necessity makes all things common," according to St. Thomas Aquinas, certainly an orthodox moral authority within the Christian tradition.