British Priest: Shoplifting by Poor Sometimes OK
LONDON (AP) … The Rev. Tim Jones caused an uproar by telling his congregation that it is sometimes acceptable for desperate people to shoplift — as long as they do it at large national chain stores, rather than small, family businesses.
Jones’ Robin Hood-like sermon drew rebukes Tuesday from fellow clergy, shop owners and police.
From his pulpit at the Church of St. Lawrence in York, about 220 miles (355 kilometers) north of London, Jones said in his sermon Sunday that shoplifting can be justified if a person in real need is not greedy and does not take more than he or she really needs to get by.
Jones told The Associated Press that he stands by his comments. He said he regretted only that the media is focusing on his view on shoplifting rather than the underlying problem he wanted to address.
”The point I’m making is that when we shut down every socially acceptable avenue for people in need, then the only avenue left is the socially unacceptable one,” he said, adding that people are often released from prison without any means of support, leading them back into crime.
”What I’m against is the way society has become ever more comfortable with the people at the very bottom, and blinded to their needs,” he said.
From The Times of London:
Yorkshire vicar advises hard-pressed parishioners to shoplift
The Ten Commandments include a fairly straightforward instruction: Thou shalt not steal. Now a Yorkshire vicar has come up with an interesting interpretation, advising the more hard-pressed of his parishioners to shoplift.
They should do it only from big shops, the Rev Tim Jones said, and it would probably be best if they did not take any more than they needed. Inevitably, some less spiritually enlightened individuals, including North Yorkshire Police, have taken his remarks in entirely the wrong way, assuming that by advising people to shoplift he is in some way encouraging shoplifting.
Father Tim’s remarks came in his Sunday sermon at the Church of St Lawrence, York, when he said that stealing from large national chains was sometimes the best option open to vulnerable people. It was far better for people desperate during the recession to shoplift than to turn to prostitution, mugging or burglary, he said.
“My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift,” he told the congregation. “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.
“I offer the advice with a heavy heart and wish society would recognise that bureaucratic ineptitude and systematic delay have created an invitation and incentive to crime for people struggling to cope.”
Arguing that society had failed the needy, Father Tim, 41, continued: “My advice does not contradict the Bible’s Eighth Commandment because God’s love for the poor and despised outweighs the property rights of the rich. Let my words not be misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift. Rather, this is a call for our society no longer to treat its most vulnerable people with indifference and contempt. Providing inadequate or clumsy social support is monumental, catastrophic folly.”