Priest's Message to Poor: Shoplift

English clergyman advises congregation to steal--in moderation

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Father Tim Jones, an English vicar, has instructed his congregation to shoplift if they're hard up. In a sermon that the Daily Mail reports has British police and politicians in a frenzy, Father Jones explained that his "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."

The vicar claims  he doesn't want his message "misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift," but merely thinks shoplifting a better option than prostitution or burglary. The assurance has done little to placate those infuriated by the exhortation.

  • Holiday Spirit "Nothing says Merry Christmas," quips blogger Piedpatter, "like a nativity sermon extolling the virtues of pilfering over prostitution."Let's be clear, God is still angry about the whoring, mugging, and burglarizing."
  • This Isn't Even Practical "My worry," writes The Good Atheist, "is that this douchebag is forgetting that shoplifting isn't without consequence, and his bad advice could lead his flock astray. To you and me, Father Jones is really only an expert in nonsense, but to his parishoners he is a man with a direct line to God, and this weighty position comes with a few responsibilities." What happens when this advice lands one of his parishioners in jail?
  • Ditto That "Presumably," Andy Dawson muses, "[Father Jones will] be straight down the police station to help secure the release of any of his parishioners who find the cold hand of John Law on their shoulder when they get caught half-inching a packet of Paxo stuffing from Asda later in the week."
  • And Yet Folks Are Angry "Inevitably," writes another online contributor dryly, "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."
  • Time Out--This Is Serious Scriptural Hogwash Noel Bagwell is furious about Father Jones's method of squaring his advice with the Eighth Commandment: "The very idea that God loves some people more than others based on their wealth is absurd, offensive and without support in Scripture. Class warfare, a prominent feature of socialism, is on the rise in the West. This is the sort of thing we should condemn with superlative vitriol."
  • Wait for the Followup, urges ManWiddicombe: "Apparently on Christmas Day the Bishop of Bath and Wells is going to describe infant cannibalism as being 'acceptable in the eyes of god'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.