• Priest sanctions shoplifting by those in need

    Date: 01.26.10 | by Judge Tom.

    In December, 2009, Reverend Tim Jones of England told his congregation that sometimes shoplifting is okay. As long as you don’t take more than you need and you do it at large chain stores rather than small family businesses, it’s acceptable, he preached.

    He later explained that “when we shut down every socially acceptable avenue for people in need, then the only avenue left is the socially unacceptable one.” He pointed out that often times people are released from prison without any means of support, leading them back into crime.

    Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

    The Church of England responded by stating it does not condone shoplifting. The reverand’s Archbishop called him in for a discussion of the matter. Local police pointed out that it’s a crime under any circumstances. The British Retail Consortium also rejected the priest’s comments. Reverend Jones stands by his sermon regrettting only that the media is more concerned about shoplifting than addressing the underlying problem.

    This raises an interesting dilemna, doesn’t it? Say a homeless person has gone without food for several days. He steals a loaf of bread or a carton of milk. Should he be charged with petty theft or shoplifting? Do you see a difference between this situation and a Friday night beer run? Is one more justified than the other? Why? Are you surprised that a priest would advocate breaking the law?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • Suse
      Wed, 02 Jun 2010 at 05:43

      Actually, sad to say, but you have to do what you have to do in a situation like this, and always give back when able, there is nothing more important than human life, and to sit on the sidelines and blame a starving man for doing something that he know’s is wrong but is the only thing that will keep him alive, shame on them! Shame on them for not buying the food for him, shame on them for putting a higher value on some measley grain than on a “brother’s soul”. Stealing is yes wrong, but remember that all sin is the same, and you are lucky that you have never had to be pushed to the point of stealing, I am sorry but stealing for need is far different than stealing for want.
      Thanks, Suse, for your thoughts.