Priest sanctions shoplifting by those in need
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.
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?