Father Tim Jones, 41, (on the right) surprised his congregation this month with a novel holiday sermon in which he advised poor people to go out and shoplift. Jones reportedly stopped his sermon at St. Lawrence Church in York to give the divine endorsement for the five-finger discount. The clergy is not amused.
Jones reportedly stated:
“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. I offer the advice with a heavy heart. Let my words not be misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift. . . . The strong temptation is to burgle or rob people – family, friends, neighbours, strangers. Others are tempted towards prostitution, a nightmare world of degradation and abuse for all concerned. Others are tempted towards suicide. Instead, I would rather that they shoplift. The life of the poor in modern Britain is a constant struggle, a minefield of competing opportunities, competing responsibilities, obligations and requirements, a constant effort to achieve the impossible. For many at the bottom of our social ladder, lawful, honest life can sometimes seem to be an apparent impossibility.”” A heavy heart and light finger.
Jones insisted to critics that his encouragement to shoplift does not break the Bible commandment “Thou shalt not steal” because God’s love for the poor outweighs his love for the rich.
“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. I offer the advice with a heavy heart and wish society would recognise that bureaucratic ineptitude and systematic delay has created an invitation and incentive to crime for people struggling to cope.”
The police and the British Retail Consortium and a local MP take a different view. A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: ‘First and foremost, shoplifting is a criminal offence and to justify this course of action under any circumstances is highly irresponsible.”
Jones previously attracted national attention in May 2008 by forcing a shop to stop selling Playboy stationery aimed at youngsters as “cynical and wicked.”
Still, the encouragement to commit a crime is a bit new from the pulpit. The Bible left out that part of the story when Jesus helping himself to a few pieces of bling bling when throwing out the shop keepers from the Temple.
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30 thoughts on “Shopping with Father Jones: Priest Supports Faithful Turning to Five-Finger Discount”
This was a very interesting and thoughtful thread and I found my mind opening to the considered opinions presented. I like a good discussion on religion or politics which is probably why only “A” type personalities accept my dinner party invitations. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a “quiet” dinner party …..
Let us all welcome Commoner back formerly known as Patty C. Welcome back. But please do not make this into a vendetta of personal vengeance. Please save the energy for a good fight, you’ll never know when you will need it…..
If I am wrong about Patty C and Commoner being the same person then please accept my condolences in your similarity in writing prose…..
“I seriously have to choke down laughter when he tells me some things. But I never let it show because this would hurt his feelings very much.”
It might also open up his mind very much. Which is the ethical course for a friend?
Jill, to mock someones religion to their face is rude and unproductive, whether you have a good point or not. For instance, I have a Muslim coworker who likes to chat with me regarding religion. I seriously have to choke down laughter when he tells me some things. But I never let it show because this would hurt his feelings very much. Mah poker face, mah poker poker face. Also, if you want to provoke a Christian, there are much better ways to do it :). That was pretty weak. Christians don’t keep kosher because Jesus said no more chosen jews, no more chosen food. D-uh. happy Christmas y’all. The senate passed the bill w00t!
lottakatz and blouise:
Thoughtful and erudite as usual. Count me of fan of both of you.
“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me,….”
Ah, yes, good ol’ fire and brimstone preaching … not my cup of tea. Has a weird kind of karmic tone to it … sins of the fathers and all that crap.
I was raised Christian but kinda grew out of it. I like the Ten as personal guidelines for living but it seems most people only use the Ten to judge others.
Mespo, I would like to agree with you about that. Unfortunately, the “Rule of Law” is not a moral or societal absolute for me. I respect it in general but I have no illusions that it is anything more than a process (often times misapplied and manipulated) to enforce property rights and maintain some generally acceptable level of societal fairness. Like any contract it is only as good in its writing and execution as the people constructing and administering it.
From a pragmatic point of view I would argue that the law itself in many states builds in a knowledge of its own imperfection, specifically the tenant of jury nullification. The concept of jury nullification is on the books here in Missouri regarding libel. The law as written in other states builds in nullification for this and other categories of court cases.
Even if there are no specific nullification provisions on the books once a jury closes the door of the deliberations room nullification goes on all the time and I’ve seen it happen on a jury I was on. (I hate jury duty.)
With this incident specifically I’m inclined to not condemn the pastor. If he knows his people are stealing or are going to, then instructing them in the least harmful way of doing it seems responsible. That a pastor believes such a sermon is appropriate based on his assessment of his congregation, the world they live in and the most moral way they can deal with it is situational ethics at best (if I can drag an old pop-philosophy term out of the closet); he must be, or think he is, looking at a situation that no longer fits the conventional religious or legal framework. It’s actually a profound shift in thinking for a religious leader IMO.
I can’t address the bigger issue of ” trepidatious seesaw that religion teeters on” regarding gods law because I (as you probably already know) don’t really believe in gods laws, having rejected the notion of a god. Some people that do believe there are laws from god and preach their version of it are wildly self contradictory in their preaching. All religions not only pick and choose their own notion of what that law is and (regarding the bible) while using the same passages interpret what the words actually mean and how it is to be applied differently from their peers. Saying you are filled with a holy spirit and praying for harm to others is not grounded in the rational IMO.
This particular pastor seemed to approach his mission with blinders off and a was willing to offer helpful hints to his parishioners to limit the harm they might/will do. His take on what he apparently sees as his holy mission is at least grounded in the reality he sees around him. I have to give him props for that.
You can’t get away with that so easily. You brought up the passages of leveticus wherein the various abominations such as eating pork and homosexuality are all listed together as equal abominations in the eyes of the lord. You said you were not subject to those laws, I quote:
“I am not forbidden to eat pork. Nor touch a football, although I am not much of a football player really! If you read Leviticus ch.11, it lists the dietary restrictions God gave to the nation of Israel. The dietary laws included prohibitions against eating pork, shrimp, shellfish and many types of seafood, most insects, scavenger birds, and various other animals. The dietary rules were never intended to apply to anyone other than the Israelites.” That is why it is perfectly legitimate to ask about homosexuality applying only to the Israelites. So does it?
I also see that you clearly allow exceptions to things as you see fit. You say that parts of the NT supersede the OT. I don’t care if you don’t want to answer these problems, but they are problems in your reasoning.
I don’t see how homosexuality has anything to do with theft or eating pork, which is what we were discussing. I am not going to get into a huge religious arguement with a random person online…
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