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December 22, 2009
Anglican priest encourages shoplifting during tough times

The ceiling of the York Minister Gothic cathedral in northern England. Photo: Flickr user NickGarrod

An Anglican parish priest in northern England, Rev. Tim Jones, has caused quite a stir.

Jones suggested in a sermon on Sunday that it is permissible for people facing tough times to shoplift from large national stores.

On the Church of England website for the Diocese of York, Archdeacon Richard Seed rejected the priest’s call to break the law.

Do you agree with Reverend Tim Jones’ comments about shoplifting in desperate situations?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Please be respectful and on-point. Malicious or offensive comments will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned.

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Aside from the fact that God said ‘Don’t’ steal…..It doesn’t leave much room for trusting in God to supply our needs. I trust God to supply.


I’m pretty sure there is a commandment in the Bible that say’s Thou Shall Not Steal. Irregaurdless what kind of a priest, ministry or church leader, or leader of any kind, should not be encouraging stealing. Sure, multi-million dollar corporations are making money off us. They are making money off stocks too. But that shouldn’t encourage us to steal. We become no better than them. You’ll just end up with a guilty concious, even if you don’t get caught. All I can say is WOW, we’ve gone off the deep end. Times are hard, but there are food shelves and shelters around the world.


Anglican church is not the Catholic Church. Two separate entities thanks to King Henry the VIII. The American equivalent would be the Episcopal church.


It’s “ALL” good! Perhaps this is a teachable moment for all mankind! As human beings, we’re all in this together! The North cannot say to the South and East to the West, “I have no need of You!” Think of us as being, “ONE” Global Human Body! Consequently, hunger pains of our stomach, will impact all organs of the physical body! If the stomach dies of starvation, the Heart, Brain, Lungs, etc., will soon follow! Do you follow me? So for the sake of human survival, think of Hunger as being, “OUR”, global issue and we need every world citizen to take a moment to consider the consequences of not getting involved. Remember that, we need each to survive! I need you,you need me, we’re all a part of God’s family. I won’t harm you, by withholding dire necessities of life! In order for ME to stay alive, I need YOU to SURVIVE! So, with the vast resources of this World, I believe that it is God’s Will, for “every” need to be supplied! The next time you glance into a mirror, ask the person you see,”When and what can I do in support of the Cause?” Thanks, JW


Stealing is stealing. It is wrong regardless of what one steals. Our society needs something in place where food is needed. An exchange of work such as bagging groceries for an hour, or sweeping a parking lot, etc. If someone steals once it becomes regular. No doubt, Mr, Jones feels compassion for the poor and those who, perhaps unlike himself, are suffering in this economy. He is however, misguided. Perhaps realizing the problem, he now has the opportunity with others to solve the problem in his parish by doing something rather than talking at the pulpit,


What else can you expect from a Catholic church where the Pope prays to the virgin mary when he suppose to be in direct contact with God and Nuns and priest have abused and raped children under their care. Stealing ? Downsize and help the poor.


The priest should have directed them to a catholic
food bank or offer to sell some of those gold chalices to feed his flock.


Stealing should never be sanctioned but a person must do what a person has to do to keep his family from starving.


This leads to the easy next step of just steal from anyone better off. Easy to justify as they don’t really need it. Here we go back to the dark ages.


After reading this.. I was compelled to watch Les Miserables! Go figure!


It fascinates me that more of the “rightness” of “stealing” from an impersonal and “rich” entity is cited so much here. What does the Gospel itself say about this? There is no need for “relative morality” in the face of starvation! Were I to be hungry and know that I am going to starve to death, then, of course, I may have to steal food just to survive. This is all that this is! Survival. I stated earlier that I am an atheist and, to be honest, it has nothing to do with how I would view the starvation of a fellow human being or even of an animal! Instead, I just follow common sense: eat, live; don’t eat, die! Easy as that. Were you faced with this, you would steal if you HAD to! Aren’t allof us “human” enough, with the empathy of being in the “human condition, to be able without a kajillion words of justification, to say, one must do at least the minimum to survive. Isn’t this enough and isn’t this what Rev. Jones said. Simple truth.


I think that in these times that this is ok.
If someone is actually hungry.


The church leader is polishing the kettle with ash. Stealing from a thief is not a crime but an amendment. Take names and broadcast the foul deed. The problem is the human race has placed money over the right-of-life, yea, even the planet. And, all they have is justification for the ill-advised act – both sides know its wrong.

Stores are using computers, taxes, and fraud to take from the shopper what doesn’t belong to them, and think, they are being sophisticated so no one knows. Computers are being used to instantly update product price. Taxes are being charged to keep government services going. Veiled fraud is being used to justify the reduction.

Computers update prices at the cash register, but the price is given on the item’s back, and the sticker speaks of 40% discount. Rotating and blanket pricing changes don’t match, taxed at the full cost, it’s only a computer error when the store corrects it – want to keep your job? Taxes a necessity of life, but in places food items are not taxed – stores charge taxes anyway – it’s a defect of the cash register. Besides taxes are different between states, counties, municipalities, .., city blocks – and kept that way. Fraud? Companies are being sold and bought all the time, takeovers or buyouts between companies and states, but the company that is buying was thought-up yesterday, filed, and has no capital. It does now, for it has reduced the worker’s paychecks and still selling the inventory at twice the price. A mafia isn’t a mafia when all the stores in the area have agreed upon a single price. Interesting that successful store and company leaders get put in government positions.

Seven million years later, after the first human-like creature walked upright, we’re using hoaxes to cheat each other – what aspect of two monkeys screaming isn’t your part. Stealing to prevent starvation an ill-advised act, but we can justify the arrest for only the bottom person commits the crime and charities a business. Now, it’s interesting that a church leader, when the institution has so many screaming from the grave – including the latest aborted child, takes the high road on stealing. Take names and pass them on, for unless something is done, the slippery slope will prevail – we can justify this act as well.


Stealing, for any reason, is wrong. Even if the law said it was okay in certain situations, it is morally and ethically wrong, which is what every religion, every denomination, every person supposedly representing God preaches and rightfully so. This priest should be ex-communicated. If you can be ex-communicated for divorcing, what more need be said-AMEN


I’m a longtime private security professional who has worked extensively in retail loss prevention, primarily in grocery environments.

I’ve struggled with this issue myself for years and still haven’t come up with an answer that I consider satisfactory.

Fundamentally, I consider the concept of “morals” or “ethics” to be a personal issue of character and integrity.

Growing up, I lived intermittently “on the street” and would occasionally steal in order to satisfy my hunger. Because I grew up in a very “upright” family environment, this behavior eventually began to wear on my sense of right and wrong so I choose to discontinue it. It basically came down to “I’d rather go to bed hungry and honorable than full and a thief”.

The problem with this is that I was still hungry. I eventually hit on the idea that if I did volunteer work with groups that fed the hungry, I might get fed myself. I looked up our local “Food Not Bombs” group and began to volunteer. It worked, and I made connections with people who knew “how the system worked”.

Because of this I discovered that the local mission would not only feed me but they had what amounted to private rooms for people who were homeless but worked graveyard shifts. This allowed me to work, get fed and save enough money to get back on my own two feet.

This sounds all well and good but I know I was only having to take care of myself. I didn’t have a family to feed. I didn’t have any addictions to feed. I came from a good family that instilled effective social skills in me that made it so much easier to find work and gave me a serious “leg up” on my “competition”.

I am also aware that stores regularly work theft into the price of their goods. This means that those who pay for their merchandise are paying more for that merchandise in order to make up for the “shrink” that occurred when people steal. If people didn’t steal, I’d be able to pay less for what I buy. If I payed less for what I buy I might just donate more money to charities that helped those in need. It’s just a big vicious circle.

Fundamentally, I believe that shoplifting isn’t an issue of “right” or “wrong” or “good” and “evil”, but rather one of social justice. Society should be set up in such a way that people aren’t put in situation that might make them feel they need to steal to survive (as apposed to stealing for personal gain and greed).

Just don’t ask me how to implement it ;-)


Since when is it acceptable to steal. Even if the banking industry and the government is corrupt two wrongs do make a right.


Just because bankers are thieves does not make it ok for others to steal. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We shouldn’t stoop to the level of bankers.


The priest should review his ten commandments. Thou shalt not steal.


i truly have sympathy for what the Rev. said. As a minister, one of your jobs is to easy suffering. i don’t knnow if causing civil disturbence would do that. We should teach our brother to fish, not steal.


No He said nothing wrong he just feels Like I do as these Poor people have nothing! I to Believe that these People who have families or have nothing should not be held accountable for this crime or sin because it is their own government that has failed them as if the corruption was taken out of the system then these people can get the help they need and would not have to take what does not belong to them such as a coat to keep them warm or shoes to keep their feet dry, only those who have money that steal just for the fun of getting richer or the joke in it should be put in Jail and these people can be sought out after being caught and looking up their information, You each should think how you would feel if you had no coat or shoes to be in this weather and no food to eat going to bed hungry, each person should think of this and how they would feel going to their warm bed with a full stomach and warm heat to keep their bodies warm, walking about their homes with nothing other then a robe on, yes everyone should think of this deeply, Maybe then will they decide with this person, have you ever gone to bed without eating for a night or maybe 2 or three nights no food, How about wishing just for a sandwich for a meal for the whole day, You know how many people go without, How many children in the Country go without when so many Americans are stealing from the government each day, Maybe from something Placed in a Will and the deceased left it to a Poor Person and You as a Brother or a sister Just decided to hide the WILL or throw it away as you are the next Living relative so You get to keep it, where are the Laws enforced against these People who steel hundreds of thousands of dollars from other people, or those People who have two or three homes in the north and decide to go to Arizona and declare they have nothing other then a home and are able to get on SSI where the state and federal government pay for a Long sickness and then the two or three Homes have other names placed on the deeds next to the deceased now taking over the homes and the states and federal Governments lose all that Money sometimes for one Person a million and a half dollars in care for that Person Just because they did not have health insurance, where are the laws enforced against these People who are white collar workers and owner of companies! No these innocent people who needed some help and were refused should never be held accountable for this and the state should be Paying the Bill for that, Ask Yourself a question did you forget to read a WILL or comply with the Writing of a WILL of a Parent or a sister or a Brother-in-law or a Sister-in-law, are you one of these people, Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone! 80% of all WILL’s are not enforced or read into any court and have not been complied with, These are the real ones that should go to Jail for a Very Long time! No these poor people have not done anything wrong other then inform the store they were taking it because they need it! They needed to get warm!


#15 has great points. However, I’d suggest that a starving person first ASK for help from food pantries or soup kitchenn. If at a store, rather than steal, why not ask to work for a loaf of bread (sweep a floor, clean up trash, etc.) and earn the food.
But if the person must resort to stealing, if and when they are able, they should return to that store and make it right. Explain what they did and offer payment.
With more people becoming the near-slave-class of the wealthiest and powerful in this country, these problems will persist unless we insist on changes. When the top 2% own more than the bottom 90%, something is terribly wrong. The Forbes list of the wealthiest people should be viewed as a hall of shame for their outright greed. Sadly, greed has become acceptable, if not lauded, leaving the underclass to survive however they can.


It is easy to sit on a high horse when you are well off or a authoritrien figure but, when push comes to shove the Reverend is only saying what
any responsible parent should do rather than see
their child starve. I think the people that created these circumstances, the robber barrons
of Wall Street are the real evil people.


lewis is on the right track. Bankers, financial types, and politicians do it all the time–and they aren’t even in need. Who shall cast the first stone?


Maybe he’s right: Catechism of the Catholic Church 2408: The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, …usurping another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one’s disposal and use the property of others


IF Rev. Tim Jones, by saying “… that it is permissible for people facing tough times to shoplift from large national stores” means that is permissible to “steal” items like food, and IF he means food to feed your family for one (1) day, then the Catholic Church concurs! For centuries now, that has been the stance of the Catholic hierarchy and many other faiths. Rather than have your family die of starvation, it is “not a sin” (or a crime) – so long as you are doing it to A. save your family, & B. not “steal” for more than you need.
After all, he did say this was permissible, “rather than commit serious crimes” did he not?
That said, during the depression of 1929, children would run down the street, grab a piece of fruit, a potato, or other food item from the front of stores, or from push carts, and NOT ONE of the venders called the police, nor did any go after them. Those venders knew, that the children & their families would starve otherwise. The kids were looked upon with sympathy & empathy, not as criminals!
Now, IF Rev. Jones means it is OK to steal anything – any time- any type of goods – any amount, because times are hard, I disagree with him. But I don’t believe he is saying that at all!
However, these are hard times, through no fault of anyone but for the theft of greedy bank and stock market VIP’s. Yet those criminals have not had to pay the price of their thievery, and none of them were brought to trial nor have gone to jail for it. IF those who brought this economic debacle upon the whole world were to finally be brought to justice, then maybe, there would be no need to steal to feed oneself and family. But that won’t happen, because these VIPs are immune to justice, and lack all charity. They have no conscience about what they did to cause this economic meltdown, and have used their money to stop anyone in any Government from going after them.
SO, I say to Rev. Jones, don’t give up, no matter how the Anglican Church chastises you. They should be reminded of the history of Christian, Jewish, and other faith teachings on social justice and the rights of the poor.


Publicly condoning theft is wrong. Likewise our failure to give and instead buy ‘stuff’ helps create the capitalistic monster, and prevents us from helping others. If we wanted to go the way of Mr Jones, we would also condone and promote breaking into homes for shelter, because it too, along with food is a basic need.


Tony S, I would like to ask you why “as an atheist” you would have a hard time agreeing with an Anglican Priest? I, too, am an atheist who eschews the us/them camps of the antheist/believers and I see it as counterproductive and juvenile at best. They guy said something reasonable. Were the leader of Iran to say this, I would have agreed with him as well. The guy speaks the truth and you have to make some us/them comment that implies that there is something “wrong” with the Rev. Tim Jones beyond his view. This so saddens me. I won’t apologize for you. However, I will identify with the hurt that such statements inflict.


Rev. Tim Jones is telling people something more practical and honest, given the population of people starving will not be able to post their opinions here today, by giving them an alternative to worse means to solve a tough problem: don’t rob a bank or corner store’s register, don’t prostitute yourselves or, all in all, commit a “lesser” crime, a misdemeanor. Now, we must ask how far have we globally, as a people, come since the days when a person who would steal a loaf of bread to escape starvation, as did the character Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”? The irony of Hugo’s story is that Jean Valjean was fed for many, many years for his crime and the expense of handling him as a prisoner was many thouseands of times more than the price of the loaf of bread. Will we imprison the starving today and bear the cost of imprisonment? Will we, instead, somehow, pay for that loaf of bread directly to the store owner instead? Sounds more civilized to me. However, again I have to ask, have we come any distance since 1862, or the 1500’s, or the times of the historical Jesus, or even at the time of Joseph in Egypt? I would hope so. But, somehow, I don’t think so . . .


As an atheist, it nearly hurts me to absolutely agree with the Mr. Jones. In biblical times, there were small, privately owned shops. Today, we have billion dollar multi-national corporations that make their billions by overcharging us for goods and not paying us a fair share of their profits as workers. They steal from us everyday.

In biblical times, people could find out how much an actual item cost to make. It was no secret how much grapes cost to make wine or grain cost to make bread. Today, things are different. They buy ingredients and materials in bulk, at a fraction of way individuals pay. Items and production methods are much more complex. Retailers hide the amount they pay for items.

In biblical times, the greed of the Walton (Walmart) family would have caused them to have been stoned to death. They are celebrated in corporate circles today.

I see shoplifting by individuals who can’t provide for their families, as a taking back of a bit of what huge corporations take from the workers of this world every single day.

Members of the Walton family take billions from this world every single year. That fact alone means they are stealing from the people of this world by overcharging for items. That fact alone means they are not paying their workers enough. That amount of greed is evil. That kind of evil should be fought against. Shoplifting from them is one way to fight that evil.


With all the food banks and soup kitchens in virtually every city in the U.S. and, I would think, in England and other European countries, I find it extremely irresponsible of Rev. Jones to encourage individuals to steal food. Most people, if they know a person is genuinely needy, will gladly donate food or money if they are able. Hard times are opportunities to test our faith; do we truly believe that our needs will be met, or do we become desperate and allow fear to control our choices? Our experiences are determined by our beliefs. That should be Rev. Jones’s message, not the condoning of criminal behavior that will only bring more difficulty for the individual who carries out the crime.


I believe the priest realizes the trouble people are in. I must say i would rather see someone taking from a store vs having a intruder in my home. Both are wrong but I will take the lesser of two evils.


Stealing is stealing. If you take a dime or dollar it is still the same. If you have a need then ask for help and chances are someone will help. Myself, I hate to ask for help but if push comes to shove I will ask but only for the need…not a want.These are difficult times but not so difficult to where we should have to steal. Rev Tim Jones you are no true man of God. No man of God would tell spmeone to steal no matter how big or small the business is. People like Rev Jones is why this country is as it is today…No one draws a line in the sand and says enough is enough. If you need to eat or feed your family then grow a garden!


I think it is irresponsible to place things and money before people, to use ‘thou shalt not steal’ as a facade to hide greed and lust for power. I pray for the day that mankind stops hording, aiming for power and control through the use of money and possession… and our world transforms to a needs-based economy.


Thou shall not steal! Thou shall not covet thy neighbors’ goods. End of story!


I strongly disagree with Rev. Jones. Churches are supposed to organize communities to deal with these problems (i.e. food pantries). I was taught “ask and ye shall receive” and not “steal what you need.”


in response to Shirley’s post: Too many outspoken Christians today live in a world of “should” and not “what is”. This man is simply acknowledging that there aren’t enough soup kitchens to feed the need and corporations may be lacking in a social contract beyond exploitive labor. After all, America’s working poor is starving, not just the homeless. Jesus never professed the right of business over the need of the poor. Last I checked anyhow. I guess your preacher may say otherwise as that’s the time we live in.


Bravo, Rev. Tim Jones. At a time when large corporations have plunged the world into deep poverty with their greed, have taken the tax dollars of the poor and middle class to prevent their financial failure, only to bounce back and continue to beat people down, we need to start a change in how the populace thinks and acts. Vive le Revolution!


To steal is breaking the 8th commandment of God. Although I can understand Mr. Jones’ point, no person in America should go hungry. No one should have to shoplift to survive. Instead of shoplifting, a person should be able to go to a designated place to get what he needs.


I am disappointed that this so called representative of God has actually encourage people to steal which is in opposition of everything God has ordered and commanded for us to do in order to inherit eternal life which is simply to obey God”s commandments there are only ten and I am shocked that this sinister minister is encourage stealing need I remind him “thou shalt not steal”shame on this minister.


“Thou shalt not steal” or “Thou shalt not covet what is thy neighbor’s”. I believe these commandments are very clear and transcendent as the God who gave them. This means they do not change; especially in light of dire human situations and/or times. While I will admit that the scriptures does show special consideration for those who steals because they are hungry, it by no means excuse or advocates such evil behavior and thus demand reparations. I am appalled to have read so many commentaries which gives consent or approval of the foul advice of a priest who is obviously disillusioned at the hard economic times we are suffering but has also taken his eyes off a Holy and righteous God who is quite able to take care of His own. This is obviously very telling of how decadent western civilization has become; and how unworthy we are to be considered noble of morally upright. One would rightly think that we are a people without a God or a creed.

Why would a priest of Jehovah Jireh (God who provides) advise people to “shoplift”? We know the spirit behind this kind of advocacy is NOT of God. The priest himself confirms this as he admits that stealing is neither good nor harmless. We know that that which is not good is of the devil-NOT OF GOD. Additionally, if stealing is ever excusable, why steal only from “large companies” as advocated by Mr. Jones; why not the “small family businesses”-which Mr. Jones suggest should not be targeted. After all, if one is truly hungry, does it matter if the victim is a large or small company; individual or group; rich, poor or middle-class? As long as there is food to be had or shared, should it not be fitting for the taking if one is truly hungry? Unless, of course, there is a different philosophy operating here behind Mr. Jones’ advocacy.

Mr. Jones, much like many who share is secular worldview, is engaging in class warfare-pit the poor against the wealthy. It is very easy to do in a society that is man-centered where one’s personal or subjective opinion is the ultimate standard of right and wrong as opposed to a God-centered society with a Christian worldview where the Word of God is the ultimate standard by which we judge and live our lives. Objective truth and judgments (principles of God as revealed through Holy Scripture) are often abandoned in exchange for subjective opinions and feelings which are often self referentially incoherent and inconsistent when closely examined. Such a worldview is often exhibited by a society rapidly decaying from the inside out and of which the necessary consequences are theft, deceit, poverty and all manner of corruption which leads to ciaos. It is indicative of a society where achievement is villainized or demonized and the wealthy are made the whipping dog for the inadequacies and economic sufferings of the masses as a disgusting means of some form of social unity. This is the perverse nature and consequence of the secular worldview and its philosophy as it plays upon the fallen nature of man as he takes his eyes off God. Such a philosophy strips man of his will to be enterprising, respectful of his neighbor’s good fortune and help his neighbor in need while it instead look to government or others to do for him what he should do for himself. When government fails him, this philosophy teaches him to blame others and presents a false premise to justify doing wrong.

Perhaps Mr. Jones and those who sanction his error would do well to consider what they can or should do individually and/or corporately to assist those in need rather than advocating further decay of their society. As it is written, “Blessed is the nation who’s God is the Lord”, Psalm 33:12.


where did Rev.Jones get his authority to break the commandment,”thou shalt not steal”? Those who are hungry should:”ask and receive”.


I absolutely agree.

All humans have a morally proper and God given right to Human Needs (which are air, clean water, nutrition – food – and protection from the elements. If any community does not respect this Moral obligation, then a human is right to do what is necessary to stay alive, and the moral wrongness falls on the community. Only fascist leadership would protect profits at the expense of human well-being.


Yes, I agree. If a person is suffering abject or serious poverty, I think it is understandable, if unfortunate, for someone to shoplift under these extreme circumstances. As the ArchBishop noted, it is certainly less damaging (to the individual and/or society) than turning to violent crime, prostitution,etc. The ArchBishop should not be punished for saying something that makes sense from a social justice standpoint.


In capitalistic, or market economies, is not the state obligated to step in to assist the public when the private sector is unable, or unwilling, to supply the necessities of life to those who are negatively affected by the vicissitudes of this form of economic system?
I say yes. Tony Blair has profited enormously in the aftermath of his stints in U.K. government. Is he spending his millions to help the general public out? The Anglican Church owns vast amounts of property in the U.K. Is it helping the destitute and unemployed to survive a “dip” in s market economy?
If someone needs food in a national political system, then the state better damn well provide them with it. It is Gordon Brown’s responsibility to provide the wherewhithal for these folks to survive, including jobs, medical care and a secure personal environment to just get along with the business of day-to-day existence.
If stealing food is the only way the enemployed can survive, sure it’s all right. Can anyone else suggest an alternative? Maybe Christian suffering is the answer for the zealots. An empty stomach takes precedence over hypocritical religious bleating. The Anglicans are supposed to be disciples of Jesus, not of Mammon. Looks to me that the well-fed Anglican hierarchy is looking after its own stomach and to hell with other folks empty bellies.


i agree becuse hunger is a serious problem . taking food from store will encourage the politcian to ssek a soulution for food crisis


I agree with ArchBishop Jones. I know he did not mean any malice against the laws of society. The truth is, we don’t live in a civilized society in that, if we were truly civilized, we would also be humane. Syealing — a form of desperation in the case of stealing food to survive — is not immoral. What is immaoral is not making enough food available so that people aren’t reduced to having to steal. In today’s society we spend much time expounding on morality with little thought as to what we mean — morality. If it is Christ’s morality then all Christians are obliged to see that those who are in need have their needs met. Morality — the ind that exists among those who want to appear to be gfood but in truth are amoral based on their business and political practices that negatively affect the lives of others — then their morality serves mammon and is subject to circumstance. In the U.S.A. there is more than enough food to go around and I am ashamed that we fail miserably to distribute it.


I saw firsthand what the arrival of huge corporate chain stores does to a town; local businesses failed, local incomes declined, locally produced goods disappeared and became unavailable. No good came of it except that lower quality imported products were available for cheaper prices, and all the profits made somehow ended up in the pockets of the shareholders of those companies.

If one sets aside the specifics of the ridiculously complicated legal system and simply looks at this state of affairs from the point of view of simple morality, the basic ground truth of what’s right and wrong, it becomes clear that what the corporations are doing (not all, certainly, but many, and they know who they are) is by far more wrong than something like the theft of food out of necessity. The actions of these corporations should be deemed illegal because what they are doing amounts to government sanctioned theft on a massive global scale.

I need to say I’m all for capitalism; Yay Capitalism! But like most things in life, anything that’s taken too far becomes bad for you. Fundamentally capitalism is a wonderful thing, it spurs competition and produces wealth. But when it goes too far, gets too out of control, it starts to concentrate wealth in a way that is very insidious; it allows those who have control of the wealth to use the power and influence it brings to manipulate the government to pass legislation that makes it easier for them to concentrate even more wealth. Eventually you end up in a situation where capitalism benefits only a few to the great detriment of many. That’s what is happening now…

So I say YES! STEAL ALL YOU CAN FROM THOSE CORPORATIONS! STEAL EVERYTHING YOU CAN, THEN GO BACK AND STEAL SOME MORE! It’s exactly what they’re doing, only they’ve bought the legal right to do so by buying the politicians with their ill-gotten gains.

On a personal note: I was homeless for a few months in my late teens; during that time I frequented a big grocery store to shoplift food and other supplies i couldn’t afford. Eventually I was caught by a young manager who took me to a back office and asked me to empty my pockets. I put up no struggle or argument; I knew I was caught and was willing to accept the consequences. But when the manager saw me pull vitamins, protein bars, floss, and can of cat food (for a stray cat I’d sort of adopted) out of my pockets, something wonderful happened… I watched the progression of emotions play across his face as clearly as if they were printed, and a clear understanding dawned on him. Whether out of sympathy, or perhaps simply an awareness of what I wrote above, he not only let me go, but let me take the items I’d attempted to steal. He said only that since he “hadn’t actually seen me” pocketing the items, he couldn’t prove I took them there; perhaps I had them in my pockets before I came in, he mused…

I didn’t quit shoplifting then, though I never went back in that particular store. Since then however I’ve tried to live my life as much as possible by my own code: I don’t buy anything not made in democratic countries with good human rights records. I buy local when at all humanly possible, even when it costs more. I grow as much of my own food as I can, and get most of the rest from other local growers. And above all, I take an active interest in local, national, and international politics, vote religiously, and write my governmental representatives OFTEN. As you can probably infer, I’ve spent no small amount of time opining on matters of social importance.

Lastly, I know my cheer of “STEAL ALL YOU CAN!” might seem extreme, or childish, or anarchistic, but it seems to me the evil (yes, evil) that’s created the world we live in is deeply entrenched, and nothing short of extreme, radical action on a massive scale will unseat it. For too long too much wealth and power has been tightly clenched in the fists of far too few. And while a few hungry people stealing loaves of bread to feed their families won’t change this, a greater understanding that the cause for the necessity of this crime is a far, far greater, but largely unrecognized, crime.


Extreme Hunger has, within it, a thrust to, possibly and/or potentially:
force Any Person
to, perhaps, do (unwillingly) things
…involving such amoral matters…
as they might wish,
under other–less severe–circumstances:
they would not feel compelled to consider
as necessary
to do…
except when comsidering matters involved in the cold realities of instinctive survival…
and that they remain a Soul still burdened
with a human body…
which often speaks in “internal languages”
as loud–if not louder–than
any aesthetically perceived morality in, even, the recesses of an, otherwise, rationally thinking mind…
which would know the dark of wrong from
the right of light…yet, still, feel
…most of all:
the utter primitive Pain Of Hunger.

No one would have to “preach” anything about
this subject…yet, doing so?
does produce many aspects of a, abysmally deep cavernous, Dilemma…
which must be the subconcious subject, ever involved…when speaking, in concious terminology, of the Human Psyche.

And by “psyche”…
I do refer to the following Definitions:

1. Classical Mythology. a personification of the soul, which in the form of a beautiful girl was loved by Eros.
2. (lowercase) the human soul, spirit, or mind.
3. (lowercase) Psychology, Psychoanalysis. the mental or psychological structure of a person, esp. as a motive force.
4. Neoplatonism. the second emanation of the One, regarded as a universal consciousness and as the animating principle of the world.


The problem with the Reverend’s statement is that many poor and needy people may interpret this as a license to steal anything because they are deprived through no fault of their own and therefore entitled to whatever they can get their hands on.


This can cause havoc.


I was always taught from childhood that shoplifting was stealing. Fortunately, I never had to go hunger eventhough we were not well off. My parents worked hard. I don’t know what I would do if I was that desperate. There are soup kitchens and what about asking someone for a meal. If this behavior is acceptable if we are hungry, where do we draw the line? When does it become unacceptable? What about the small convenience store owner that just gets by can he afford to feed every hungery person that comes along? Is it any less wrong though if we take from a big grocery store? Lots of guestion but what is the answer. Compassion! Compassion for those in need.


The guy is an idiot


Can we pls pls get Martin back?? Or at least Daljit?? Nothing against Edie, but you are very likely to lose audience and perhaps more dangerously, diminish potential to get new viewers, especially when you are gaining such deserved traction. She is not cut out to anchor, to be brutally honest.


and just how does Reverend Tim expect to police those people ONLY shoplifting from large retail stores? What about when they are very hungry and are shoplifting…which IS stealing…from a small ‘Mom and Pop’ store? Is he going to be sitting on the ‘goodguy shoulder’ of the desperate telling them which store is approved? It is never ok to shoplift. He is preaching the beginning of anarchy. When rules which are not ok become ok for some sometimes then the rules break down and there are no rules by which civilization may safely follow. Then barbarians rule. No thanks.


Stealing is wrong; stealing from supermarkets is also illegal and there are victims……find a better way


Tim Jones, Jim Jones sound to similiar. Someone needs to stop him now before he ruins peoples lives. As if….condoning unlawful activities ever helped any recession.


I guess it would also be permissible for the Rev. Tim Jones to steal food from a large National store in order to feed his poor, hungry parishoners!


It’s sad that most people here are agreeing.He is false.The Bible clearly condemns those who steal.He doesn’t know what he is teaching and clearly preaching to blind followers.


Of course stealing bread for 3$ is intolerable but if you are involved in oil business and steal from all of us 2.5 trilion $, that is OK.


i was homeless, from the age of 13 years. it was my habit to go into grocery stores and consume as much food as i discretely could. it wasn’t uncommon for me to actually steal food from a home owners bbq as it was cooking. in addition i would look inside campers, boats, any type of recreation vehicle, often finding food. i would often go into restaurants and truck stops and sit at the table of a customer(s) who’d just finished their meal. what they didn’t consume, i did.
this went on for a number of years. now at the age of 57, i look back at those years, having been brought to my attention by your story, and i tell you it creates in me ABSOLUTE TERROR ATTACKS of insane fear! w/out a doubt the most fearful period of my life and i’m a vietnam vet, NOTHING compares to those years! YES, stealing food from a grocery store is acceptable behavior if your a starving minor. you can’t gain employment as a child, as you well know. i can tell you i was a very frightened child in those years.


i have NEVER received any assistance from the govt. or state in my entire life. never even collected unemployment when i could have. my god, this is the richest country in the world!! as it stands we imprison the children and give the criminal bankers bonuses!! anybody see a problem w/ this process? i just pray to god, that we as a people can somehow, at this late stage of our “de-evolution” get back on a reasonable path!
please dear god, i’m begging!!


When it comes to morality and ethics, it all depends on the context and motivation. If you steal when you know there are viable lawful alternatives to meet your needs, that is wrong. Presuming the priest is an intelligent fellow, and he was addressing instances where no lawful alternatives were available, then I must agree with him. Those who give knee-jerk criticism are the one’s being irresponsible, as well as immoral. If it’s a Jean Valjean situation where the choice is life-endangering starvation or theft of food, the moral answer is clear: protecting human life transcends a minor property interest. The argument of exigent circumstances should also preclude any successful prosecution: of course, in real world law, political power often trumps legal and moral principles. Directing the desperate to target large entities rather than small business if possible, simply recognizes that it is morally preferable to minimize any hardship that might befall others.

San Francisco, CA


I commend Rev. Tim Jones for his courage to say it as it is. People touting righteous beliefs to combat his views have undoubtedly never faced their own or their children’s outright starvation. All living beings will do whatever is in their power to stay alive and anyone criticizing this fact of life is not accepting the way we were created. Of course, this is not a blanket O.K. for shoplifting – it specifically addresses sheer hunger.


I happen to agree with it … the police and the Church are missing the point of what he is saying … People do what they need to to survive. This is human nature. Recognizing this, and recognizing the greater need of human compassion, leads to an acknowledgment that this will (not only needs to happen, but will) happen, and that if it’s going to happen, let the large chains bear some of the burden …! Rev. Tim Jones is just telling it like he sees it. Once again someone is being asked to silence his or her words just because it is disagreeable. Why not examine the words, try to understand, and lead to a larger discussion of what needs to be done and the best way to do it. Why not let this be productive instead of something to shut down and cause us to learn nothing.


It strikes me as reasonable for a priest to weigh the nebulous moral good of a starving man committing a small crime for survival. I mean, we can acknowledge stealing as a crime, while also knowing abject poverty is not.

Just imagine if that iconic starving man was imprisoned, and say escaped multiple times, then was chased for years by a overzealous local police inspector…next thing you know we’re all talking about ‘egalite’ and calling summer ‘Thermidore.’

Much better to focus on the day-to-day lives of the downtrodden, than the ideals which will guide them in some abstracted political opera.


so if your kids is hungry and you ain’t got no money what do you do let them go hungry. You gotta do what you gotta do and if that mean stealing food to feed them, then it is what it is i rather sin then let my kids go hungry.


How sad is it that someone who claims to be a leader in the church places no faith in the ability of the church to help those in such dire need.


I agree with the ArchBishop. This story was best told by Victor Hugo in Les Miserables. Property is theif in the face of poverty. If you’re looking for immorality look to Wall Street.


No, disagree. Companies already pay taxes, one purpose of which is redistribution of wealth. In addition, how will you control shoplifting—who is eligible, how much can they take. It is a dangerous idea for countries who believe in rule of law.


In the early 1970s I served as a priest in the Congolon Mts. of southwest Honduras, pastoring some 30 rural churches on the border with El Salvador; and desolate area where the World Bank documented that half the children born there died before they reached their fifth birthday. Wealthy landowners, many the beneficiaries of land grants dating back to the Viceroy of Spain in the 18th century, rented out small parcels of land to impoverished campesinos at exorbitant rates. I remember speaking to a group of children who were preparing for their First Holy Communion and asking them if it was a sin for a poor widow, whose children were dying of hunger, to steal from a wealthy landowner who had hundreds of acres of land and hundreds of thousands of dollars, but who wouldn’t share with the poor. All of them shook their heads no.

One of the early Fathers of the Christian Church, St. Ambrose, said: ” when one gives to a poor person out of his abundance, he gives not what is his, but what in fact belongs to the poor person.” If another person’s excess “belongs” to the desperately poor person, then it is the poor person’s by right,and no sin is incurred by the the poor person securing it in order to live.


A thief is a thief is a thief !!! Is this man possessed by something, or just smoking the green????


#3 says it well. Who can condemn someone who is destitute or in desperate need and steals food to live. The bible does mention something about “casting the first stone”. Did some not get it! Justice is also meant to have understanding and compassion to be delved out with judgment. Maybe Mr. Jones isn’t advising or condoning people to break the law or to sin maybe he’s trying to practice sound judgment.


I live in a town where the mayor and an underling were guilty of stealing tax money. Within that time period a homeless man stole the poor box in the local church. Several people ( two of them neighbors of the said mayor who retired without jail time quiet comfortably) called for the man to be thrown in jail. They never spoke out about their own neighbor. It is the lack of a basic humanist practice, coupled with the dream that the middle class can become wealthy so we forgive the rich their transgressions, that is destroying the world. In reality the top 5% are making quite sure the middle class stays in their place or is pushed lower by playing this exact type of game. I steal, hey you might be me one day, but watch out for those lower class desperate people they’ll rob you blind. All the while the middle class is sliding down a slippery slope. Look at our children graduating, do you think it is going to be as easy for them to stay middle class as it was for us? The shell game continues…


I’m 18 years old and work very hard for my money. But these days working your ass off isn’t enough. You can work a 12 our shift everyday for a week, half of that goes into your tank and the other half for food. I myself, don’t steal but everytime I go to stop n shop to buy ramon noodles I think about making a great meal for my family…but the only way that could be possible is to steal it. I have to agree with the Tim Jones, because these days it doesn’t matter how hard you work, everything is expensive and if you have kids at home who’s tummy’s are grumbling and they are crying because they are hungry…please steal some food.


In an absolute sense, shoplifting to eat as opposed to prostitution or violent crimes is preferrable. It’s sad that options for so many are so limited, a choice between bad and worse. Instead of denouncing him the police, city and church should begin immediately working together so that those types of choices aren’t necessary.


Will Tim Jones do the thieves time? Instead of encouraging lawless behavior, why doesn’t Mr Jones set up a soup kitchen and food bank at his church? Maybe his flock is not in favor of the unwashed poor invading their place of worship.


Sad. tragedy. But he may be absolutely realistic and even morally correct, in an absolute sense. However, was it necessary to GIVE moral justification? Could he have used this sad truth to push for more real solution?

Oh! I just read and love Comment #1!


The Bible is very clear that to steal because of necessity is understood but when found the their must restore seven fold. Too bad we can’t exact this punishment from the Rothchilds, Rockefellers, Bushes and their Criminal elite buddies to feed the poor.


That’s why they have food banks to feed the hungry. I gueess the reverand never heard of them.


There is a law in nature and in civilizations, that while ‘murder’ is wrong , to kill in self defense is not. Likewise to steal gratuitously would be viewed as a ‘sin’,, but to take from the wealthy when in dire need…is a form of self defense. A line from an Irish song about the Great Famine goes; ” I stole Trevelions corn, so the young might see the morn, now a prison ship lies waiting in the bay”….
We have a well organized way to punish our citizens, let us put as much effort into seeing that all citizens can earn a decent living.


I own and operate a business , recently a person (now known of ill epute) came asking for favors, my beleif is that you never kick a man when he’s down,, so,i had to close before he was finished, upon my rturn several articles were missing,, this bum kicked me as gratitude for helping him,i consider him trasg and not worth killing,yet like giving to charity, killing this scab on society would be an enviourmental improvement , live and let live was my dad’s motto, my thinking is “guilty until proven innocent,,and kill before being killed,”


Rev.Jones has a very good point, I think he’s correct when advising poor and hungry people to steal from super markets rather than commit serious crimes to feed them selves.Its unfortunate that they will probably end up in jail,where ‘the man’ chooses/provides their food and clothes….or is that fortunate?..


Absolutelly not!


Morality related to stealing is realative. We dont kill, but sometimes we have to kill to support life. Stealing from the rich or the expoiiter to survive is not a great idea, but it can not be said to be a great sin. To steal a loaf of bread to feed your child is quite understandable. Lets change the society, so no one will need to steal!


I’m an Anglican who was once headed for the seminary and find myself agreeing with Lewis actually. Indeed, what to we consider the underpinning of our entire global malaise – from climate change and peak oil to global hunger, poverty, poverty-related disease, cultural and environmental degradation, and “warring” to fundamentally be about if it is not AT ITS ROOT a matter of those with greater power and wealth exponentially “stealing” from the Earth and those living a smaller “footprint” that they can possibly imagine for themselves.

Without question, our entire global malaise sits squarely upon the threshold of how we’ve practiced commerce – a left-brain male-based (patriarchal) system designed to exploit resources (natural and cultural), compete and dominate markets, and measure “success” by ever-increasing profit (which means ever-increasing exploitation).

I can get 7th graders to figure out that this is not sustainable – much less “fair” and “loving.”

Long past time to shift to a more right brain feminine (nurturing) context of commerce based upon: (1) how much good we can do, (2) how much we can stay in balance while we do it, and (3) measure success by those first two along with economic “vitality” which is far different than spec marketed growth economics.

Alas, the “bailouts” to perpetuate this existing context, represents little more than “putting lipstick on a pig” … indeed, one which could not resist capitalizing on all that money to continue its multi-million dollar executive compensation packages.

If anyone things “the market” will return to its former levels and increase, I believe they are simply not looking at reality. Truth will eventually rise to the surface, and this is “truth-telling time” par excellence.

Will Durant nailed it when he said, “No nation is conquered from without until it destroys itself from within.”

We either get with it to bring ourselves into balance and truly care for “whole community wellbeing” here locally, nationally and globally … or we are “toast.”


Appropriating property (“stealing”) for a higher purpose (provide food for your children, avoiding prostitution, etc.) has long been an accepted moral behavior in major Christian denominations. If people are shocked to learn this now, it is an indictment on the teaching duty of those same denominations.

Christianity sold itself out to capitalist values a long time ago. Jesus of Nazareth would be revolted to see what it has become.


The ArchBishop of York has asked Mr. Jones to stop making these statements, but so far Mr. Jones has refused this request. In the private sector when my supervisor asks me to stop doing something I stop or risk losing my job. Perhaps the ArchBisho of York should stop asking and start telling.
Also instead of advising people to sin and break the law, Mr. Jones would be serving both God and society much better by organizing food drives and other social assistance activities.


Stealing is unexceptable unless your a banker

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