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A 21st century Robin Hood?

December 23, 2009 - Steve Murch
So what does it say when a priest says it's all right to break one of the Ten Commandments? In case you missed it, Rev. Tim Jones told his congregation that it's sometimes acceptable for desperate people to shoplift, and here's the caveat — if they do it at large national chain stores, not the family businesses. Jones is a Church of England priest in northern England.

Needless to say, it didn't take long for his superior, and the police to say Jones doesn't have it right.

"The Church of England does not advise anyone to shoplift, or break the law in any way," Archdeacon Richard Seed said on his Web site. "Father Tim Jones is raising important issues about the difficulties people face when benefits are not forthcoming, but shoplifting is not the way to overcome these difficulties. There are many organizations and charities working with people in need, and the Citizens' Advice Bureau is a good first place to call.”

According to the Associated Press, “Jones said in his sermon Sunday that shoplifting can be justified if a person in real need is not greedy and does not take more than he or she really needs to get by.”

"The point we are most concerned about is that shoplifting is simply not a blameless, victimless crime," Eleanor Course, a spokeswoman for Seed told the AP. "We want to make clear that it simply doesn't help people. And the last thing a desperate person wants is to be caught for shoplifting, so we feel this advice is very unwise."

The priest stands by his words.

Others, including the British Retail Consortium and North Yorkshire Police think otherwise. Spokespersons for both, understandably, condemned Jones' stance.

Well, Jones' stance sounds a bit like Robin Hood who inhabited Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, which is not that far south of North Yorkshire where the priest's church is located.


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