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Priest Tells Poor To Shoplift 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the 9-out-of-10-ain't-bad dept.
Father Tim Jones has said to hell with the 8th commandment and advised the poor in his church to shoplift if they can't afford to feed their families. He said, "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 recognize that bureaucratic ineptitude and systematic delay has created an invitation and incentive to crime for people struggling to cope." Of course, church leaders, business owners, and the police strongly disagree with the father's moral relativism.

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Priest Tells Poor To Shoplift

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  • huh? (Score:3, Informative)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday December 22, 2009 @01:04PM (#30525988) Homepage
    I don't think that qualifies as moral relativism; the guy seems to be basically saying stealing is wrong, but not as wrong as letting your family starve. Of course slashdot is a very strongly capital L Libertarian viewpoint so I'm sure if anyone else responds to this story they'll be a lot more disapproving.
    • by natehoy (1608657)

      If "x is wrong, but isn't as wrong as y" doesn't qualify as moral relativism, I'm not sure what would, precisely.

      Still, overall, stealing food for your family is wrong, but I agree that it is not as wrong as letting them starve.

      But, of course, Father Jones might want to consider taking his example from Bishop Myriel, if he's going to tell his flock to take their example from Jean Valjean.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Moral relativism is closer to saying that there is no universal "rigtht thing" to do or any universal "wrong thing" to do. Looking at the situation moraly reltavistcally, one might say that the large company isn't wrong for trying to prevent shoplifting, Society isn't wrong for not providing means for the individual to provide for themselves, and the individual stealing isn't wrong for stealing. There is no potential for Justice in that situation. No ideal solution to the conflict of interests.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rob the Bold (788862)

        If "x is wrong, but isn't as wrong as y" doesn't qualify as moral relativism, I'm not sure what would, precisely.

        I don't think that term means what you think it means. It's not saying that, morally speaking, X is "relatively" worse than Y. It's more along the lines of saying that there isn't an absolute morality. For instance, Person A might disagree with Person B as to whether action X is moral or not: it's not Person A's "relative" judgment about X vs. Y. There's a Wikipedia entry on Moral Relativism [wikipedia.org].

        • by 10Neon (932006)
          Mod parent up- this is the correct description of moral relativism.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly, one may or may not agree, but it is not relativism.

      It is clearly a hierarchy. And duh... Feeding your children is more important than not stealing.
      Relativism would be the implication that the hierarchy itself was relative. Relativism would be something like: We believe random acts of murder are worse than random acts of theft in America, but in XXX things are different.

      Relativism removes any universal ethical thinking and leave us only with historical/cultural morals.

      I'd hope all of the obvious t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      TFS seems very badly confused about what "moral relativism" actually means.

      Saying "X is always wrong." is a trivial example of moral absolutism. However, saying "X is wrong unless condition Y holds." is precisely as absolute as the first example. There is absolutely nothing about moral absolutism that requires the absolute ethical rules to be of low complexity. Nor is there anything forbidding absolutist ethics from acknowledging competing interests(so long as there is an absolute rule about how to choos
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      If you followed the New Testament, the stealing is wrong, but you're forgiven for it. However, I can't agree with this guy. Maybe it's different in his city, but in mine we have bread lines who will feed anyone who shows up; I know one woman who isn't poor but goes to the bread line because she likes the food. And there are several charity food pantries that will keep a family fed easily.

      Plus, there are "food stamps" (now called "LINK") and WIC. The problem with America's poor isn't lack of food, it's lack

      • Food for drugs (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        The only people I know who go hungry are those who trade their food for drugs.

        What should people with chronic medical conditions do so that they don't have to choose between food and the medication that keeps them alive?

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          I wasn't talking about medical use of drugs, I was talking about people who sell their food stamps to get high. I've met folks like these, have yet to meet anyone who goes hungry because of the cost of medicine.

          • by ArsonSmith (13997)

            especially when most medication is purchaseable for between $8 and $12 dollars for a 30 day supply from evil companies like Walmart.

            • by tepples (727027)

              especially when most medication is purchaseable for between $8 and $12 dollars for a 30 day supply from evil companies like Walmart.

              Unless the drug has been out for less than 13 years. A patent lasts 20 years, of which roughly the first seven are spent gaining approval from a national drug regulator.

    • After all, it's not like they even earned it. And if they say stealing is okay, why not let them live by the consequences?

      While we're at it, why not kidnap this priest and see what sort of money you can get for him on eBay.

      Seriously, someone should take this moron aside and tell him two wrongs don't make a right.

  • the problem with comunism is that if you trust everybody to take just what they need, you will be eaten alive. Nature gives the same opportunities to all species, and we as humans have a choice to take what we need, or to take what we can. So now we proudly wear our mp3 players, cellphones and so on, claiming we need them.
    I believe the priest is right, but naive. What we need is real education so that people to stop being selfish idiots, not to make it ok for the poor to steal from the rich.

  • I think he's trying to echo the truism (read: not a command) found in Proverbs 6:30-31:
    Men do not despise a thief if he steals
    To satisfy himself when he is hungry;
    But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold;
    He must give all the substance of his house.

    As someone who embraces liberty religiously (by being a Christian) as well as politically (by leaning hard toward Libertarianism) and philosophically (by being both), I don't condemn the necessities thief either, although in my experience people steal alc

  • England, home of Jonathan Swift, who also had a modest proposal...

    Sometimes orators makes shocking or controversial statements to make a point.

    From TFA:

    "In his sermon Sunday Jones ... added that his advocacy of shoplifting was a 'grim indictment' of society and a plea for help for the most vulnerable."

    • by un1xl0ser (575642)

      Agreed, although Jonathan Swift was Irish. I'm American, so close enough as far as I am concerned.

      • My bad, and my apologies to the Land of Erin. Swift was indeed Irish.

        My point is that if this priest had gotten up on Sunday and said,"We should be better to the poor," I doubt even the parishioners would have noticed. But since he said, "You know what? Frack 'em, go take what you need from the greedy buggers and the Lord will let it slide..." and suddenly we're talking about it half a world away...

        • My point is that if this priest had gotten up on Sunday and said,"We should be better to the poor," I doubt even the parishioners would have noticed. But since he said, "You know what? Frack 'em, go take what you need from the greedy buggers and the Lord will let it slide..." and suddenly we're talking about it half a world away...

          Ah, for want of a mod point. +1 Insightful.

  • Germany used to have a paragraph in it's laws ("Mundraub") specifically indemnifying under certain circumstances people who steal for the purpose of immediately preventing starvation.
    In the context of a modern social system where novdoy has to starve any more this paragraph was scrapped. For countries with a backwards or otherwise lacking social system it would make perfect sense. I think there is a human duty to help those at immediate risk of death as long as it doesn't put the helper or his family at sim

  • The reason I disagree with the priest condoning shoplifting is that it cements a stereotype that the poor can't be trusted.

    I know this story is based in York, but here in the US, the poor couldn't even follow his advice. The problem stems from corporate food chains normally do not locate their stores within urban areas ( I know they don't where I live ). If it weren't for "mom-n-pop" grocery stores, the residents would have to travel to the suburbs to get groceries.

    Community leaders are trying to entice n

    • by geekoid (135745)

      When I was poor I stole to survive. I went on to get good work and make decent money. I will be the first to say I couldn't be trusted if you left your food delivery truck unlocked at a grocery store.

      So of course they can't be trusted.

      However I would say the any community where a hungry family is reduced to stealing or starving is already broken.

  • What about "though shalt not steal" does he not understand?

    • by f8l_0e (775982)

      What about "though shalt not steal" does he not understand?

      Deserves to be beaten?! What part of “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” do YOU not understand?

      • Beating people is more fun. Also that particular incident involved someone relatively harmless being sentenced to death by hurling rocks continuously. Jews....
    • by Surt (22457)

      Probably the part that was mistranslated in the king james bible.

  • Of course, church leaders, business owners, and the police strongly disagree with the father's moral relativism.

    Why "of course"? Church leaders, and even business owners and governments all encourage rampant over-breeding among the lower classes, along with a healthy dose of ignorance and reliance upon so-called moral "authorities" like this priest.

    More poor people means more churchgoers, more recipients of government "services", and more "consumers". The negative externalities of overpopulation, crime, unemployment and needless warfare are passed on to the rest of society.

    In modern civilization, when shocking numb

  • You can get a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs at Walmart for $2.50. A typical beggar could earn that in less than an hour of begging in front of the store. Here in the US, we have subsidized farms, put entire villages out of business, and monopolized entire agricultural sectors so that food can be extremely cheap. Even the poorest of the poor can afford a meal if they are willing to work or beg a little.

    Furthermore, anything small enough to shop-lift is most likely not going to be nutritious.

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer

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