The perilous state of religion in England

Two views of moral behavior, one from the source, and one from an English divine:

God:  Thou shalt not steal.  (Exodus 20:15)

A priest in England:  It is far better for people desperate during the recession to shoplift than turn to ‘prostitution, mugging or burglary’.

It is true that, under Jewish law, Jews in extremis are allowed to violate God’s rules.  The doctrine, known as “pikuach nefesh,” literally translates as “saving of human life.”  During the Holocaust, for example, rabbis explicitly told fellow Jews that they could violate kosher laws rather than starve to death.  Significantly, however, pikuach nefesh is not a free pass for immorality.  Instead, it must apply on a case by case basis, and the person to whom it applies must indeed be facing a mortal threat.

When an Anglican priest throws out wholesale advice to parishioners that it’s okay to go out and shoplift, and then justifies that advice it by saying that “God’s love for the poor outweighs his love for the rich,” he is not practicing pikuach nefesh.  He is practicing redistribution of wealth.

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    “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.”
    This is the worst imitation of Robin Hood – ever! The priest should not be wearing a collar only cuffs – handcuffs!

  • Ymarsakar

    I forward the proposal that Congress can only set the maximum half decade budget for any government service, but the fund for that service shall only come from tax paying voters that have explicitly devoted their taxes to the preferred government service of their choice: whether that be national health care or military defense.
    That way the Left can redistribute money all they want. They can distribute their own to the nation.

  • Mike Devx

    Book says of the Anglican priest who sermonized, “It’s OK to shoplift because God loves you if you’re poor”,
    > He is practicing redistribution of wealth.

    I have to disagree, Book: It is *worse* than redistribution of wealth.

    There’s a reason no one advocates vigiliantism, posses, and mob hangings, as a substitute for police action and courts of law.   No matter how much we may despise those in power, and detest the laws they pass, and hunger for a change of the party in power, we all tend to respect the rule of law.   The rule of law is clear on thievery as well: You steal, you get caught, you pay the price.  What this so-called bishop is advocating is the end of the rule of law, and its replacement by might makes right.

    One could say that being poor elevates one to the state of sacredness, and that the act of shoplifting becomes civil disobedience.  But every serious advocate of civil disobedience recognizes that PART of civil disobedience is being arrested and paying the price for the civil disobedience.  If the penalty for shoplifting *already* is arrest and a relatively minor punishment, then how can it possibly be framed as civil disobedience?  It cannot.

    If shoplifting is OK, then so is any robbery.  I’ll take your wallet, thank you very much.  And that’s a  nice watch you have, why, thank you very much!  Think nothing of it.  Your wife has very nice earrings, too, and my lady love will enjoy them quite a lot.  Thank you, thank you.

  • Mike Devx

    Can you imagine this bishop as Jesus, teaching the parable of the coins?  The father gave his three sons several talents (coins), and told them to return in a year.  One son buried them, and returned with them to his father, who told him he’d wasted opportunity and had done poorly.  Another son invested wisely and sold and traded, and returned three-fold what has father had given them, and he was blessed.
    But according to the Bishop, far more blessed was the third son, who returned with a wagonful of talents.  “Father, for three months I waylaid mothers, grandmothers, boys and little girls hurrying to the shops, and took from them their talents, and conserved them.  Then I started a group of like-minded young “entrepreneurs”, taking part in what Obama would call “investing”, and we spread out across the city and took all the talents we could.  And his Father the Bishop blessed him most of all, saying not only did you thrive the most, my son, but you also sent mothers, grandmothers, boys and little girls to the hospital with blackened eyes, split lips, broken skulls and shattered kneecaps, to participate in government mandated universal health care.  Truly you are most blessed of all.


    Why not throw in a Merry Christmas while you lifting a wallet, just to show one’s holiday spirit.

  • Gringo

    Since the Anglican priest justifies stealing, thieves should concentrate on taking goods and money from Anglican priests and churches. I wonder what the priest’s reaction would be after he got mugged a few times.  I don’t know if the UK  has the old saw we have in the US: a conservative is a liberals who has been mugged.

  • MacG

    Perhaps his frame of reference has to do with the Torah where it teaches (if I am not mistaken)the punishment/restitution is less  for a man who steals to feed his family than the guy who steals just because he is a thug.  There are degrees of punishment to meet the crime.  That said the quote does seem to give permssion of sorts like parents that say “Don’t have sex before you get married but if you do, use a condom, we’ll get them for you”.  It’s wrong but we get it if you break the rule. It’s kind of a wink-wink nudge-nudge approach to morality.

  • excathedra

    Dotty clerics in the Church of England are practically a sacred tradition, as that always semi-incoherent but once formidable institution implodes.
    Commenters on another site had good ideas: why don’t the reverend’s poor steal from the Church? Or why doesn’t he rouse his congregation to help them?
    An idiot in a collar. And not rare.

  • Ymarsakar

    <B>What this so-called bishop is advocating is the end of the rule of law, and its replacement by might makes right.</b>
    At the end, we who focus on physical violence and its preparation will always have more might than they.

  • Ymarsakar

    <B>It’s wrong but we get it if you break the rule.</b>
    People aren’t shop lifting food to feed their families.

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