Reverend Tim Jones of the Church of St. Lawrence in York, United Kingdom, says poor people who are desperate for cash should go ahead and steal.
He told his congregation that stealing was preferable to burglary, robbery or prostitution. And he said it would not break the eighth commandment -- "Thou shalt not steal," (Exodus 20:15) because, "It's permissible for those who are in desperate situations to take food that they might not starve," Jones said.
Jones advised people not to shoplift from small family businesses, but from large national chains, which can better absorb the costs of theft.
"The point I'm making is that when we shut down every socially acceptable avenue for people in need, then the only avenue left is the socially unacceptable one," he explained, adding that people are often released from prison without any means of support, leading them back into crime.
"What I'm against is the way society has become ever more comfortable with the people at the very bottom, and blinded to their needs," he said.
The Church of England said it does not advise anyone to shoplift or break the law in any way.