Did I steal?

Hi all! I just walked out to my mailbox an found a book sitting on top (not inside) my mailbox. A quick glance at the table of contents made it quite clear that it was full of lies against the Church, almost certainly produced by Jehova’s Witnesses. I then looked around my street and saw that on top of most mailboxes there was one of these tracts. I figured I couldn’t allow these lies to spread, so I went around the neighborhood and gathered 14 books in all, with the intention of recycling them. Once I was back home, however, it occurred to me that this could arguable count as stealing, and that since we are not to do sin that good may come of it, I actually acted wrongly. At the moment of doing it, I was rather thinking that since the items were not in the mailboxes, and since no one had asked for them, so that they were, one might argue, just lying around the neighborhoods, I was merely gathering up some books rather than taking something that at that point actually belonged to someone. Afterwards I was not so sure.

With the exception of perhaps one or two houses, I don’t remember where specifically I picked up the books, so returning most of them is not really an option. I could, however, return those that I do remember about, if that were the right thing to do. Of course, having already removed them, it doesn’t seem clear to me that I should take it upon myself to redistribute those lies. I haven’t yet disposed of the books and am wondering what I should do with them.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this, especially if you are trained in moral theology.

Picking up litter is stealing?

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Taking off my deacon hat and putting on my lawyer hat. Ok, that’s better.

You may have actually done the persons who placed the books there a favor. See, the mailboxes are not the property of the home owners. They are property of the Federal Government, as a matter of law. Placing anything in or on the mailbox is in fact a federal offense (a crime).

As a practical matter, the government doesn’t really enforce this law, but . . .

I don’t think you did anything wrong. As the poster above said, its “litter”, to be polite.

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They were giving them away–fortunately you received them and know what to do. They don’t have control over what people do with the information they give away.

When I see the Book of Mormon in hotel rooms, I take it home and recycle it. I’m under the impression that is there for people and they would be more than happy if someone took the Book of Mormon home with them. Again, they have no control over what said person does with the book they give away.

You did the right thing

If they had postage on them and were mailed, taken them is theft of mail, a federal crime in the US.

Do you think any neighbor really would have wanted the book? You see, if they would have discarded/recycled it themselves, they probably just as well would have consented to, or at least not minded, your seizure of the books.

On the other hand, if they would have wanted to read the book, or use it to light the barbecue, or whatever, what you did may have constituted theft.

Another question is whether it is a sin, since it wasn’t premeditated, and you didn’t know it was a sin when you did it. If it is a sin, I would call it venial. Repent, confess, and try not to do it again.

At least that’s my opinion.

I think it highly unlikely the postman would have put the books “on top” of the mailboxes if they had been legitimately mailed with postage. I also suspect they would have been “packaged” rather than just left as “books” on the mailboxes. So, no worries.

JWs are getting lazy. They used to walk all the way up the driveway to the door. Now, just the mailbox?

Cmon people a little effort would be nice!:wink:

And if a JW came here asking about disposing of Catholic literature in this way, would your answers be the same?

You had every right to throw away the book left on YOUR mailbox unread. You had NO RIGHT to set yourself up as moral arbiter and censor of your neighbors and decide which materials and literature THEY were allowed access to.

If you were my neighbor and I found out that you took something off of my mailbox you’d “have some explaining to do”.

It was VERY disrespectful.


We are on a spiritual battlefield, friend. There is only one Truth, and that is Catholicism. We fighting for souls and there is no room for political correctness. Of course we wouldn’t want anyone throwing away Catholic literature, but the two things are not equal. Catholic literature is correct, JW literature is not.

It is still against the law to take stuff from other people’s property. In my state you can’t take signs for political candidates just because you don’t like them. If a company leaves advertising circulars on your doorsteps another company can’t come and remove them.

I’m not your friend.

Disrespecting your neighbors and taking materials from them is not “political correctness” it is stealing from and insulting them.

Who are YOU to decide what I get to read? Where does that level of arrogance and presumption come from? Because it sure isn’t the example of Jesus!

Your beliefs are exactly the same as those in Islamic countries who would stone apostates and “infidels”. Is that really the company you want to be associated with?

There is such a thing as the Golden Rule

My advice is to look to your own soul before dictating to others what they can and can’t read.

Would you feel the same way about racist leaflets in a black neighborhood? Or Nazi Propaganda in the Jewish Ghettos?

Sometimes the best thing we can do for a neighbor is help them throw away the trash.:wink:

Porn would be handled the same way. And your eyes cannot unsee what you see.

I support throwing them away!

Again, Catholicism is correct, Islam is not. And slowing the spread of lies is not the same thing as stoning someone to death, nor is it “disrespecting” them, it is having concern for their souls. We are called to be our brothers’ keeper. And if knowing that the Catholic Church has the fullness of Truth and acting accordingly is arrogant, then I guess I’m arrogant.

And you may not be my friend, but I am yours.

True enough. The end never justifies the means.

No you are not my friend. You are an individual whose heart, perhaps, is in the right place but who advocates poorly thought policies born of arrogance and bigotry, that have in the past caused untold misery, violence and death.

You do realize that we Catholics have to share this planet with about 5.5 Billion people who aren’t Catholic right? Even Catholic Americans have to share their country with more than 250 Million non-Catholics. If you decide that you’re going to interfere with the rights and choices of those 5.5 Billion people arbitrarily because YOU believe you are right how do you think they will treat you?

Attitudes such as yours resulted in the death of about a quarter of the population of Europe during the 30 Year’s War. Despite the fact that they were “right”, Catholic soldiers died in their multitudes just like the Protestant ones. Catholic women were raped and Catholic children were slaughtered just like the Protestant ones their rectitude notwithstanding. Catholic town and villages were burned and sacked even though they were “right” and the Protestant ones were wrong, and of course, just as sacked and burnt as the Catholic ones.

In England, religious differences resulted in the burning and beheadings of 300 or so people on each side of the issue with the Catholic ashes looking much the same as the ashes of their erring Protestant brethren. Things got so bad that the woman responsible for trying to coerce her religion on England is still, almost 500 years later, known as “Bloody Mary”, despite being “right”.

Closer to our time, refusal to respect their neighbor’s religious choices resulted in deaths of hundreds of thousands of Indians and the displacement of millions more in 1947 when India was portioned. And Iraq is still in the throes of a bloody civil war between two varieties of the same religion that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands over the past decade. And all those millions, and hundreds of thousands are “wrong”. Are they any less dead?

Thank God we’ve never had anything like that level of strife here in the US because we respect each others’ right to worship God in our way no matter how “wrong” it is. The world you would create would undo all that an ultimately lead us back into strife and conflict because you don’t seem to be able to mind your own business.

No thanks.

Yes. I wouldn’t be happy about it but I don’t have the right to determine what other people can read or see. Its none of my business.

First of all, if you’re doing something “for” someone that they didn’t ask you to do, there’s a pretty good chance you’re doing it “to” them, (for your own purposes) not “for” them.

Second of all, you’ve decided that YOU ALONE have the ability and right to censor your neighbors reading material? From whence comes that right?

And again, who decides what’s “porn”? You? Why do you get to decide for your neighbors what constitutes “porn”? Why can’t they decide for themselves? Do you not think they are capable of such a decision? Do you not trust them to decide “rightly”?

Then in Georgia you would be a thief, subject to a misdemeanor charge of “theft by taking” for taking property that did not belong to you. What the OP did is no different from stealing a package that UPS left on my front porch because he doesn’t “agree” with the contents (or what he “thinks” are the contents) of the package.

It was a despicable act that was profoundly insulting and disrespectful to his nieghbors.

How do YOU spread the Gospel Bill?

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