Jesus in Bread LineJesus Fails the Means Test

This version is taken from a facsimile in Jack Putterill's autobiography, Thaxted Quest for Social Justice. A slightly different text of the leaflet appears in Stanley Evans' The Social Hope of the Christian Church.

Fr. Putterill writes, "After the first world war the general economic position grew steadily worse and the army of unemployed reached a million then rose to two and nearly three millions. These poor people were to be granted some relief and the amount was to be determined by a means test committee, constituted from the old Guardians Committee -- so I found myself a member of the Means Test Committee. . . I found it to be one of the most revealing experiences of my life and as I began to realise how the poor and unemployed were treated my hatred of the system was increased."

"Fr. Chas. Marson, the great Catholic and Socialist Priest, drew up a Means Test form in the name of Jesus Christ. This was republished by two of his old friends, Fr. Paul Stacey and Fr. P. E. T. Widrington. Copies were available from me as Editor of Catholic Crusader. . . It was quite clear from this leaflet that those who devised the Means Test would not have lifted a finger to stop the Crucifixion had they been alive and present on Calvary. Scribes and Pharisees were still with us in the 'hungry thirties'".

And, disguised as "New Democrats" or "New Labour", they're still at it seventy years later. -- Ted M.

Case No. 15078
Surname: Jesus Address: No fixed address Church District: Christ's Church
Case sent by: The Local Brewer Time at Present Address: One Day Birthplace: Bethlehem
Previous address and time at each: Egypt in early youth, Nazareth, Capernaum, Jerusalem, and a number of other places.Westminster and St. Paul's
Assistance asked for: Room and Lodging during Preaching and Physicking Tour.

Childrens' School
Name and Address
of Present or
last employer
Time out of
Cause of
Leaving Employ
When Last in
Receipt of
Full Wages
Weekly Income
Full Work
Weekly Income
Vagrant Preacher,
and Socialist.
Desire to better
Mankind and
free them.
A.D. 33
18s 6pNone

No. of Rooms Occupied: None Club or Benefit Society: None Parish: None
Weekly Rent: No rent, but small poll tax paid by sale of fish. Trade society:
Relief from Charitable Persons: Martha, Mary, etc., Board and Lodging.
Rent due (if any}: None What near Relations: Widowed Mother, said not to be able to assist. Relief from Club or Benefit Society: None
Amount of Pawn Tickets: 10s 5p, for tools. Relations able to assist: Applicant claims to be brother to all men, but no respectable person allows the claim. Relief from Relations: Human brethren, occasional relief.
Other Debts: Owes himself to Mankind, and to God. Total from all Sources: About 5s 6p weekly.

Statement of* JESUS CHRIST

Showing (1) how the family are at present obtaining a living, and (2) in what manner applicant thinks they can be permanently benefited, etc.

Applicant stated that he lived almost entirely upon alms, principally obtained from women. He tramped about with a number of low fellows who sometimes did odd jobs, fishing and the like. They had been accused, he admitted, of stealing an ass's foal, and had the reputation of being infidels, and violators of law and order. When asked how the Society could benefit him, applicant asked for a little temporary relief while he was propagating his economic and moral views. He asked to be introduced to the other applicants, but was told that this was against Charity Organisation Society rules.

The following should be the order of reporting information received relative to the case from: (1) Relieving Officer; (2) Previous Addresses; (3) Present and Former Employers; (4) References; (5) Clergy and District Visitors; (6) Childrens' Schoolmaster; (7) School Board Visitor and other Persons; (8) Inquiry Officer's Report.

Heads of Information Dated and Numbered as Above.
Date No Report: The relieving officer said that he had no knowledge of the applicant, except that he heard once of him from his (officer's) grandmother. The people living at applicant's previous address also knew nothing about him, except his name; one man had seen his picture, and another said that he heard he wrote a book about hell. Applicant's former employers were all dead, and modern employers "had no need of such hands" (referring no doubt to certain marks applicant had accidentally received, for the committee noticed that his hands were bleeding). The references were wholly unsatisfactory and inadequate.
July 3
July 4
July 5
July 6
July 7 5 The Right Reverend Caiaphas and the Reverend Pharisees and the Church-workers and Scribes all said that the applicant, though a powerful preacher, had a devilish spirit and radically unsound and dangerous views. He set class against class, discouraged thrift, spoke with blasphemous familiarity with God, called the rich and the rulers names, etc. They begged the Society not to assist him in any way.
July 18 8 Inquiry Officer thought, that though applicant looked a good fellow and strong, the heat of the weather had affected his brain. He talked a great deal about his Father and his mansions, but his father was said to be dead, and applicant could not tell where the mansions were, but told officer they were "within." He asked officer to give up Charity Organisation Society work and to follow him, but refused to guarantee any stipend. Applicant appeared to believe in a Social Revolution, which should make the last first and the first last, but officer refused to waste time upon him.
July 28 Applicant appeared before the committee and was rebuked for his utter want of thrift, industry, temperance, and for the bad company he kept. He was offered a set of carpenter's tools by a lady if he would return to carpentry, but the Society refused to do anything for him, except recommend him to go to the infirmary, lunatic department, or else to live a more business-like and practical life.

N.B. All Reports are to be considered as confidential.

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