British clergy told to take off collars when off-duty for safety

  • Updated: October 7, 2007 - 8:59 PM

LONDON - Catholic and Anglican clergy should remove their clerical collars while off-duty to avoid being singled out for attack, a British church safety group said Sunday.

Criminals often target clergymen because they are perceived to have money. The stiff, white neck pieces -- nicknamed "dog collars" -- can also attract those bearing a "grudge against God," said Nick Tolson, the head of National Churchwatch.

"They've got to be aware that when they're on their own, they're at high risk," Tolson said. "What we're saying is that when clergy are off duty -- say when they're shopping at [the supermarket] -- they should slip off the dog collar and put it in their pocket."

Britain does not routinely monitor violence against clergy. But a 2001 University of London study found that seven in 10 clergy had experienced some form of violence between 1997 and 1999, Tolson said.

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