Catholic and Anglican vicars should remove their clerical collars while off-duty to avoid being singled out for attack, a church safety group said Sunday.
Criminals often target clergymen because they are perceived to have money. The stiff white neck pieces - nicknamed "dog collars," also can attract those bearing a "grudge against God," said Nick Tolson, who heads 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, and more than one in 10 reported being assaulted, according to Tolson.