Full Faith and Credit: Christian Groups Unite Against Predatory Lending

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And payday lenders, who tend to base themselves near the working poor, are ubiquitous. “In Missouri, we have more payday lenders than Walmart, Starbucks and McDonald’s combined,” Ms. Fleming said.

The office released a version of its proposed rules over a year ago, in March 2015. According to Ms. Fleming, there has been “massive engagement” from the faith community.

When Ms. Fleming’s organization informally surveyed Christians in Missouri, “a majority of every ideological group supported the interest rate cap,” she said. “But conservative Republicans supported them even more than moderate Republicans. “

Ms. Fleming’s theory is that conservative Republicans are more likely to be conservative Christians, and therefore more aware of the Bible’s condemnation of usury – which is explicit in the Old Testament, and often inferred from the New Testament. . She noted that in Roman Catholic tradition usury is believed to violate the commandment “you shall not kill” because its depleting effects can deprive people of life.

Galen Carey, vice president of government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents about 40 Protestant denominations, said many evangelical churches have created funds to help poor worshipers who may be tempted by short-term loans and high interest. Now, he said, they are working specifically to counter the payday loan industry.

“There are a few instances where churches have set up interest-free or low-interest loans that people can take out and repay, and then they are reused to help other people,” Mr. Carey said. “When people are in a community, there is a certain responsibility for programs like this to work well enough. “

Jason Carrier, pastor of Southgate Baptist Church, who like Mr. Drewery’s church in Springfield, Ohio, is trying to help his church start a “grace-based loan” program that the faithful can use in place of payday loan. The program would direct all fees charged above principal to the borrower’s savings accounts, not into the pockets of the lenders.

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