Check out my recent column in the March edition of the Baptist Studies Bulletin on some Baptists fighting the good fight against predatory or “payday” lenders in states like Texas.
Here’s a snippet:
Abortion, homosexuality and church-state separation. These are all issues on which Baptists have made their diverse opinions loudly known to the public. But predatory lending is definitely not an issue that many associate with Baptists.
Yet, Baptists in several states have been fighting against the wealthy and powerful multi-billion dollar predatory lending industry in recent years.
At a regional meeting of the New Baptist Covenant in Oklahoma City in 2009, participants learned about the dangers and growing popularity of payday loans, especially among the working poor. Participants heard from Stephen Reeves, public policy director for the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, who offered the example of a military veteran who took out a $4,000 loan against his truck in order to help his daughter. Unable to pay off the loan in full, the veteran was charged a $1,200 penalty fee per month. “He could pay $1,200 per month forever and never pay off that loan,” according to Reeves.
Usury – specifically usury that is legal – is a rather important issue of fundamental fairness and justice that simply has not received the amount of attention and active emphasis that it is owed. Let’s change that.