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Video: Faith Leaders Speak Out On Payday Lending

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Sekinah Hamlin

Faith and Credit Roundtable Calls Community to Action as Congress Threatens to Tie Hands of Consumer Agency

DURHAM, N.C. — As the U.S. House of Representatives moves a bill that would roll back key consumer protections put into place after the 2008 financial crisis, the Faith & Credit Roundtable is calling on people of faith across the country to demand that Members of Congress support reform of predatory payday lending.  The Faith & Credit Roundtable is an interfaith coalition that seeks to end predatory lending's harmful impact on economically vulnerable families.

Among the many harmful provisions of the Financial CHOICE Act, dubbed the Wrong CHOICE Act by those who oppose the dismantling of consumer protections, is a one-line provision that prioritizes the interests of predatory lenders. In reference to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Section 733 of the bill says, “The Agency may not exercise any rulemaking, enforcement, or other authority with respect to payday loans, vehicle title loans, or other similar loans.”

Payday lending and similar practices draw borrowers into long-term, high-cost debt traps, and the video showcases esteemed faith leaders, clergy and members of faith communities speaking out at events over many years, expressing deep moral concerns about the deceptive practices.  The leaders are members of the Faith & Credit Roundtable, which is a program of the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL).

CRL Director of Faith Affairs Rev. Sekinah Hamlin released the following statement:

We want to make it absolutely clear to Members of Congress that this provision exempting payday lenders from any oversight by the very agency charged with protecting consumers is wrong, unjust, and immoral.

Over the past two years, faith groups representing 118 million Americans mobilized to call on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to enact a strong rule addressing the harms of 300% interest payday lending debt traps.

This provision shows the writers of this bill are not valuing the voice of people of faith. And so we, the people of faith, must rise up in this moment. We must let our voice be heard. We must stand true to our scripture that says you cannot rob the poor just because they are poor, that usury is wrong.

Stephen K. Reeves of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, co-chair of the Faith & Credit Roundtable, made the following statement:

Cooperative Baptist pastors and leaders came out in full support for strong rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that would address debt-trap lending and help create a truly fair marketplace for small-dollar loans. Our partner churches, pastors and other leaders have seen first-hand the devastating consequences of payday and auto-title lending in their congregations and communities. It is time to return to traditional values regarding usury and away from immoral debt-trap loans that have done so much damage to the vulnerable in our communities.

The incredible consensus among faith organizations proves that no longer will people of faith stand by while our neighbors are exploited for profit. We call on Congress to strike this provision prohibiting the CFPB from protecting consumers from predatory payday lending.

Rev. Dr. Willie Gable of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., co-chair of the Faith & Credit Roundtable, made the following statement:

Payday and car title lenders weave themselves into the fabric of our neighborhoods and purport to lend a helping hand. But they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They claim to be for a once-in-a-blue moon emergency, but these loans typically lead to a debt trap and a cascade of other financial consequences, such as increased overdraft fees, delinquency on other bills, involuntary loss of bank accounts, and even bankruptcy.

Payday loans and lenders are an extraction industry - siphoning away our resources and leaving financial devastation to local economies in its wake. This industry must absolutely be regulated, and I join in giving voice to a large faith movement that opposes any legislation, including the CHOICE Act, that would allow these practices to continue unchecked.

For more information, or to arrange an interview with Rev. Sekinah Hamlin, Stephen K. Reeves, or Rev. Dr. Willie Gable, please contact Carol Hammerstein at carol.hammerstein@responsiblelending.org or 919-313-8502.