Call to Action for Economic Dignity

Below is a copy of the email I sent out earlier today to @brentwoodccdoc folk stating the basic reasons why I am in favor of capping the interest rate on predatory payday lending practices in Missouri. Upon retrospect, perhaps a better summary of my position can be found here: “If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor, you shall not exact interest from them.” – Exodus 22:25

I hope you can make plans to attend the Call to Action for Economic Dignity event

Dear friends — In our denominational tradition the pastor speaks to the church but not for the church. In that spirit [I want to pass along] this information to you from the Council of Churches of the Ozarks, for your consideration. This event is about an issue very close to my heart, and I am so proud of faith leaders in Springfield — from Baptists to Methodists to Catholics as well as many others — who are coming together next week at First Baptist Church to try to make Springfield a better community by capping the interest rate on predatory payday lending practices. Right now the average APR on Missouri payday loans equals 445%. Not only is Missouri only one of two states that allows this, but, from a biblical perspective, I believe such a rate to be simply unacceptable (numerous passages in the Bible talk about providing loans that don’t take advantage of the needy and the vulnerable, often with 0% interest as the norm). At the same time, I agree with those who say small loans still need to be available to those who need them, and I fully recognize there are perhaps better ways to achieve reform than through a ballot initiative. I am especially encouraged by several local leaders, including bankers, who are trying to put together a means by which small loans can be provided by credible lenders at a very fair interest rate, similar to what has already taken place in communities across the U.S., and I am hopeful that their efforts might come to fruition in the Springfield community. As it is, most of the small business payday lenders in Springfield come from out of state companies who set up shop locally, so even the vast millions of dollars that are made on these loans in Missouri don’t stay in the state. All of this bothers me, for civic and religious reasons. You certainly don’t have to agree with me about this (again, I speak to the church but not for the church), but I do invite you to join in conversation about it. And if this is close to your heart, I hope you will take time to join me and many other people of faith in Springfield who are coming together next week at First Baptist Church to work toward a better alternative that restores economic dignity. Here you will find the details about the event.

Thank you,

Call to Action for Economic Dignity
Monday, February 27th
First Baptist Church
5-6pm: Pre-event Clergy gathering
6-6:30pm: Light dinner provided by First Baptist Church
6:30-8pm: Program

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