Baptists, Dave Ramsey, and Payday Loans
Why is the church taking on Payday loan companies? Church staffers, pastors, and even some lay people are funded by tithes, offerings, and in some cases, donations from around the world and parent organizations, which are, donor funded. Why are people comfortable with paying Pastors to be, essentially lobbyists?
I’m seeing headlines like this:
Cooperative Baptists in Kentucky champion cap on payday loan interest rates
Cooperative Baptists across the country are joining with other people of faith calling for change. Pastors and church leaders are seeing the abuses of this industry first hand — in their congregations and in their communities. We are not anti-business or anti-profit. But, if your business depends on usury, depends on a trap, if it depends on exploiting your neighbors right when they are at their most desperate and vulnerable — then its time for you to find a new business model.
It may be time for the church to also find a new business model, lobbying isn’t it. There is a new model to equip people to handle finances responsibly, and once they do, they won’t need these places. Solid fact.
“The Bible condemns gaining wealth through usury; and the writers of Scripture warn about gaining wealth through exploiting the poor… [but] The State of Alabama allows Payday lenders to charge an annual interest rate of 456%.”
So reads a 2014 Alabama Baptist State Convention resolution condemning predatory payday loans and recommending a 36% cap on interest rates.
The church (collectively, not the Alabama Baptists specifically) spend a whole lot of time condemning things: homosexuality, sexual sin, just to name a few. But what if the church actually spent time equipping people, helping them make changes in their own life?
Both state conferences of the United Methodist Church and the Alabama Baptist State Convention, 3,200 churches and 1.1 million members strong, passed resolutions last year calling for curbs on lending.
“I’ve seen what church people can do when they understand the issue and get behind it,” said Travis Coleman Jr., 65, senior minister at First Baptist Church in Prattville and convention president.
I’ve also seen what a church can do when they understand the issue and get behind it. What if the Baptists and the Methodists took all that tithe and offering money they are using to lobby, (make no mistake, if you pay your pastors, they are a resource and even the time they take to make these statements is ‘on the clock’ and on your tithe) and re-direct that money to hold Financial Peace University classes for the ENTIRE community, buying kits for ANYONE who wants to join, esp low income folk, you could transform a community. Momentum overdrive!
I’d rather spend my money equipping people to not need Payday Lenders than tie up my Pastor’s time in hearings, making statements, etc. And what it does is it takes the spotlight OFF of Pastors, and puts it on people, people finding freedom and overcoming debt. Pastors don’t need to be in the headlines like this. They need to look out for their flock and use their resources wisely. Each of these associations needs to start a momentum program for their community, not just their church.
If they are serious about regulating Payday Loan businesses, I don’t see where in the Gospel this is addressed. But I do see time and again wisdom on managing money in the bible. Maybe they should consider this. $1000 spent on lobbying costs (and make no mistake, it’s being spent even if it’s not labeled as ‘lobbying’ in your church budget) can buy 1000 kits or more. Can that transform a community? I think so.
What if we did a momentum program for the ENTIRE community instead of trying to take on these companies? Same money, greater returns. People would be freed. And the need for these companies would wither and die.