Earlier today, I joined thirty or so of my minister colleagues at the State Capitol to express our support for changing current payday lending laws in Texas. Right now, payday lenders operate through a loophole in Texas law that allows them to charge any rate of fees and interest that they want without any oversight or regulation by the state. Following are my remarks, explaining the theological basis of our efforts:
Remarks by Reverend Timothy B. Tutt Pastor, United Christian Church,
- Jesus himself said, in Luke Chapter 6, “If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But…do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.”
- “It is well with the [the person] who deals generously and lends; it is well with the one whose affairs are conducted with justice.” – Psalm 112:5
- “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and God will repay [that person] for [those] deeds.”- Proverbs 19:17
But the current practices of the payday lending industry are not reasonable.
The current practices are immoral, out of control, and predatory. Charging 500% interest violates any sense of decency and compassion and basic fairness.
This is not just a Christian issue or a Jewish issues. The sacred writings of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism are equally expressive.
We are not here today just to support good public policy.
We are not here today just to take part in the legislative process.
We are here today with the firm theological conviction that 500% interest is wrong. Charging people astronomical rates and fees is wrong. Trapping people in cycles of debt is wrong.
We are here today to speak a word of justice, to call for kindness, to remind ourselves and our elected officials that God cares how treat each other. God cares especially how we treat the poor and needy among us…and we should care as well.
* Texas Faith for Fair Lending is a statewide coalition of religious groups, working to reform predatory lending in Texas.