Payday Loans a Sin: Usury

LAMPa Director, Amy Reumann, had this letter to the editor printed in the Philadelphia Inquirer on June 16, 2015.

AS CLERGY, our lives revolve around the religious calendars. For our Jewish brothers and sisters, this September’s Yom Kippur is a time of quiet reflection and atonement, followed by the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Christians follow the familiar rhythms of the liturgical calendar, celebrating Christmas every December and Easter every spring.

And nearly every spring for the last three years, clergy from across Pennsylvania sent urgent pleas to Harrisburg to stop predatory payday lenders who are seeking permission to charge usurious, triple-digit interest rates in the Keystone State.

Out-of-state payday lenders and their lobbyists are once again trying to make triple-digit interest rates legal in Pennsylvania. Earlier this month, Democratic Sen. John Yudichak released a memo asking members of the Senate to join him in sponsoring a bill that would make the federal payday-lending rules being considered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau law in our state. The problem? Pennsylvania already has some of the strongest payday lending laws in the country. Adopting the CFPB rules wouldn’t end predatory lending here. It would legalize it.

Products like payday loans leave people who are already in desperate financial situations in an unending cycle of debt. Instead of finding a temporary fix to a temporary problem, borrowers in states where they are legal find themselves borrowing again and again. Payday lenders rely on repeat borrowing. Most of their revenues are generated by borrowers with more than 10 loans.

While we come from different religious traditions, we are united in our belief that people of faith are required to stand against the exploitation our neighbors. That’s why clergy across the state are marking our calendars, preparing for our annual pilgrimage, and telling our lawmakers to keep payday predators out of Pennsylvania.

The Rev. Amy Reumann

Director, Lutheran Advocacy

Ministry in Pennsylvania


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