Each year, many households face financial crises. Over the last several decades, high-cost lending to those in need has increased significantly. More than 20,000 payday and car title loan stores operate nationwide. Taking advantage of loopholes and a weakening of traditional usury laws, many of these lenders now offer loans at 300% APR and higher. Far too often, the result is families trapped in a cycle of debt with even less ability to pay the bills, keep food on the table, save for the next emergency, or provide for their children.
Scripture condemns usury and teaches us to respect the God-given dignity of each person and to love our neighbors rather than exploiting their financial vulnerability. Thus, just lending is a matter of Biblical morality and religious concern. Fairness and dignity are values that should be respected in all human relationships including business and financial relationships.
We urge churches, lenders, individuals and government to each do their part to teach stewardship, offer responsible products, use credit wisely, encourage just lending and put an end to predatory loans. We call for an end to the exploitation of households and families through the payday debt trap.