By IVORY THIGPEN AND CHRIS CHERRY
COLUMBIA, SC — Along with wreaths and lights, the streets of Columbia are festooned with another sign that yuletide is upon us: Payday lending storefronts beckoning with signs advertising “quick holiday cash,” and “fast Christmas loans.”
As ministers, we are struck to the very core by this type of advertising. Payday lending is a scourge at any time of year. Every day, payday lenders lure customers facing challenging financial circumstances into loans with an average interest rate of 400 percent that devastate their financial futures. But it is even worse at this is a time of year, when the faithful struggle to maintain the meaning of the holiday seasons amid the commercialism and pastors attempt to share a sense of joy rooted in the good news of Christmas. To see payday lenders so callously exploiting the season is particularly painful.