The problem of predatory lending — Baptists confront a neglected justice issue

The problem of predatory lending — Baptists confront a neglected justice issue

Check out the latest issue of fellowship! magazine! This issue  features columns and stories on CBF church starting and women church starters, disaster relief efforts and much more. Read the cover story (pdf version) on the problem of predatory lending!

By Aaron Weaver

Meet Elliott.

Elliott is a Vietnam War veteran. Like a growing number of Americans, Elliott is underemployed and has lived paycheck to paycheck for quite some time. An emergency savings fund is a privilege that he has not been able to afford.

When his wife Linda fell and broke her leg, Elliott panicked. With Linda unable to work, how would they make the next mortgage payment?

To save their modest home, Elliott took out a $500 “payday” loan. But that small payday loan proved to be a bad decision, if he even had a real choice. One loan led to another and then another. Elliott was forced to take out additional loans, a loan to pay for the last loan. Two years later, he was trapped, paying the lender $450 every two weeks, never able to touch the principal for all the interest.

Elliott eventually lost his home, spending more than $30,000 in the process.

Elliott shared his very personal story with Jeanie McGowan, associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Jefferson City, Mo., and former CBF Coordinating Council member. “He couldn’t tell the story without tears,” McGowan observed.

Unfortunately, Elliott’s story is far from unique.

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