By Sharon Felton, CBF Advocacy Outreach Specialist for Kentucky
In May of 2015 several large national religious organizations formed the Faith for Just Lending coalition to advocate for reform at the national level. The newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB has explicit responsibility and authority to enact new rules for payday lending across the country in order to “identify and prevent unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices.” The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is part of this coalition of religious organizations working to reform predatory lending. As CBF/KY we too must come to the table and help make this reform a reality. We have listened to stories of our congregants and neighbors for over two years as they relayed the devastating effects of the predatory debt trap. We have been shocked at the 391% interest rate in Kentucky, and we have gathered to discuss how to follow the biblical mandate to protect the poor and vulnerable against usury practices. Now it is time to act.
On June 2, 2016 the CFPB released a proposed rule with the goal of requiring lenders to assess a borrower’s ability to repay a loan and be able to meet their other financial obligations and living expenses without needing to re-borrow. The CFPB rule represents an unprecedented opportunity to address the problem of predatory lending for the entire country. Until September 14, 2016 the CFPB will be accepting public comments on the rule. A well-organized and vocal religious community making the moral case for reform and strong regulations will have a critical impact on this process. We must share our stories, make comments on the rule and encourage others to do the same, so that as a state and as a nation we can finally have some consistent practical rules to protect our neighbors and communities.
Please know that I am available as a resource for you or your church as you move forward. I am always ready to have conversations about predatory lending. I would love to come and lead a conversation about payday lending, and I also have screening kits available for your church for the movie we debuted at CBF General Assembly, The Ordinance, a 30-minute documentary about payday lending.
Below are two important links. The first is a link to our CBF outline of the proposed rule and helpful suggestions for commenting. The second is a link to make comments. Maybe your church wants to partner with a neighboring church and watch the movie together then spend some time making comments, or have a friendly competition to see which church can submit the most comments in a week, and then enjoy a fellowship together celebrating the good work you’ve done to help your community. Whatever advocacy looks like for your congregation, now is the time to act. We have until September 14 to make a significant difference in the lives of millions of Kentuckians. Keep me posted! I’d love to hear and see how you advocate for those caught in the payday lending debt trap!