By Melissa Wuske
Faith Leaders Oppose Predatory Lending
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention has joined the fight against predatory loans.
“We cannot sit by idly while some of the poorest among us are preyed on by people simply looking for a quick buck with no regard for the devastation they cause in the lives of others,” said Barrett Duke, the vice president for public policy and research at ERLC.
ERLC joins a variety of faith organizations in the newly launched Faith for Just Lending coalition, a varied group including the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the National Baptist Convention USA, the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and the PICO National Network.
Across the nation more than 20,000 payday and car-title loan institutions offer consumers loans at rates as high as 300 percent APR. “What looks like a way out of a desperate situation leads to more poverty,” said Russell Moore, ERLC president.
Faith for Just Lending is calling for churches to model financial stewardship and generosity to people in need. But they’re also asking the government to hold lenders accountable for unreasonable interest rates and predatory or deceptive lending practices.
“The government has a responsibility to protect people from fraud and deception,” Moore said. “The people who are targeted by predatory lenders don’t have lobbyists in Washington.”
Seniors Cancel Class Trip
Last year’s senior class at Profile Junior-Senior High School in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, had a fun class trip planned. But when their principal, Courtney Vashaw, announced that she was fighting a rare and aggressive form of soft tissue cancer, the seniors changed their plans.
“She’s just very caring, very selfless,” senior Ian Baker said, “and we wanted to be selfless too.” The class voted unanimously to donate the $8,000 they’d raised for the trip to help cover Vashaw’s medical expenses.
Vashaw was shocked by their generosity. “They’re a pretty remarkable, fun, astonishing group of people,” Vashaw said.
Hopeful News on World Hunger
The United Nations annual hunger report has some promising news: the number of people in the world who are suffering from hunger has decreased in the last 25 years. In 1990, one billion people (or 23.3 percent of the population at the time) were hungry; now, despite the surge in population since 1990, the number of people suffering from hunger is down to 795 million (around 12.9 percent of the population).
While that is encouraging news, and points to hope for future gains in the fight against hunger, many people still deal with hunger, and some regions remain disproportionately vulnerable. In some parts of Africa, 1 in 3 people go hungry. Today 24 African nations have food crises—twice the number from 1990. The report states that “extreme weather events, natural disasters, political instability, and civil strife have all impeded progress.”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).