Toxic Lending Press Conference
Comments by GBM’s Rev. Carolyn Foster
May 18, 2017, Vulcan Park
As a member of the clergy and a person of faith, I believe we have a moral responsibility to protect our neighbors from harm and to treat each other the way we, ourselves, would like to be treated. This principle known, as the Golden Rule, can be found in all faith traditions. It involves being faithful and honest with one another, as we would want others to be faithful and honest with us, especially if we were being taken advantaged of, being hurt, or being exploited.
Predatory lending is a scam and there is nothing faithful or honest about the toxic lending structure that our elected officials are allowing in this State. It intentionally targets our most vulnerable neighbors – senior citizens on fixed incomes, who never receive additional income to help them pay off these loans; families with growing children already struggling to make ends meet; college students on financial aid already stressed to keep their heads above water – these are people who can least afford this debt trap and suffer the burden of this toxic lending.
It is hurting people, further driving them into deeper financial duress. It is a vicious cycle. IT IS IRRESPONSIBLE. It is immoral. AND IT IS WRONG! Churches and other faith communities’ charitable donations often go to help people who are struck in this toxic lending cycle. That’s money that should be going to things like shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens; not into pockets of predatory lenders.
Scripture explicitly condemns usury. We call on our legislators to do the right thing by providing relief for our neighbors who are trapped and being exploited by this immoral practice.
I remind our legislators, that when they were sworn in to serve the people of Alabama, they raised their right hand to God and said,
“I, solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Alabama, so long as I continue a citizen thereof; and that I will faithfully and honestly discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, to the best of my ability. So help me God.”
“Faithfully and honestly” – “So help me God”
There is nothing faithful nor honest about vowing to serve the people of Alabama while favoring a toxic lending industry that holds them hostage.
According to Matt 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
The effect of toxic lending is exploitive, abusive and oppressive.
We should MAKE NO PEACE WITH OPPRESSION.