Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sin in South Dakota: Usury

He does not exploit the poor, but instead is fair to debtors and does not rob them.
Ezekiel 18:16

Usury: ...the lending of money at exorbitant interest rates... an unconscionable or exorbitant rate or amount of interest...

The Credit Card industry is such a major employer and influence here that our lone Representative, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, was the ONLY Democrat to vote against limits on interest rate and fee limits!

At the state level, South Dakota allows "payday loan" businesses to proliferate and charge horrific interest rates. As reported here earlier, the Legislature turned back efforts to limit usury in this "industry."

And the toxic impact of usury does not stop with its impact on debtors. South Dakota philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, who amassed his fortune through the credit card business, recently sent $30,000,000 out of state to support embryonic (life destroying) stem cell research.

Almighty God, who created us in your image: Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil and to make no peace with oppression; and, that we may reverently use our freedom, help us to employ it in the maintenance of justice in our communities and among the nations, to the glory of your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Collect for Social Justice, BCP 1979

UPDATE: The Archbishop of York calls usurers "hyenas."


Anonymous said...

Wow, you really are a flagplanter, Tim+. Not satisfied to take on the powers that be in TEC, you also publicly challenge the economic powers that be in Sioux Falls, by rightly condemning the horrific financial abuse perpetrated by the major credit card companies in the US, several of which have big operations based in Sioux Falls. I admire your courage. Bravo!

Among other appropriate biblical passages warning about the evils of usury and thus exploiting the poor would be Prov. 22:7, "the borrower is slave to the lender." Or Deut. 23:19, "You shall not charge interest on a loan to a fellow Israelite." Granted, we live in a totally different kind of economy than the ancient Israelites (where there was no banking industry in an agrarian economy), but we have blithely forgotten that usury is a serious sin. Medieval Christendom took it very seriously.

TLF+ said...

David+ - I have folks here who are putting together a meeting with the State Legislator who attempted to limit the short term loan rates.

That bill was defeated last session, but with enough attention and some grass roots effort perhaps the effort can be revived.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. Where to begin? How about clean up your own "house" first...good luck with that.