Arizona Auto Title Lending Must Be Capped To Save The Poor

In this season Christians are observing the coming – awaiting the arrival of the one we believe has come to redeem the earth. It’s a moment of joy, yes.

But it is also a time of reflection on the evils of the world. We walk in the darkness of injustice, war, poverty and greed.

As pastors, we are troubled when we see vulnerable worshipers being preyed upon, including in their financial transactions.

This is why we support the Arizona Fair Loans Act, a voting initiative effort that lower the interest rate on car title loans, so securities lending firms cannot charge more than 36% annual interest.

Loans charge borrowers 200% interest

When families are in financial difficulty, they are vulnerable to the promise of “quick cash” from car title and other predatory lenders as a financial liferaft. Unfortunately, the liferaft often turns out to be an anchor, weighing down borrowers with debt.

Too often this raft weighs us down too. With interest rates of up to 204%, our already strained charitable funds are often stretched even further in an attempt to help our brothers and sisters pay off these disastrous loans.

In 2008, Arizona voted to ban payday loans, which scammed families with exorbitant interest rates, sometimes over 200% per annum. At this point, about half of the payday loan companies in Arizona have simply switched their products to vehicle title loans, so they can continue to charge families these exorbitant interest rates.

Today in Arizona, securities lenders are making megaprofits by charging borrowers interest rates of up to 200%. Studies show that one in five borrowers end up losing their car when they can’t pay. Fixed income families are often trapped in debt. And churches like ours need to step in to help people get back on their feet.

Don’t exploit the poor for profit

What do the scriptures tell us about debts and loans?

In Proverbs 14:31 we are advised: “Those who oppress the poor insult their creator, but helping the poor honors him. “

Proverbs 22:22 continues by teaching us: “Do not steal from the poor because he is poor. “

The car title loan does just that. It targets the needy with loans they cannot afford for the benefit of the rich.

Securities lending benefits the poor and makes deleveraging almost impossible. God created mankind in his own image and bestowed dignity and worth on every human being. Predatory loans put people in a perpetual state of debt, all for personal gain.

Making a profit is not unethical; however, making an extreme profit at the expense of the weak and vulnerable is condemned by Jesus – and human decency in general.

As Christ is the light and the hope of the world, we must be the light to those who suffer from this darkness. We must stop this exploitation of the poor and ensure that all Arizonans can live with dignity.

We pray that God will fill us with wisdom and compassion when the Arizonans vote. We humbly ask you to support the Arizona Fair Lending Act.

Reverend Abigail Conley is pastor of Chalice Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Gilbert and Randy Reynolds is Founder and Executive Director of Community Renewal in Tucson, which engages the faith community on social and other issues. Reach them at [email protected] and [email protected]

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