DECATUR, Ga. — Continuing its efforts alongside pastors, churches and Global Missions field personnel to reform predatory lending practices, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has requested to join litigation to defend a regulation intended to restrict industry practices that create debt traps for consumers.
CBF is requesting “intervenor” status in a case filed by two industry associations challenging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule that will strengthen protections for consumers against predatory lending tactics. The rule is currently set to be implemented by August 19, 2019. But since the CFPB released the rule last October, the agency has changed its approach to consumer protection, including a plan to reconsider the rule as written.
Because CBF believes strongly in the importance of the current rule, CBF has asked the court to allow it to step into the shoes of a defendant and take the litigation steps necessary to defend the CFPB’s rule against the industry associations’ claims. CBF’s litigation efforts will build on the work of field personnel as well as pastors and churches in direct aid to borrowers, and the efforts of CBF Advocacy in this area. CBF will be represented pro bono by the Public Citizen Litigation Group and the Equal Justice Center.
The case was filed against the CFPB in a federal court in Austin, Texas, in April 2018 by two industry associations, the Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA) and the Consumer Service Alliance of Texas (CSAT). They claim, among other things, that CFPB did not follow proper procedure in issuing the rule; that CFPB improperly deemed certain lending practices unfair and abusive; that the agency’s authority to address unfair and abusive practices is unconstitutional; and that the agency’s structure is unconstitutional.
Suzii Paynter, CBF’s executive coordinator, is excited about this opportunity to expand and build on CBF’s advocacy for payday lending reform.
“Payday lending is an industry that relies on products designed to be most profitable when borrowers fail,” Paynter said. “CBF’s leadership among the religious community to oppose predatory lending is a matter of faith for us. We are called to bolster human dignity, not diminish it, and to support people created in the image of God, not undermine their flourishing.”
Stephen Reeves, associate coordinator of partnerships and advocacy said, “Advocates in CBF life have worked for years against predatory lending practices, including support of the CFPB. It is wrong to take advantage of others when they’re desperate. This rule is the best hope we have right now to reform these practices nationwide. People of faith should do all we can to stop the abuse of our neighbors for profit. If the CFPB won’t defend its own work, we will.”
Gary Dollar, CBF’s Moderator, said the CBF Governing Board affirms the vital national role CBF is playing to stop predatory lending practices and the effort to seek intervenor status.
“I’m proud that the work of our churches, pastors, field personnel and advocates has resulted in this opportunity to intervene. We are motivated because of the harm these bad loans do to vulnerable people and communities. In this moment, our faith requires us to stand up and defend the rule created to protect families, even when others will not.”
Scarlette Jasper, CBF field personnel serving in McCreary and Pulaski counties and other parts of Kentucky, has been an advocate for her neighbors struggling to make ends meet for years. She provides group workshops and one-on-one financial education that focuses on budgeting and other sustainable financial management skills, and warns people about the pitfalls of payday loans, as part of CBF’s rural development coalition, Together for Hope. She’s also developing a micro-loan program as an alternative for these families.
“Families need a place to go for financial assistance, but they do not need to be taken advantage of,” Jasper said. “These companies prey on the elderly, disabled, and the working poor. This must change and with the support of CBF and others who speak out against lenders’ harmful practices, I pray that it will.”
CBF Coordinator of Global Missions Steven Porter noted that scripture speaks clearly against the exploitation of others and that this type of mission work must be motivated by the witness of Jesus.
“The Bible condemns the exploitation of poor people,” Porter said. “Our actions should be motivated by the words of Jesus who says, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’ (Mt 25:31-46). As a former CBF field personnel, I saw first-hand those victimized by predatory lending. I thank God for the work of current rural and urban field personnel, partner churches, and even legal partners to fight it. This is mission work that takes Jesus at his word.”
Read Frequently Asked Questions and learn more at www.cbf.net/paydaylitigation
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is a Christian network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support. CBF’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.