LA Clergy pen open letter to legislators, governor in support of payday lending reform
BATON ROUGE (NBC33) — Several religious leaders from around the state of Louisiana gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday for a press conference to release an open letter to legislators and Governor Jindal.
In the letter, Louisiana clergy express their support for predatory lending reform and urge the state to pass meaningful change.
The letter calls for capping the interest rate on payday loans to 36 percent annually, or capping the number of loans that can be issued in a 12-month period.
According to the letter, Louisiana has some of the most permissive payday loan laws, with no limit on the amount of loans that can be given in a year and allowing up to 700 percent interest and fees annually.
The letter states: “We have been hearing the cries of our people about payday lending, and we believe it is time for our legislators to take action to address the cause for their concern…. This predatory form of lending not only affects individual families. It affects the economic well-being of our entire state. A recent study found that payday lending is costing our state over $42 million in economic activity each year and more than 614 jobs.”
Clergy members include examples from other states and the federal government to show how payday-lending reform could work.
Along with the letter, clergy members compiled a list of biblical scriptures they believe address the issue of predatory lending.
More than 150 religious leaders in Louisiana signed the letter including leaders of several major religious denominations:
Rev. Fred Luter, National President, Southern Baptist Convention
The Rt. Rev'd. Morris K. Thompson, Jr., Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, Bishop, United Methodist Church, Louisiana Annual Conference
Rob Gorman, Director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
Dr. C. S. Gordon, Jr., President, Louisiana Missionary Baptist State Convention
Bishop Robert J. Taylor, Louisiana State Bishop, Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship
Rev. Samuel C. Tolbert, Jr., President, Louisiana Home and Foreign Missions Baptist State Convention
Rev Dr Ron Sutto, General Presbyter, Presbytery of South Louisiana
Rev. Reid Doster, Louisiana State Coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship
Dr. Jesse Bilberry, Moderator, 4th District Missionary Baptist Association
Rev. Harry Blake, Vice President, National Baptist Convention