Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

  Milo gets one mostly right

You may recall that last November I wrote about a story sent to me from North Carolina by my friend Milo. It concerned a dispute among local Baptist churches, some of which wanted to expel the usurers in their congregations while others were for tolerance: The Only Sin that has its own advocacy group.

"I believe that avarice is sinful behavior, but it is not the only sinful behavior in the Bible," said Don Gordon, pastor of Yates Baptist Church in Durham. "Every generation has had its troubles. ... Let's focus on addressing the most pressing issues -- spiritual emptiness, hunger, AIDS, poverty, egocentric leadership -- and in that, be a light for Jesus Christ and God who loves the whole world."…

"We certainly won't be walking down the streets of heaven with people who've been lending money at crippling interest rates," said Ray Seeley of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Canton. "If they have a change in their lifestyle, I believe in bringing them in and loving them. If they do not change, they shouldn't even ask to be baptized -- that would be baptizing sin in the church. "

I took a lot of heat for that report from readers, and had to partially retract it.

I may have been a little precipitous in posting that story, though. Baptist ministers responded by insisting, in multiple emails, that they'd done no such thing—yet. They were concentrating for the moment on expelling gays rather than usurers, they explained.

I think we'll just have to see whether my report on the Baptists turns out to have been premature, then.

It's a good thing I did not retract the story fully. I see now that Milo was right about certain matters, though just a bit ahead of his time. The news report he sent me had occasion to mention a lobbying group for predator lenders:

Jeanette Holt, associate director for The Alliance of Predatory Lenders [said] "This new policy sounds to me like an interfering witch hunt."

After so many Baptists wrote to insist that I was essentially in error with that post, I tried to scare up some information on The Alliance of Predatory Lenders. When I found nothing at all, I concluded that Milo had been duped somehow.

But today I learned that there is such a group. At its new website, it calls itself The Predatory Lending Association

The Predatory Lending Association (PLA) is dedicated to extracting maximum profit from the working poor by increasing payday loan fees and debt traps. The working poor is an exciting, fast growing demographic that includes: military personnel, most minorities, and a growing percentage of the middle class.

So Milo was really onto something after all. The whole matter will need to be investigated anew.

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