Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Saturday, February 16, 2008

  Conservative Christians and Usury

You'd have thought that usury would be little practiced in areas of the country where large numbers of conservative Christians go so far as to declare that the Bible is the received word of the Almighty, reflecting His will, His interests, and even His grammatical tendencies. But in fact the opposite is true. The worst and most shameless form of legalized usury, the payday lender, is most prevelant in the Bible belt and least common in the liberal Northeast. There are maps here that make the point graphically.

One of the authors of a forthcoming study documenting the interrelation between Christian conservatives and usury has this to say:

“A generation ago, populist Christian leaders were among the most aggressive opponents of usurious lending. But today many Christian leaders take large campaign contributions from the credit industry and no longer support the Biblical injunction against usury in public life...

Our research showed that the correlation between payday lenders and the political power of conservative Christians was stronger than the correlation between payday lenders and the proportion of a population living below the poverty line...

Our findings should serve as a wake-up call reminding Christian leaders of the Biblical duty to expel usurious money changers from their flocks."

The latter was a point I made some time ago, rather more sarcastically, after a prominent North Carolina Baptist leader declared that homosexuality is "The only sin that has its own advocacy group". I was pretty sure that's not true. In fact, it seemed to me that usurers had long had the ears, the hearts, and minds of conservative Christian leaders. I'm saddened but not surprised to see this new study confirm that impression.

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