A Christian coalition headed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Baptist Convention is calling regulating payday lenders a moral imperative.
"The payday lending business model is widely considered harmful and sinful,” said Stephen Reeves, associate coordinator for partnerships and advocacy of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in announcing a study Wednesday by Faith for Just Lending.
The report found faith leaders who knew people with payday loans witnessed the devastating financial impact of these loans and many other negative consequences.
Nearly a third of clergy and connected service providers surveyed who knew individuals with payday or car title loans had provided money to them to help pay or refinance the debt.
Borrowers on fixed incomes were particularly vulnerable to the high interest rates of the loans and the high costs incurred by the frequent need to roll over the borrowings and extend the length of the debt and the costs of the interest payments, according to ministers interviewed for the study.
Of all the Christians surveyed, 86 percent said the government should prohibit loans with excessive interest rates.
At the same time, 77 percent told the pollsters it is a sin for a lender to gain by making a loan that harms someone financially.
The results are based on a poll of 1,000 Christians in a total of 30 states February 5-17.