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Religious Organization Seeks to Defend Protections for Consumers From Abusive Lending Practices

Sept. 19, 2018

Religious Organization Seeks to Defend Protections for Consumers From Abusive Lending Practices

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Seeks to Intervene to Defend Important Consumer Protection Rule Against Industry Groups’ Legal Challenge

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is seeking to defend a regulation that would protect consumers from harmful practices by payday and vehicle title lenders.

On Wednesday, represented by Public Citizen Litigation Group and the Equal Justice Center, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) filed a motion (PDF) to intervene in a pending lawsuit challenging the rule in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued the rule in October 2017 after more than five years of research and study. After the rule was issued, however, the agency’s leadership changed, and now, the motion explains, the bureau has indicated that it may not fully defend its rule in court.

Based in Decatur, Ga., the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is a Christian network of approximately 1,800 churches and thousands of individuals, along with 18 state and regional organizations, and more than 750 endorsed chaplains and pastoral counselors. CBF also employs about 80 field personnel serving in more than 30 countries around the world.

CBF has spent years addressing the harmful effects of payday and vehicle-title loan practices that Cooperative Baptist churches and ministers have seen in their communities. CBF is especially concerned that current industry practices can trap consumers in cycles of debt they cannot afford, and has pursued ministry and mission efforts to help consumers avoid or get out of these debt-traps.

The bureau’s rule, set to be fully implemented by Aug. 19, 2019, would address many of CBF’s concerns by limiting lenders’ ability to make loans to consumers who cannot afford them and requiring other measures to protect consumers from getting stuck in long cycles of loans. The rule addresses specific lending practices that the bureau found were unfair and abusive.

“The bureau’s payday rule provides vital protections for vulnerable consumers. It is imperative that these protections are implemented as planned, so that lenders stop the unfair and abusive practices that trap consumers in debt. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s participation in the industry lawsuit will help ensure that the bureau’s important consumer protection rule is defended in court,” said Public Citizen’s Rebecca Smullin, the lead attorney representing CBF.

“Payday lending is an industry that relies on products designed to be most profitable when borrowers fail,” said Suzii Paynter, CBF’s executive coordinator. “Opposing predatory lending practices is a matter of faith for us. We are called to bolster human dignity, not diminish it.

Learn more about the case.