May 12, 2016
By Aaron Weaver
DECATUR, Ga. — With new federal rules meant to reform the payday lending industry possibly weeks away, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is continuing its fight against predatory lending.
CBF has emerged over the past several years as a key faith group working for nationwide reforms of usurious payday and auto-title lending. CBF Advocacy Coordinator Stephen Reeves recently led a diverse group of influential faith leaders at an April 6 meeting with Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—the entity with the authority to bring much-needed reforms to the payday loan industry. Reeves and the group urged Cordray to lead the CFPB propose a strong rule to reform the industry and release that rule as soon as possible.
A week later, LifeWay Research released the results of research supported by the Faith for Just Lending coalition, of which CBF is a founding member, regarding the viewpoints of Christians concerning payday lending. In addition, the coalition released its own report detailing the results of surveys of clergy who have had first-hand encounters with the devastating effects of payday lending in their own ministries and communities.
Reeves also represented CBF at an April 14 meeting with senior White House advisors to articulate a moral case for reform of the payday loan industry and share stories with members of the Obama Administration about the damaging impact of predatory lending on individuals and communities.
In recent months, CBF has hired two additional part-time advocacy outreach specialists in Florida and Tennessee. Rachel Gunter Shapard, associate coordinator of CBF of Florida, and Alexandro Miller, a former program director of The Beatitudes Society and adjunct professor in Tennessee, have been deployed to develop relationships and educate Cooperative Baptists about predatory lending issues in these critical states. During the fall of 2015, CBF also deployed advocacy outreach specialists to Texas, Kentucky and South Carolina.
“I am so pleased and proud of how Cooperative Baptist pastors and church members have responded to this incredibly important advocacy opportunity,” Reeves said. “It is because of them that CBF is now a national leader within the larger faith community. It is an honor to represent such passionate and committed CBF advocates. Our advocacy outreach specialists have done an outstanding job spreading the word among our churches and have become leaders in their respective states on the problem of payday lending.”
Reeves said that he is hopeful the CFPB will announce a strong rule to help reign in the payday loan industry.
“I look forward to the release of the CFPB rule and know that stories and comments from Cooperative Baptist pastors and supporters will help ensure that a strong and effective rule is finalized. We have a real opportunity to be partners in renewing God’s world as we raise our collective voices on behalf of the vulnerable in our communities.”
CBF is a Christian Network that helps people put their faith to practice through ministry efforts, global missions and a broad community of support.The Fellowship’s mission is to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission.