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Payday loans: Oppressing desperate souls at 390% APR

“The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (Proverbs 22:7)

It’s hard to imagine a more predatory practice than payday lenders, with desperate poor people charged an effective 390% annual interest rate — in many states legally and unregulated.

Barrett DukeBarrett Duke writes at

It’s easy to get in debt and often very hard to get out. This is especially true if you live on the edge of poverty. People on the edge of poverty have very little room for an unexpected expense. So, what do they do when one inevitably occurs? Many turn to payday lenders. And in doing so, they often make their poverty worse.

Here’s how it works. A payday lender offers to lend a single mother, say, $500 to help pay for an unexpected expense, like a car repair. He offers a simple deal—repay the loan in two weeks with 15% interest. In other words, when her next paycheck comes in. She can’t afford the loan and doesn’t know how she will repay it, but she needs her car to get to work, her children to daycare, and herself to college. “OK,” she says to herself, “I’ll figure it out in two weeks.” Two weeks come in a hurry, and suddenly she owes $565, the $500 loan plus 15% interest. That’s right, it’s not 15% annual interest. It’s 15% two-week interest.

She goes to the lender and explains her problem. He says, “No problem.” Just pay the interest due and he can extend the loan for two more weeks, at another 15% interest. What choice does she have? She pays the $65 and signs on for another two weeks. You see where this is heading, don’t you? Every two weeks, things are the same, and this woman is now paying out $130 a month on a $500 loan, with no end in sight. …

in many of our states, no one is watching these payday lenders. The result is that vulnerable people are being held captive and paying outrageous amounts of interest on very small loans. … Let me encourage you to check your state’s laws governing payday loans. If your state hasn’t done anything to rein these people in, I hope you will contact your elected officials and demand that they do something to help protect vulnerable people in your communities.

Read the full text of this article by clicking here.

Payday Loans

Vote — it matters

Barrett Duke writes for

Will Rogers once said, “Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.” How right he was. We all complain about government. Often for good reason. Government tends to restrict us, tax us, penalize us, and generally often makes a nuisance of itself. At times, governments have become so burdensome, overbearing and intrusive that men have risen up against them, overthrown them and established new ones.

That, in fact, is our nation’s story. Our founders and many of our nation’s church leaders argued that the King of England had lost his right to govern them because he was abusing his power. This was a crucial issue to our forefathers. They accepted the teaching of the Apostle Paul that government is a “minister of God … for good.” Its purpose is to punish evil and to reward good. So they created a new government to fulfill this God-given purpose, but they dispensed with the idea of divine right to rule and invested in the governed the right to choose their government.

Their idea was radical for its day. They even wondered if it would actually work. But they trusted God to guide in the affairs of men, and they trusted the people to choose well. Today our nation is a testament to their trust in God and the people. The United States of America has become the envy of most of the world, and the democratic form of government is now the most popular form of government in the world.

But democracies are only as good as the people who are chosen to govern. If the wrong people gain the power of the civil authority, great damage can be done. What happens when the governing authority begins to reward evil and to punish good? It subjects itself to the judgment of God. History is filled with the evidence of God’s judgment on nations for their failure to honor Him with their laws. When nations begin to reward evil and punish good, watch out.

But who ultimately is responsible when the governing authorities no longer honor God through their administration? In a democracy, the people are responsible. After all, the governing authorities serve by their permission. This is why it is so important for everyone to make sure to vote on Nov. 6. I know there are no perfect candidates. There never have been and never will be. You know that, too. But we don’t have the luxury to sit it out. We have a responsibility to help our government fulfill its God-given task. Whether or not it achieves that task is ultimately not the responsibility of those who are chosen, but of those who do the choosing.

Do you want God’s favor on our nation? Does the future of our nation matter to you? What do you want this nation to be like for your children and grandchildren? I think these questions all matter to you. Then, do something about it. Vote. And don’t vote for personalities, parties or even personal benefit. Vote to help our government fulfill its God-ordained function — to reward good and to punish evil. Vote your biblical values. It’s not all you can do, but surely it’s the least you can do. I’ll see you at the voting booth. May God continue to bless the United States of America.

Barrett Duke is vice president for public policy and research of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Porn is a justice issue

Conservative evangelicals long ago grew weary of the fight against pornography, but people with a passion for justice must focus on pushing back on that darkness. Porn devastates every life it touches. Women and girls, men and boys, gays and lesbians — everyone in front of the camera is oppressed and victimized to produce porn. Men and women who watch it are ruined for meaningful relationship. Innocents are sexually abused and assaulted because of porn. The Internet and mobile devices have made porn so widely available, and so many have been ensnared, that the foundations of civilized society are actually threatened. This isn’t about moralism; it’s about stopping an oppression and helping people find wholeness and abundant life.

Barrett Duke offers some solid insight about porn’s devastation in a new column on Baptist Press:

WASHINGTON (BP) — The pornography industry has had another STD scare in its ranks. No one should be surprised. Its mistreatment of the human body and complete disregard for human dignity is bound to lead to the destruction of those who engage in it.

But pornography destroys not only those who engage in making it. It also destroys those who view it. While men and women are attracted to pornography for different reasons, the impact is devastating. Pornography introduces women to a fantasy world of false relationships that substitute for the real thing. It enables men to imagine sexual relationships without responsibility. For both, the result is isolation from members of the opposite sex and the loss of relationships that give meaning to life.

Pornography also devastates marriages. The loss of genuine intimacy is one of the leading causes of marital problems, including divorce. Women who discover their husbands are viewing pornography feel a deep sense of betrayal and insecurity. Their feelings of betrayal arise from the knowledge that their husbands are actually fantasizing about other women while they are engaged in acts of intimacy with them. They are insecure because they believe they are no longer personally appealing enough to their husbands.

Men who discover their wives are viewing pornography feel a deep sense of betrayal and isolation. They believe their wives are engaged in the equivalent of affairs with other men. This can lead to a sense of insecurity as they believe that they have failed to keep their wives’ interest. It also results in greater isolation in the marriage as the wife looks to others for emotional engagement and interaction.

Some advocate viewing pornography as a way to enhance the physical experience between couples. This is outrageous. Couples aroused by viewing pornography end up using each other as a means of self-gratification. God intended the sexual relationship to be an act of selfless giving, where the partners are focused on satisfying the needs of each other. In God’s design for sex, personal satisfaction results but it occurs within the context of mutual giving. Pornography reverses this and makes the desires of each person the central focus and the satisfaction of the partner a byproduct.

Pornography is not only destructive to marriage. It also destroys the viewer’s sense of decency. A multitude of studies have demonstrated that people who view pornography start out watching what is mislabeled as “soft porn.” Eventually this level of pornography is no longer stimulating, and the viewer seeks out more graphic forms. In time, many viewers end up watching things they would have originally thought to be thoroughly sick.

Pornography also destroys male attitudes toward women. Pornography is principally about violence against women. In pornography, women are merely objects for male aggression. No meaningful emotional relationship is developed in pornography. It is all about the male’s satisfaction at the woman’s expense. Pornography is implicated in nearly all acts of sexual violence. It feeds the basest aspects of the male psyche and produces in some men an insatiable desire to fulfill their violent fantasies in real life.

The sexual relationship is the ultimate form of intimacy between a husband and wife. God intended it to be something unique and special between them. Through it a husband and wife become completely vulnerable to each other, engaged in an act of complete self-giving. The physical act is only part of all that is supposed to occur between a husband and a wife in the sexual relationship. Pornography reduces this beautiful expression of human bonding to a mechanical act devoid of anything except selfish physical gratification.

Our children, our marriages, our communities and our nation all have a stake in ridding our homes of pornography. Let me encourage you to make sure that no one in your home can view pornography on any device. Do all you can to keep computers in public spaces in your home. Put accountability and filtering software on your computers that prevents access to pornography and that also sends a record of Internet sites visited to another monitoring computer. Anonymity is pornography’s best ally. Accountability is the best defense against it.

If you are struggling with pornography, don’t think lightly of it. It is corrosive and utterly destructive to the user, to all his or her relationships, and to communities. Find a trusted friend that you can talk to about it, and start with your spouse and your pastor. Then find some professional help that can guide you back to an appropriate, biblical attitude toward sex and all of your relationships. Finally, I hope you will work to eliminate pornography from your neighborhoods, and work with local and federal lawmakers to help put in place some effective policies that will rid our homes of this destroyer of all that is good and pure.


A postscript to the article lists 10 pointers for combating the influence and damage of pornography:

— Make time for God every day. Praying, reading and memorizing Scripture will make a big difference in your life.

— Commit yourself before God to avoid situations on a computer or in a bookstore where temptations may abound.

— Place computers in a common area of the home, clearly visible to all members of the family.

— Don’t roam the Internet aimlessly. Always have a definite destination in mind. Avoid surfing the Web late at night when you’re alone and tired.

— Find another individual with whom you can be accountable. Share your struggles and hold up a moral standard for each other.

— Decide what online activities and how much time online are acceptable and communicate these to family members.

— Share phone and computer passwords with your spouse.

— Monitor children’s computer and smart phone data usage akin to monitoring their TV viewing.

— Periodically review file names stored on a computer. Names ending in GIF, JPG, BMP, TIF, PCX, DL and GL commonly refer to video or graphic images you can check.

— If struggling with any form of pornography or moral impurity, your pastor or a biblical counselor recommended by your church likely can help you. A pastor or counselor also can help relationships damaged by the pain of pornography.

More information and resources on combatting pornography can be found by clicking here.

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