By Pastor Mark Papke-Larson
Payday loans are small-dollar loans due on the borrower’s next payday. In Minnesota, the 2020 Minnesota Department of Commerce report showed that the average payday loan size is $380, and the cost of borrowing this amount for two weeks computes to an appalling 273% APR.
In Beltrami County, there were 4,109 payday loans averaging $311 with an annual interest rate averaging 202%.
One could overlook this exorbitant interest rate if borrowers took out one loan, climbed out of debt and walked away satisfied. But that is not the reality surrounding this predatory loan product.
MDC data shows that the typical payday loan borrower takes an average of 10 loans per year, and is in debt for 20 weeks or more at triple-digit APRs. For the $380 loan mentioned above, that translates to $397.90 in charges, plus the amount of the principal -- nearly $800 when all is said and done.
The practices of most contemporary payday lenders are very similar to those condemned in the sacred texts and teachings of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
The Bible declares, “If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest” (Exodus 22:25).
The Quran takes a principled stance against predatory lending -- charging any interest at all is sinful according to Allah, as it is the responsibility of financial professionals to help people get out of debt as soon as possible, rather than deepening and profiting from their debt (Surah 2:275-281).
In the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, the Catholic Church teaches that “usury is a scourge that is also a reality in our time and that has a stranglehold on many people’s lives” -- and Pope Francis recently spoke out specifically against payday lending.
Read the Bemidji Pioneer letter here.