Predatory Payday Lending Symposium

November 11, 2015

This November, Kuyper College’s Business Leadership program addressed a new issue to some, at the Predatory Payday Lending Symposium held at Kuyper’s campus, which was Co-hosted by the Center for Public Justice (CPJ) Symposium.   The symposium focused on a new modern example of slavery—unending debt.

According to Marc Andreas, Assistant Professor and Program Director of Business Leadership at Kuyper, predatory short-term loans to be repaid by the borrower’s next paycheck are offered at “payday loan or cash stores” to low-income people in desperate financial situations. As was revealed during the symposium, the average Michigan payday loan carries an interest rate around 390%.  With rates like that, people who use such stores during times of financial struggle, find themselves in what Andreas calls “a repeat cycle of debt,” often returning to the store several times for more loans.

In addressing this injustice, the symposium afternoon and evening sessions featured presentations from Katie Thompson and Stephanie Summers of CPJ, and authors of the new book, Unleashing Opportunity: Why Escaping Poverty Requires a Shared Vision of Justice, a panel discussion featuring experts in this area, and a panel of current Kuyper Business Leadership students, who shared the insights they’d gained while conducting research on the subject. The research paper they presented included information on actual visits to pay lending stores.

The keynote speaker Rev. Dallas Lenear, Co-Founder of Genesis Consulting, shared spoke about payday lending practices and its unjust hold on the borrowers.  Another panel discussion followed his address. It discussed alternatives to “payday lending loans” offered by organizations such as the Inner City Christian Federation’s local pilot program, Just Loans, and suggestions for those operating and involved in church benevolent funds.

Involved panelists throughout the day included Rev. Dallas Lenear, as well as Jordan Bruxvoort of The Micah Center, Dan Carter of Calvary on 8th in Holland, Sue Ortiz of the Inner City Christian Federation, and Katie Thompson and Stephanie Summers of the Center for Public Justice.

Ultimately, this event was designed to inspire Christians to work against this vicious practice by providing biblically based alternative programs.  Reflecting on the success of the Symposium, Marc Andreas said: “Kuyper’s students have hearts for the oppressed, yet are learning how to avoid financial pitfalls while offering help to those in need.”