Public Justice Review (PJR) explores in depth specific questions of public justice, equipping citizens to pursue God's good purpose for our political community. 

Vol. 9, Issue 5

Predatory Payday Lending: A Public Justice Problem

8. Predatory Payday Lending: A Comprehensive & Faithful Response

Stephen Reeves

In the mid-1990s, a new industry emerged offering relatively small loans at excessively high interest rates to borrowers struggling to make ends meet. Today, this industry sells the idea that payday and auto title loans can be a short-term fix for immediate emergency needs. In reality, these loans can result in long-term debt, and are regularly used to pay recurring expenses. The high cost of these loans routinely leads to a series of repeat borrowing or a cycle of paying only fees and interest without reducing the amount owed.

According to the Center for Public Justice (CPJ), “the principle of public justice recognizes that much of what contributes to human flourishing is not government’s task.” It also recognizes that “much of what contributes to human flourishing is government’s task. Government is authorized by God to promote what is good for human flourishing. This is often referred to as securing the common good–promoting the well-being of an entire society in right relationship with the larger world that God made.” To effectively make this a reality, Christian citizens, people of different faiths and of no faith background must work towards and advocate for legislative change on the local and national level.

In this final article of the Predatory Payday Lending series, Contributing Editor, Stephen Reeves outlines how the predatory payday lending industry grew in a time of declining morals, how people of faith and faith-based organizations responded, the responsibility of the government in relation to the issue, and what work remains ahead to help people flourish, promote public justice, and combat predatory payday lending.