Preachers Leave Pulpit to Talk Payday Loans

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JEFFERSON CITY - Faith leaders lobbied at the Missouri State Capitol Tuesday to express their concerns with payday loans.

Metropolitan Congregations United, or MCU, is one of 75 organizations that spoke in Jefferson City. MCU says the outrageous 444 percent annual percentage rate (APR) on some loans exploits vulnerable people in the state.

MCU wants to place a cap on all payday loans. The organization seeks to cap the APR at 36 percent. MCU's payday loans proposal is drawing support from legislation.

"This is something we need to do for our community," said Democratic State Representative Mary Still.

"If 36 percent is good enough for the FDIC and to protect military families, then it should be good enough for the hard-working families of Missouri, too," added Still.

Republican Senator John Lamping of St. Louis thinks otherwise. Lamping sponsors Senate Bill 476 and said MCU's plan will kill the payday loan industry.

"When you put a cap on payday loads, that industry is gone," explained Lamping.

"Senate Bill 476 reforms the industry rather than eliminating the whole thing," Lamping added.

MCU traveled to Jefferson City from St. Louis after a Texas law firm sent a letter to the group. MCU said the letter incorrectly claimed that congregations might lose their tax exempt status if they advocated for payday loan legislation.

"We're letting companies know they can't bully us around," said Father Rich Creason.

Creason represents MCU and he says it's immoral to do this to the community.

"The fact that an out of state law firm spent so much money to send out all these letters must mean the opposition is scared. Their letters were fuel for our fire. And we're going to win," Creason explained.