Payday loans are 'sinful,' say most Christians, according to poll

(Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett)A payday loan sign is seen in the window of Speedy Cash in northwest London November 25, 2013.

Majority of Christians think payday loans are sinful and want laws to include regulation of such loans, a new poll has found.

Based on a February survey conducted by the Nashville Christian group LifeWay Research, 77 percent of 1,000 self-identifying Christians in 30 states think loaning money in a way that is financially harmful to the borrower is sinful. More than 80 percent of the respondents are also in favor of implementing laws that will regulate payday loans, Religion News reports.

In addition, less than 10 percent of Christians use the Bible as the basis of their belief on lending money. However, 17 percent of the subjects admitted that they have taken payday loans.

Few (11 percent) of the subjects think payday loans are immoral, and 16 percent even think such loans are helpful, The Baptist Standard relays.

Meanwhile, 55 percent of Christians say loans should have a maximum annual percentage rate (APR) of 18 percent or less. Five percent of the respondents say the maximum APR should be at 36 percent.

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Barrett Duke, the vice president for policy of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has released his comments on the findings of the LifeWay study. He said payday loans are unethical and unbiblical.

"Payday loans with their exorbitant interest rates operate far outside of what is ethical or biblical," said Duke.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau says the interest rate of payday loans can reach 400 percent APR in two weeks. Such loans have previously been targeted by Christian groups for their very high interest rates. Earlier this year, Catholics and evangelicals in Iowa filed a measure with the state's House of Representatives to outlaw payday loans.

The LifeWay Research's poll on payday loans was conducted from Feb. 5 to 17. The study was sponsored by Faith for Just Lending, a group made up of faith leaders who are against predatory loans.