Banking and Our Values
Why this resolution is relevant:
bilblical teachings, justice, stewardship
resolution is relevant from at least three perspectives:
- biblical teachings
- good stewardship
1. Biblical prohibition of usury and unfair
Bible has many passages that prohibit loans with interest and usury, the
practice of overcharging borrowers.
22:25-27 -- 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. If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, return it by
sunset, because that cloak is the only covering your neighbor has. What
else can they
sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.
25:36-37 -- Do not take interest or any profit from them,
but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. You must
not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.
19-20 -- You shall not charge interest to your
countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at
passages include Nehemiah 5:10, Psalm 15:5, Proverbs 28:8, and Ezekiel 22:12.
writers also repeatedly prohibit unfair or deceitful business practices.
19:36 -- You shall have honest balances,
honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who
brought you out of the land of Egypt. (A hin is one gallon, an ephah is about
2:1-3a -- Alas for those who devise wickedness and evil deeds on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it
is in their power. They covet fields, and seize them; houses, and take them away; they oppress
householder and house, people and their inheritance. What will you
do on the day of punishment?
Isaiah 10:1-2 -- Ah,
you who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes,
to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their
right, that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans your
Micah 6:9a, 11 -- The voice of the Lord cries to the city (it is sound
wisdom to fear your name):
Can I tolerate wicked scales and a bag of dishonest weights?
-- Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring
to ruin the poor of the land, saying, "When will the new moon be over so
that we may sell grain; and the
sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah
the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the
poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the
sweepings of the wheat."
2. Unjust banking practices (for more information, see the Additional Information and Resources webpage)
Millions of people are suffering from the unethical and fraudulent practices of the banking industry.
- High interest rates – Millions of people pay interest rates as high
as 30% on credit card debt and 365% on payday loans. (These are the
interest rates over a 12-month period.) While large international and
national banks tend to conceal their involvement with the companies that
make payday and other extremely high interest loans, many of them own,
invest in, or are otherwise involved with these firms and benefit from
- High overdraft fees – Many of the major banks charge high fees and
may manipulate the customers’ accounts to maximize fees, such as for
overdrafts. Americans paid more than $38 billion to banks in overdraft
fees in 2009, $125 for every U.S. resident.
- Foreclosures - Inefficient and ineffective banking practices
regarding home foreclosures adversely affected both current home owners
and those attempting to purchase homes that had been foreclosed upon.
Some mortgage institutions use a process that has been called
“robo-signing” where documents are machine signed in bulk without
appropriate scrutiny or oversight.
- Discrimination in lending practices – Some mortgage companies
steered minority borrowers towards higher cost subprime mortgages.
stewardship means using financial institutions that offer the best value
a practice of good stewardship, congregations can shop around to find the best
and least expensive banking services. Congregations can often reduce the fees they
pay to banks by treating their banking relationships in the same way they treat
relationships with other merchants, by periodically shopping for lower costs
for similar or better service.