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February 16, 2008 6:05 PM   Subscribe

A University of Utah study finds there's a geographical correlation between payday lenders and the Christian Right. Consumerist has another summary that includes the maps, so you don't have to use Google Maps to view them.
posted by Kirth Gerson (80 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
It’s sad that states with a pious and honorable religious heritage now disproportionately host predatory lenders.

SCIENCE!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:08 PM on February 16, 2008


It’s sad that states with a pious and honorable religious heritage now disproportionately host predatory lenders.

They can't be talking about the Christian Right, it says "honorable".
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:10 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is kind of idiotic. They're attempting to argue that Christian political influence (not Christianity) leads to the proliferation of payday lending. Now look at Georgia, firmly nestled in the Bible Belt, where payday lending is....illegal! The rest of the map looks like both Christianity and payday lenders thrive in those states that happen to have a lot of people. I encourage the authors to uncover the horrifying relationship between ice cream sales and crime.
posted by Nahum Tate at 6:18 PM on February 16, 2008 [4 favorites]


"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."
posted by HuronBob at 6:20 PM on February 16, 2008


Evangelical Christians prey on stupid people.

Payday lenders prey on stupid people.

So, it's kind of like a watering hole on the savanna. I'm sure if we dropped off a load of big-ass, man-eating lions near every Hardees, Stuckeys and Waffle House, we'd have a lot of other predator-prey activities going on, too.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:23 PM on February 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


Any which way, people who run payday loan joints would be first up against the fucking wall in my revolution.

(and the entire city of Wilmington, Delaware - home of most credit cards - would be second.)
posted by notsnot at 6:23 PM on February 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


I read a very interesting book about the moment the Catholic Church ruled that usury was not against Christian teachings. The ruling predated The Reformation, but Martin Luther didn't change it back. It's why some "heresies" of the middle ages called out the money changers themselves and were called radical and un-Christian by Catholic militants and later Protestants. I'll find the book.
posted by parmanparman at 6:26 PM on February 16, 2008


Poor people are often the victims of both religious and financial predators. (So are stupid people.) And conservatives generally side with corporations against human beings (as long as the human beings aren't the conservatives).

You do the math.
posted by DU at 6:31 PM on February 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm confused. We care about poor people, but we hate Christians. As it turns out, though, poor people are disproportionately Christian.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:31 PM on February 16, 2008 [6 favorites]


I haven't read the study, so take this for what it's worth, but isn't the real correlation here poverty? The Bible Belt is full of states with high poverty rates, and poor people make up the bulk of payday lenders' "customers."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:33 PM on February 16, 2008


From the post, people:

And it's not a side effect of a poor population that happens to be Christian, according to the authors: "Our research showed that the correlation between payday lenders and the political power of conservative Christians was stronger than the correlation between payday lenders and the proportion of a population living below the poverty line."
RTFA
posted by Rumple at 6:41 PM on February 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


It would have been nice if they'd at least tried to see if other things correlate as well, like poverty or the presence of military establishments. Because the presence of military establishments definitely correlates to payday lenders, there was a DoD report out about it last year. Maybe we can sneeringly mock them too.
posted by XMLicious at 6:43 PM on February 16, 2008


From the paper: "Figure A, contrasts the growth in payday lending outlets to the growth in Starbuck’s coffee shops."

The rest of it is this stupid. They note that lending (per capita) is also higher in poorer and non-white areas, but then they make no attempt to control for that.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:43 PM on February 16, 2008


Rumple: is the political power of conservative Christians measured by the levels of Christian-colored politicon particles or something? A statement like that is a little bit open to bias.
posted by XMLicious at 6:45 PM on February 16, 2008


Rumple: there are these things called multivariate statistics. Because %Evangelical correlates with a high coefficient than %nonwhite or %poverty does not mean that the latter do not explain most or all of the effect.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:46 PM on February 16, 2008


Actually, in retrospect I'm going to try to include a plot of x vs growth of starbucks coffee shops in as many papers as I can.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:50 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


XML: I really don't know, but the article does address the poverty versus Christianity thing which people were implying was an obvious deficiency, indeed they even offer a plausible suggestion as to why it might be correlated. Their coding does seem a bit odd to me, with Washington State, for example, being relatively Christianic, which has never been my impression of the place. I bet there's a lot of I'm sure there is a buttload of crap in this study but its also clear people didn't read the article.

robot: I bow to your superior analysis of a flimsy news item.
posted by Rumple at 6:50 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


The whole post is clearly pointless MetaBait, really. Anyone for a decaf?
posted by Rumple at 6:52 PM on February 16, 2008


I'm sure if we dropped off a load of big-ass, man-eating lions near every Hardees, Stuckeys and Waffle House, we'd have a lot of other predator-prey activities going on, too.

A lot of dead big-ass man-eating lions is what we would have.
posted by mlis at 6:54 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Evangelical Christians prey on stupid people.

No, Evangelical Christians prey on all sorts of people, lonely, dispossessed, depressed, rich, smart, stupid, metafilter members...

Payday lenders prey on the poor only.
posted by mattoxic at 7:05 PM on February 16, 2008


The actual law review article can be found here. At best, it has found an interesting correlation. For me, the most revealing sentence in the article comes near the end: "Our data merely report a simple—but nonetheless important—geographic fact: there tend to be more payday lender locations in areas where conservative Christians live and control government. We leave it to others to explain why this relationship exists." The authors are quite explicit at admitting that their analysis of causation is weak to non-existent. However, I did find it interesting that payday lenders had a higher correlation (as measured with Spearman's R) with the presence of evangelical Christians than with either the prevalence of poverty or nonwhites. This doesn't control for race or poverty, but it's still an odd finding that needs to be explained. The authors have an interesting empirical finding, but they finished their work at the time when real, sustained analysis should have been just getting started.

However, even if there is no causal connection between Christian evangelicals and payday lenders, the authors' discussion of the history of prohibitions against usury in the Christian tradition raises an interesting question. Even if we can prove no causal connection whatsoever between evangelicals and payday lenders, that still brushes aside the question of whether evangelicals and other people in the Christian tradition have a moral obligation to oppose usurious lenders, even though they might not have caused those lenders to be in business in the first place.
posted by jonp72 at 7:05 PM on February 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


Since there are probably people who can't download from SSRN, Fig A
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:08 PM on February 16, 2008


Mmm I like waffle house.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:17 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've heard nothing but good things about waffle house, but there isn't one near me!
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:31 PM on February 16, 2008


I ate at Waffle House yesterday. I had eggs, bacon, and hash browns scattered smothered and covered. The waitress called me "honey". It was quite pleasant. It's across the street from a check-cashing place, now that I think of it.

There's an interesting schism happening in evangelical churches, and it's getting played out in studies like this one. Just getting issues like this on the table and in the discussion in evangelical churches is a step forward.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:46 PM on February 16, 2008


They can't be talking about the Christian Right, it says "honorable".

Evangelical Christians prey on stupid people.

Evangelical Christians prey on all sorts of people, lonely, dispossessed, depressed, rich, smart, stupid, metafilter members...


The irony of these bigoted comments is truly, well, ironical. Surely anything good reported on Christians just can't be true. I'd like to agree with this. The Metafilter chip in my brain demands I do so.
posted by Avenger50 at 7:50 PM on February 16, 2008


i have proof that the growth in the payday loan business is due to lack of pirates
posted by pyramid termite at 7:55 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


This pull quote is interesting:

Peterson, who also holds an appointment at the University of Florida, Fredric G. Levin College of Law, said he believes part of the explanation for their findings lies in politics. "When the Christian Right allied itself with conservative Wall Street business interests in the 1980s and early '90s, consumer protection law was placed to the side as an inconvenient sticking point. The laws allowing an astonishing number of triple-digit-interest-rate lenders throughout most of the Christian South and Mormon West are a legacy of that political alliance.
posted by mecran01 at 7:59 PM on February 16, 2008


Christianity traditionally outlawed usury (charging interest for a loan) for exactly the reason Payday loans are considered unsavory today, they "dispoil and deprive poor men of their goods," as a 12th century theologian wrote of usuries. However, I find the correlation map unconvincing of moral backsliding in American Christians, rather, evidence things have not changed much from the Middle Ages. This paragraph in the Wikipedia article on Magna Carta is a good example of how usury operated when it was "illegal". If people want it, they will find a way, much to the chagrin of the moral authorities (be they 12th century Catholic theologians or 21st century secular liberals).
posted by stbalbach at 8:11 PM on February 16, 2008


You can sum up the correlation in three words: "Sheep get fleeced."
posted by SpecialK at 8:23 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a geographer, I'd call this correlation an ecological fallacy. But kind of amusing...
posted by patrickburns at 8:29 PM on February 16, 2008


Whether taking out a payday loan is a good idea is complicated. It depends on the cost of alternative funding, the cost (including opportunity cost) of forgoing funding altogether, the likelihood of being able to repay the loan, and the cost of not being able to repay the loan.

Basically, it involves all of the same calculations that any individual or company makes when deciding whether to borrow.

I guess one can say that poor people are just too stupid to figure out whether they would be better off making a certain borrowing, and they should consequently be denied credit altogether, but this does seem a little paternalistic.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:30 PM on February 16, 2008


The irony of these bigoted comments is truly, well, ironical. Surely anything good reported on Christians just can't be true. I'd like to agree with this. The Metafilter chip in my brain demands I do so.

Christians, no. The Christian Right- a subset of the larger set "Christians" which is pretty much full of fail and asshole, yes.

Alternate response: Fuck you, that is clearly not what I was saying.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:59 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


there are an assload of these places here in L.A., or as I like to call it, Evangelical Christian national Headquarters.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:06 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


but we hate Christians hypocrites.
posted by davejay at 9:17 PM on February 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Payday lenders prey on the poor only.

Then, apparently none of the poor can do simple math. Maybe we should be going after the teachers in these states, instead...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:23 PM on February 16, 2008


Correlation does not imply causation.

That said, not surprised. Poorer areas of the country instill the right level of desperation to allow evangelical brands of Christianity to flourish.
posted by mazatec at 9:25 PM on February 16, 2008


Then, apparently none of the poor can do simple math. Maybe we should be going after the teachers in these states, instead...

It doesn't matter if you can do calculus when your kids are hungry and you have ten dollars to last until the next paycheck comes. Which you'll be cashing, for a fee, at the grocery store, since you never have enough money to get a bank account. But hey, here's someone who'll give you money ahead of time, and all they want is more than you can afford. So your choice is: nobody eats now, or everybody eats now and you pay for it later.

That is not even a little bit of a hard decision for most people, and part of what makes this society so goddamn sick is the fact that the best option is so often, from a long-term perspective, the wrong one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:38 PM on February 16, 2008 [5 favorites]


Though this observation has been made before, it bears repeating: if the Blue were to heap universal/mostly irrational scorn on Catholics or Muslims or Jews or Athiests, all hell would break loose. (Or it should, rather.) There's enough evil-doing to go around. It doesn't all belong to Christ-followers.
posted by heathergirl at 9:42 PM on February 16, 2008


Sometimes a payday lender is the only option a poor person has for getting extra cash when they have an unexpected expense. No real bank is going to loan money to a person with a low income and no collateral. The payday lenders take advantage of that fact (and the laws in most states allow them to do so). Before payday lenders got so popular, the other option was the pawn shop, which charges usurious rates to get your stuff back, but at least you only lose your TV (or stereo, or Xbox, etc.) when you can't pay back the loan.
posted by amyms at 9:44 PM on February 16, 2008


Don't forget about tithing.
posted by Brian B. at 9:44 PM on February 16, 2008


Evangelical Christians prey on are stupid people.

FTFY.

Now, the obvious correlation is low education and poverty. The question is why being an EC makes you ignorant and poor.

/social scientist and anti-evangelical bigot, over and out.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:49 PM on February 16, 2008


PS -- How can you be a bigot with respect to a choice people make, not an inherent quality people possess? Well, OK, stupidity is an inherent quality. But being an evangelical Christian is a choice, like being a predatory lender. Are we bigoted against predatory lenders if we call them assholes? Why should it be bigotry when we point out the predatory and bigoted ways people choose to act in the name of "God?"
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:51 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


PPS -- STOP TITHING and pay your bills.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:52 PM on February 16, 2008


since you never have enough money to get a bank account

Then we'll have to both teach them math and how to open a free checking account, with no monthly fees and no minimum balances required.

I'm sure Washington Mutual isn't the only bank doing this, but it's the first one I thought of because I can't. escape. the. advertising.

But never mind. No one, and I mean no one, is ever poor because of their own bad choices.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:55 PM on February 16, 2008


The question is why being an EC makes you ignorant and poor.

I'd turn that on its head and ask why being ignorant and poor drives many toward the EC?

This was all covered in What's the Matter With Kansas?, by the way.

According to his analysis, the political discourse of recent decades has dramatically shifted from the class animus of traditional leftism to one in which "explosive" cultural issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, are used to redirect anger towards "liberal elites."

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:59 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


This was all covered in What's the Matter With Kansas?, by the way.

I'm a native Kansan (lived here all my life except for a 7-year stint in Colorado in the late 80s/early 90s). I and many others are valiantly trying to let the outside world know that we're not all ECs and right-wingers.
posted by amyms at 10:03 PM on February 16, 2008


Alternate response: Fuck you, that is clearly not what I was saying.

As usual, your method of argument one ups me in every respect. The chip in my brain is saying to favorite you now.
posted by Avenger50 at 10:06 PM on February 16, 2008 [3 favorites]


Then we'll have to both teach them math and how to open a free checking account, with no monthly fees and no minimum balances required.

Which they'll put all that money that they're not making in.

But never mind. No one, and I mean no one, is ever poor because of their own bad choices.

Poor-hating jerk offloads blame from corrupt society to its victims, news at eleven.

As usual, your method of argument one ups me in every respect. The chip in my brain is saying to favorite you now.

I offered you a reasonable response and a response that was of the same quality as yours, and you have decided to acknowledge only the one that was of the same quality as yours. This is why I tend to be vitriolic in discussions like this: because assholes only care about civility when it serves to prevent their claims and arguments from being called what they really are.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:56 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Or better yet, here, let me be nice and "civil" and sweet to you. Never mind that you picked out three people's statements and deliberately misrepresented them in order to make yourself feel good about being better than those of us who are actually participating, calling a name ("bigot") that is in this case calculated to make the oh-so-liberal members of MeFi upset (because good god, there are few epithets that rile up liberals like "bigot"), that's all okay. No, no, it's me being upset with you for namecalling that's out of bounds. As long as you're "civil", you can say any horrible, dishonest thing you want to say, and you're perfectly fine.

Bullshit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:04 PM on February 16, 2008


You know Avenger, the Christian right would probably get a lot more respect if they hadn't spent the last 30 years doing their level best to drag the Overton window to hell and gone. Consider the purity whatever the hell it was FPP of the other day. As I said their, adolescents probably ought not be having sex. But they can't leave it at that. They have to make up a bunch of lies because, somehow, teenage pregnancy and syphilus aren't bad enough on their own, and then insert some "kids are encouraged to experiment with alternative lifestyle" bullshit and then wonder why they're being mocked.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:07 PM on February 16, 2008


Their coding does seem a bit odd to me, with Washington State, for example, being relatively Christianic, which has never been my impression of the place.

Well, Huckabee did almost win the caucus. Or maybe he did....

But anyway, I'm a little unclear as to how this "power index" is computed. Arkansas is as Southern Baptist as they come, and they're not considered "powerful?" Ditto North Carolina, where I still believe some of TBN's programming comes out of and a bunch of Christian ministries are based in Charlotte?

And now I'm actually looking at the data... Georgia is ranked SEVENTH in their "Christian power index" -- why is it shown on the map as if it's at the bottom?

The Google map overlay is very, very wrong.
posted by dw at 11:28 PM on February 16, 2008


You know Avenger, the Christian right would probably get a lot more respect if they hadn't spent the last 30 years doing their level best to drag the Overton window to hell and gone.

I completely agree. Although, again, I'd like to point out that I'm a completely different person than the crypto-conservative "Avenger50". It kinda sucks having a doppleganger around with views completely opposite of your own.

As for the article, methinks there are some other correlations going on than just Christian = Payday loaner. When you're talking about economics, religion and class, you quickly discover that all three of those categories are closely linked and very difficult to unravel.
posted by Avenger at 11:40 PM on February 16, 2008


Poor-hating jerk offloads blame from corrupt society to its victims, news at eleven.

You're really too much. You want to complain about instances where you feel people were "deliberately misrepresented," but you also feel comfortable calling someone a "poor-hating jerk" when they suggest that poor choices are responsible for at least some poverty.

Or maybe any opinion that doesn't perfectly support your overarching narrative of class conflict is just "hatred" to you. That's a rather convenient way to dismiss people who don't agree with you, it seems to me.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:43 PM on February 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just e-mailed the researcher to question the map color coding. But now that I'm teasing it apart with the data:

The top five states for payday loan use are ranked 1, 2, 6, 13, and 14 in their "Christian Power Index."

However, it starts to break down when you're looking at the rest of the top ten:

CPI     # of lenders - nat'l ranking
3       28
4       13
5       23
7       21
8t      34
8t      27
10      40

The more I look at the data, the more I think correlation != causation.
posted by dw at 11:46 PM on February 16, 2008


It seems unlikely that there is a ticket charge for an evangelical event, so if a poor person can ignore the ushers with collections hats, boxes or baskets, he gets free entertainment.
posted by Cranberry at 1:18 AM on February 17, 2008


the solution is easy: the Pentagon has obtained special rules (ie, an interest cap) for its employees. evangelical churches should obtain one for their supporters, too.

then the only poor people being scammed will be the non-evangelicals who are not in the military.

but then, if one cannot figure out that a 780% interest on a small loan will very likely not help them but exacerbate their problems instead, well, if they cannot figure that out they're kind of beyond helping anyway, so borrow away and -- ah the irony -- pray you can repay that
posted by matteo at 3:31 AM on February 17, 2008


"Ironical" ?
posted by genghis at 4:26 AM on February 17, 2008


Avenger50 writes "The irony of these bigoted comments is truly, well, ironical. Surely anything good reported on Christians just can't be true. I'd like to agree with this. The Metafilter chip in my brain demands I do so."

Surely anything good reported on Metafilter members just can't be true. You'd like to agree with that. The hypocrite chip in your brain demands you do so.
posted by elpapacito at 5:44 AM on February 17, 2008


Maybe they think the rapture will come before it's time to payback the loan, or maybe Jesus will take the wheel.
posted by furtive at 5:53 AM on February 17, 2008


Mr President Dr Steve:
That's a rather convenient way to dismiss people who don't agree with you, it seems to me.

Is there a logical fallacy called "dismissing dismissal by being dismissive"?
posted by notsnot at 6:10 AM on February 17, 2008


While I'll take my time to read the study, there is certainly one point worth immediately noting : isn't it curious that such usurary practices were and are allowed to proliferate in regions in which there is a strong political influence of alleged Christians? Yet I have little doubt that the local populations were bought with a whole lotta religious words and praying and "forgot" to check if pious actions followed pious words. They called them sunday pretending christians I guess ?
posted by elpapacito at 6:11 AM on February 17, 2008


Cool Papa Bell, the problem is that often there are no banks in poor neighborhoods. Here's an article about banks leaving and payday lenders filling the gap.

No information on the religious profile of the neighborhoods he studied.
posted by nax at 7:01 AM on February 17, 2008


the problem is that often there are no banks in poor neighborhoods

I saw it first-hand when I first moved to Seattle -- there just weren't a lot of banks in the Rainier Valley, not like there were in other parts of the city. There had been banks, but many had pulled out years ago due to the crime and a lack of business customers. What replaced them was these payday loan places.

I would conjecture that the Rainier Valley is the most religious part of areligious Seattle just from the many storefront COGICs. It's also where most of the city's Buddhist temples are, though that's probably not as relevant to this study.

Payday loan places in Seattle have been proliferating in working class and middle class neighborhoods and suburbs. At the same time, attendance at religious services in Seattle has been flat, if not falling. If there were coorelation, you'd see more people going to church, not less.
posted by dw at 8:43 AM on February 17, 2008


On the one hand, most Americans are naturally skeptical of government regulation of open markets. On the other hand, very few Americans doubt the wisdom of banning, or at least aggressively regulating, public commerce in some especially dangerous products recreational narcotics, child pornography, and weapons grade plutonium are all
uncontroversial examples.
Pretty much hitting the nail of the head, pointing out that some scandal is popularly understood as such, some other isn't, but maybe should. Mhhhhhhh ...I wonder ....what kind of scandal shouldn't I talk too much about....mhhhh..there's plenty of shit to talk about, let's conveniently forget one that sides with my interest :-) !
Starbucks’ growth is thus a good yardstick against which to measure payday lending because that growth has been so widely heralded. One commentator called Starbucks rise to prominence “[n]ot unlike the cultural blitz of personal computing.”103 Many believe that Starbucks was the most explosively successful American retail company in the second half of the twentieth century. Still, this growth pales in comparison to the growth of payday lending outlets in the wake of slackening usury limits. By 2005 the seemingly ubiquitous 8569 Starbucks locations were dwarfed by an estimated 22,000 payday loan outlets. Once usury laws were lifted, payday lenders poured into American neighborhoods like water over a breached dam.
Obviously they are NOT saying that Starbucks causes usury, that's what people that DO NOT read the text may say. The authros are comparing GROWTH rate...if Starbucks growth rate is a sign of its gaining foothold and obtaining success, we may advance that the sudden increase of payday lender growth, after some opposing laws were removed , is at least signaling a strong interest in offering this kind of service, an interest that I have no doubt will be traced by some to an immense, suddend miracolous growth in generosity and will to lend at rates LOWER than the ones prohibited by the repelled laws....as if they couldn't have lent at lower rates when the law were enforced.

Sure, and you know what is also sure ? That OJ is innocent.
posted by elpapacito at 9:33 AM on February 17, 2008


Our data merely report a simple—but nonetheless important—geographic fact: there tend to be more payday lender locations in areas where conservative Christians live and control government. We leave it to others to explain why this relationship exists. Nevertheless, we believe one causal observation is plain from our data.Irrespective of the religious tendencies, it is clear states that continue to impose and aggressively enforce traditional American usury law do not have significant payday lending industries. Thus, one necessary but not sufficient causal explanation of the correlation between payday lender density and conservative Christian political power is legal: most conservative Christian states have abandoned their traditional usury limits. Indeed of the fifteen states ranking highest on our measure of conservative Christian political power, fourteen have legislation explicitly authorizing payday lending. Two of these states have no usury limit whatsoever149 and the remaining thirteen have crafted arguably misleading statutes that authorize interest rates of over 350 percent.
posted by elpapacito at 10:00 AM on February 17, 2008


Tangent...

Grassley's tax probe draws wrath of televangelists
posted by jaronson at 10:32 AM on February 17, 2008


For the average Christian, there are too many children and too much tithing to be able to keep up appearances. The last part is most significant. Christianity began as an agrarian cult of seeded prosperity and rebirth, beginning with Osiris it seems. Fast forward to now, factoring in the invention of money, and the open secret to Christianity is it is a blatant form of idolatry. Not only do most believers pay money to a corrupt church to get blessings, and as a form of salvation insurance, but they even expect more in return, and so this fuels a dangerous mindset. Borrowing money is the direct result if one's outward display of wealth signifies God's blessing upon them. We would like to think they are struggling to pay their heating bills, but heat is not a luxury to them, and so we're often talking about being able to make the payments on a newer truck.
posted by Brian B. at 11:16 AM on February 17, 2008


I'm waiting for some EC to encourage members to donate their property to the church to avoid property taxes, but with the members continuing to occupy and have authority over the property. You could also evade all kinds of anti-discrimination in housing stuff too, I'd think, not to mention the benefits they'd get from cutting off secular government at its very source. With just the right protections in the donation agreement, it could almost be a win-win.

Must be laws making it too hard, or we'd see it everywhere already, I guess.
posted by jamjam at 11:45 AM on February 17, 2008


Correlation is not causation.
posted by konolia at 12:09 PM on February 17, 2008


Correlation is not necessarily causation.

And clearly, having the Christian Right in a State does not correlate with entrenched Christian social values. But it does correlate with having entrenched values of the Right. So make of that what you may.

And, thanks for actually reading and summarizing the article, elpapacito.
posted by Rumple at 1:14 PM on February 17, 2008


Rumple writes "And, thanks for actually reading and summarizing the article, elpapacito."

My pleasure
posted by elpapacito at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2008



Jamjam, I think some fundamentalist Mormons do that as do some other cults. Didn't turn out so well for the fundamentalist Mormons whose leader is now in prison for arranging child marriages.
posted by Maias at 5:02 PM on February 17, 2008


Payday Lenders in Peoria
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:17 PM on February 17, 2008


In Soviet Russia, Christ drove the money changers from the temple.

"Sometimes a payday lender is the only option a poor person has for getting extra cash when they have an unexpected expense." posted by amyms

Certainly true. All the more reason to stop the exploitation.

Tangentially, I'm curious if cheating a non"x-ian" is part of the psychology here. Certainly that is not limited to Christians or Conservatives and seems endemic to humanity. But far more so to any more insular group that considers itself at odds with the greater society. That does describe christian conservatives who self-avow themselves as an oppressed group, and that is played to in the media, Bill O'Reilly's Christmas under attack and so on. But my thinking is more general.

There is prescedent for mistreatment of other religious and non-religious and ethnic groups economically.
One only consider Shylock in Shakespeare. Jews in the middle ages in Christian kingdoms.
There are many ethnic groups, perhaps over 5,000, living in only 190 countries.
Some of this follows the same self-reciprocating pattern as religious friction - there is assertion of some kind, in the case of conservative christians evangelizing perhaps, and feelings of harrassment, which in turn leads to greater insularity and perhaps even more aggressive assertion.
This may be a sublimated form of that. Whether there is correlation to any particularly group or not. One does not cheat someone that one feels empathy for.
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 6:31 PM on February 17, 2008


dw writes "North Carolina, where I still believe some of TBN's programming comes out of"

While living in NC, I had a hockey game preempted by a 6-h fundraiser for Pat Robertson. No local channels played the game. I was pissed. Even stupider, this was for a game featuring the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Carolina Hurricanes, based in Raleigh, NC. It was more important to have a filthy rich hypocrite fundie pleading for Dollars for Jesus than it was to sell advertising time for a home-team sporting event? (Although if it were a NASCAR race, I'm sure it would have been aired...)

furtive writes "Maybe they think the rapture will come before it's time to payback the loan"

Guy who cuts my hair insists that the rapture is going to be here real soon. The upcoming elections, specifically, are his target date for Jesus coming to get him. He won't accept credit cards because he's afraid of being branded by the Number of the Beast or something equally weird. At any rate, he gives a good haircut, so I don't complain too much.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:41 AM on February 18, 2008


I'd turn that on its head and ask why being ignorant and poor drives many toward the EC?

Now that I re-read, I assume you're being sarcastic, but I already started ... When you're getting shit on in this life, with very little hope of ever not being shit on in this life, wouldn't you be interested in a magical group that gave you superpowers in the next life? That's the poor part. The ignorant part is believing all of the aspects of a religion that defy common sense or scientific research.

Also, there's the "E" part of the EC, which I assume means "evangelical." Some of these people *do very good things for poor people,* while proselytizing their beliefs. If you're poor, hungry, and sick, and someone gives you money, food, and medicine, wouldn't you be inclined to listen to what they had to say, *especially* if they repeated it over and over and over and over and over?

1. Poor: The desire to triumph over the shitbags who make more money than you and have sex with beautiful women, i.e. you're exalted in God's right hand (heaven) and they're burning with the greatest pain possible (hell).

2. Ignorant: You don't "get" evolution, or haven't figured out that "alternative" familes have the same problems and successes as traditional ones, etc.

From the (likely laughable) "study": The natural hypothesis would be to assume that given Biblical condemnation of usury there would be aggressive regulation and less demand for payday loans in these states

That was enough funny for me. I stopped there.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:43 AM on February 18, 2008


When you're getting shit on in this life, with very little hope of ever not being shit on in this life, wouldn't you be interested in a magical group that gave you superpowers in the next life?

Actually, I wasn't sarcastic, and no, I wouldn't be interested, because I don't believe in magical sky gods. What is it about the very particular American nature of poverty that drives people into the arms of the "prosperity gospel," despite a tremendous popular entertainment and news media that purportedly subverts everything about that teaching?

I happen to think it starts with the model of primary and secondary education in this country that relieves people of their ability to make definitive judgments of right, wrong, sane and insane.

The poor are often stupid. Because we made them that way.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:57 PM on February 18, 2008


In our own image ...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:41 PM on February 18, 2008


I e-mailed one of the researchers about whether there was an error in the data or not. Turns out I was right... about the Excel file. They'd left the Mormon data out.

Thanks again for pointing out that error. Several states were shifted around on the Christian Power Index, especially Utah....which is going to happen if you leave Mormons off the list of Christian Political Power.

I hope that's the only mistake. These databases took over two years to compile (and recompile multiple times). Occasionally one of the older datasets tries to sneak back into the mix. Glad you caught this one.


Of course, still doesn't explain why the colors of the Google layer are so off (Georgia is #10 but still colored as if it's in the bottom half?)
posted by dw at 7:40 AM on February 19, 2008


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