guilt folders

Payday loans and churches: RNS delivers a fascinating trend piece with a familiar byline

Payday loans and churches: RNS delivers a fascinating trend piece with a familiar byline

Several months ago, the Washington Post wrote about a debate over payday lending unfolding in the black church.

The Post described how African-American congregations had “become an unexpected battleground in the national debate over the future of payday lending.”

Unfortunately, I don’t think we ever ended up commenting on that piece here at GetReligion. It ended up in what we call our “guilt folders” — those stories we'd like to mention but for whatever reason never get around to.

But today offered a perfect excuse to bring up that past report: Religion News Service published a fascinating trend piece on churches nationwide using political pressure and small-dollar loans to fight predatory payday lending.

The compelling lede:

(RNS) — Anyra Cano Valencia was having dinner with her husband, Carlos, and their family when an urgent knock came at their door.

The Valencias, pastors at Iglesia Bautista Victoria en Cristo in Fort Worth, Texas, opened the door to a desperate, overwhelmed congregant.

The woman and her family had borrowed $300 from a “money store” specializing in short-term, high-interest loans. Unable to repay quickly, they had rolled over the balance while the lender added fees and interest. The woman also took out a loan on the title to the family car and borrowed from other short-term lenders. By the time she came to the Valencias for help, the debt had ballooned to more than $10,000. The car was scheduled to be repossessed, and the woman and her family were in danger of losing their home.

The Valencias and their church were able to help the family save the car and recover, but the incident alerted the pastoral duo to a growing problem: lower-income Americans caught in a never-ending loan cycle. While profits for lenders can be substantial, the toll on families can be devastating.

Now, a number of churches are lobbying local, state and federal officials to limit the reach of such lending operations. In some instances, churches are offering small-dollar loans to members and the community as an alternative.

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Into the guilt file: Another strange story about a newsroom that contains no telephones

Into the guilt file: Another strange story about a newsroom that contains no telephones

Just the other day, our own Bobby Ross, Jr., did a great job of explaining the concept of the "guilt folders" that your GetReligionistas keep, either in the back of our minds or literally in a digital folder in an email program.

Like he said, sometimes things just stack up and you forget about news stories that you intended to feature in a post. It's like those days when you see that you have 500 emails in your personal in-basket and you really don't know how they got there.

However, there's another kind of "guilt folder" story. Sometimes you read a story and your mind says, "What the heck?" You know that there's something there but it takes you a long time to put your finger on it.

This is one of those guilt-file stories. It comes from The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., and it focuses on two actions -- one by the board of Southwest Community Church and the other by its pastor. Long ago, it was a timely story, with a timely headline: "California pastor resigns over gay marriage stance."

Here's the top of that story. Try to spot the journalism landmine that it took me some time to figure out.

A few months ago, Pastor Gerald Sharon -- who has been lead pastor of Southwest since 2013 and previously served at Saddleback Church in Orange County -- asked the church hierarchy to look into “the extent to which a homosexual individual could be involved in the life of Southwest Church.”
While the church leadership initially seemed engaged in the discussions, they recently sent Sharon a letter in which they unanimously affirmed Southwest’s current position on homosexuality.
Southwest’s LGBT policy is written down in a document titled “Homosexuality and Human Sexuality.” The document does not appear to be publicly available.

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Ghost of Darryl Strawberry: Impossible-to-miss (or not) explanation for a star's return to glory

Ghost of Darryl Strawberry: Impossible-to-miss (or not) explanation for a star's return to glory

From time to time, we at GetReligion reference our "guilt folders."

These imaginary folders are where we stuff all those stories that we'd love to analyze but — for whatever reason — never seem to get around to.

I may set a new record for longest wait to highlight a story with this post as I call attention to one published on July 12, 2013. For those not good at math, that's more than three years ago. I called "dibs" at that time. But something else came along because I never wrote about it.

So why do I mention it now? Because of a new story on the same subject matter that I just came across.

This one is a recent Los Angeles Times interview with former major-league baseball star Darryl Strawberry on his rise and fall — and his rise again:

If Darryl Strawberry didn't exist, a screenwriter would need to invent him.
Enduring a hardscrabble childhood in South Los Angeles with an absentee alcoholic father, Strawberry found escape — and greatness — on the baseball field, thanks to a slinky swing that could quickly dispatch balls to the far side of outfield walls.
Strawberry arrived in New York as a teenage sensation in the early 1980s with a shiny future. He would go on win a rookie-of-the-year award and then, in 1986, help lead the hometown Mets to a World Series title.
That high was soon followed by a series of lows that included a long battle with drugs and alcohol addiction, jail time, an arrest on suspicion of domestic battery and multiple cancer diagnoses. Strawberry was one of the purest talents the game has ever seen. He was also one of its most tabloid-prone.
In recent years, Strawberry has rebounded, finding sobriety a‎nd a stable marriage. He's even started a Christian mission devoted to others' recovery.

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