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A Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam

Protest usury in London

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A payday-loan business in Los Angeles.(Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

A British group called London Citizens has started a campaign to persuade Britain and the United States to outlaw usury—the group wants a law that prohibits interest rates over 8 percent. And to launch it, they have organized a priest, an imam, and, yes, a rabbi to deliver copies of the New Testament, the Koran, and the Torah to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s chairman today. Why all three? “Any anti-usury campaign that does not involve Jews risks becoming an anti-Semitic campaign,” explains London Citizens activist Maurice Glasman. (Because levying interest was for centuries forbidden to Christians, money-lenders were invariably Jews, and condemning usury has long been a coded way of condemning Jews.) Guardian economics columnist Jonathan Freedland does a nice job of explaining how “extortionate, exploitative borrowing”—U.S. consumer debt has risen 733 percent since 1980, when outgoing President Jimmy Carter signed a repeal of an anti-usury law—is a social ill that financial institutions will not phase out without being forced to. But he also notes that “[i]t’s refreshing for Jews and Muslims, in particular, to be working together … and for these communities to be engaged in interfaith action rather than another round of earnest tea-sipping in the name of ‘dialogue.’” We find it cheering, too. It’s oddly reassuring that no matter what history, politics, and religion may say, money will always find a way to talk more loudly.

Heard The One About a Rabbi, an Imam, and a Priest, Who Walk Into a Bank? [Guardian]

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Brian says:

“condemning usury has long been a coded way of condemning Jews.”

I cannot believe the complete lack of balls of this group…nor of the masses for not refusing to pay insane interest until they drop their rates. The masses have NO organization anymore…thus, they get walked on over and over.

Lastly, it’s just crazy for people to have any debt anyway. You DON’T need it.

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A Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam

Protest usury in London

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