A church in New Jersey held a demonstration during which they took a large number of mailed credit card offers and set them ablaze in the parking lot.
First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset had congregants bring offers for credit cards they had received and then stuffed the letters into a silver bin and burned them up on Sunday.
The event was overseen by the Rev. DeForest B. Soaries, Jr., senior pastor of First Baptist, and was done to protest predatory lending practices.
"The burning of the credit card offers will hopefully send a strong message to the financial industry that we will not be victims anymore," said Soaries in a statement.
"I've seen first-hand the trap that's caused by borrowing money you can't afford to pay back. It can turn into a viscous cycle. I have members of my church whose homes are in foreclosure because they were given mortgages they can't afford."
Soaries, who has a history of community activism, has also done his best to make sure his congregation is not only spiritually healthy, but also financially responsible. For the past seven years Soaries has taught about fiscal responsibility at First Baptist. His media accolades include writing a book in 2011 entitled dfree: Breaking Free from Financial Slavery and being featured in the CNN special "Black America: Almighty Debt in 2010."
"For the last six years, we have been working to make not only my congregation debt free, but people across America," said Soaries before those gathered in the church parking lot.
"Some people are slaves to debt because they were extended loans – from credit cards to mortgages – they could not afford. As banking institutions are bouncing back, they are back to business as usual in targeting risky borrowers."
Soaries and his congregation believe that banks are targeting low income Americans with excessive credit card offers and predatory loans. Of the First Baptist members present, one of them had brought 38 credit card offers in the mail to be incinerated. Another told local media that it was not uncommon for him to receive around four offers a day.
First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey did not return a request for comments by press time.