The crusaders of Because-I-say-so, Steve Hildebrand and Steve Hickey, are on the attack again in the Argus Leader this morning, after what I assume was a crabby e-mail to Jonathan Ellis trying to whip up a controversy among South Dakota ELCA Lutherans because the group had no interest in joining them.
But in South Dakota, where voters this year will decide on a ballot measure that caps interest rates on short-term loans at 36 percent, the ELCA is sitting on the sidelines. Efforts to recruit the church, which is one of the most influential religious organizations in the state, have failed.
Supporters of the cap say they know why: The lawyer who represents the South Dakota Synod of the ELCA in Pierre also represents the payday lending industry.
Two of the sponsors of the 36 percent rate cap, Steve Hickey and Steve Hildebrand, personally lobbied Zellmer for his support on the ballot issue last year. Hickey described Zellmer as a “cold fish” when it came to the issue.
In an interview this month, Zellmer said he heard them out. But he said he has not received direction on the issue from the South Dakota Synod Assembly.
“I don’t work for Steve Hickey. I don’t work for Steve Hildebrand,” Zellmer said.
“I would completely trust that Bishop Zellmer is above board on these kinds of questions,” Sorenson said.
Sorenson added that Lutherans are commanded to make the best construction of what others say or do and not to assume the worst.
“I think we tend to be too suspicious of these kinds of things,” he said.
This fight is mainly a difference of opinion on whether a legal consumer lending product should remain legal. Economists and scholars in favor of free enterprise believe that limiting choices on things like short term loans limits freedom. The two Steves believe in less freedom, and limits on free enterprise and want to end the availability of those types of lending products.
Beating the drum of “It’s all a conspiracy, and they’re all in cahoots!”, these opponents of the short term lending industry have regularly been on the attack against anyone who disagrees with them on the issue, and in some cases have been fairly vicious. The short term lending opponents have attacked the industry and made claims of them being involved with the mafia, and now they’re attacking the integrity of the ELCA’s Lutheran Bishop because he isn’t signing on to their cause.
When I say “I can’t imagine why someone would take a pass on being involved with those guys'” I’m doing so with a heavy dollop of sarcasm. With their name calling and strong-arm tactics, at this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone credible wanting to be involved with them.
Especially when their social engineering moves us away from free enterprise, and towards more socialism.