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God Is Not a Fan of the Banking Industry

Posted on Apr 7, 2009
Detail from Creation of the Sun and Moon by Michelangelo

Do a quick Google search and you’ll find that God, as worshipped by Jews, Christians and Muslims, has some strong feelings about interest charges—or usury, as it’s known in the Hebrew Bible. Here’s a doozy from Ezekiel: “Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.” Ouch.

The next time Visa calls looking for a payment, try hitting them up with Exodus 22:25: “If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.”

Of course, they might throw Leviticus 20:9 back in your face. That’s the one that says, “For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.”

Incidentally, Leviticus is the same book homophobes cite when they seek biblical justification, so 20:9 is a good one to keep in your back pocket.

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By barbatus, April 8, 2009 at 9:30 am Link to this comment

To felicity:

It certainly did contribute in Middle Ages and later, but this “age old resentment” you’ve mentioned predates Christianity.

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By felicity, April 8, 2009 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

Ed - I can’t answer your question but I can elaborate on how the admonition against usury played out through the centuries.

Originally, and for many years to follow, Jews could practise usury against Christians but not fellow Jews, whereas Christians were forbidden its practise, period. And, by the way, it has been suggested that the age-old resentment against Jews may have stemmed from this practise.  (Bankers take note.)

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By Blackspeare, April 8, 2009 at 7:38 am Link to this comment

The Bible also says “Go forth and be fruitful and multiply”——it might pertain to bank accounts!

That’s why they say, Jesus saved; Moses invested.

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By mmadden, April 8, 2009 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

I bet that 30 percent on credit cards could be called usury. Can’t wait for God’s wrath to be aimed at credit card companies.

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By Bible Man, April 8, 2009 at 12:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers and then took cords and whipped them saying “ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Mark 11:15–19, 11:27–33,
Matthew 21:12–17, 21:23–27
Luke 19:45–48, 20:1–8
John 2:12–25

So the next time some phoney Bible waving conman raves on about how the money changers deserve our tax money and how children should starve to bailout bankers in the Bahamas….  Well, let Jesus be your guide.

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By squeaky jones, April 7, 2009 at 7:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jesus who, had his chance, and let the world down. He died now what?  How about getting over the farie tale called, “The Bible.”  The churches have to much invested in the god business to ever go away peacefully, to much money to be made, to much power, and control.  Squeaky.

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By mlb, April 7, 2009 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment

Capitalism might be better described as the Church of Mammon rather than the Church of Satan:

Mammon  In the New Testament, riches, avarice, and worldly gain personified as a false god.  Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:9,11,13”  - American Heritage dictionary.

But talk to any typical Republican.  He or she will enthusiastically praise greed, while pretending to be a Christian.  Democratic politicians are hardly better, but at least most of them are ashamed enough to refrain from openly admitting it.  Obama didn’t used to think greed was so great, and even dared utter such blasphemy in public, but his Wall St. overlords have corrected his error and shown him the light.

All hail Mammon, god of greed!

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By wildflower, April 7, 2009 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

RE Truthdig: “Do a quick Google search you’ll find that God, as worshiped by Jews, Christians and Muslims, has some strong feelings about interest charges—or usury, as it’s known in the Hebrew bible.”

How about “Thou shall not steal?”  Surely, the bankers, Wall Street, and their “deregulation” supporters on Capital Hill don’t need a Google search for this one.  And the public doesn’t really need a Google search to figure out why so many of our so called “representatives” on Capital Hill are ignoring the law when it comes to Wall Street and the bankers.  We obviously need to replace some of these individuals on Capital Hill with people who respect the law and who will interpret our laws equally, even when it involves bankers and stock marketers.

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By John Dieter, April 7, 2009 at 11:13 am Link to this comment
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The banks and Government (one and the same) are committing fraud against capitalists via the property tax appraisal districts. By forcing people to value their property by “How much a bank will loan” instead of “How much will a capitalist pay” they are forcing capitalists (who can actually afford the asset) out of the market. A Capitalist will save up $150,000 to buy an asset (a house) because, if he uses a mortgage, a large percentage of his income from the asset will go to bankers. But when the cash wielding capitalist has to compete for assets against the man with NO capitol, he finds the man with no capitol has a great advantage, because he is only paying 5 or 6 thousand dollars for his mortgage, and he doesn’t care if the property is valued correctly. That is how EVERY single house in the country got valued at 4 to 5 times what it would be - if no mortgage was involved. Good for bankers. Bad for the economy, and bad for small capitalists. Until the appraisal districts start ignoring what “banks will loan” and start valuing houses at “what a capitalist investor with cash will pay” this fraud will continue.

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By tshirt-doctor, April 7, 2009 at 10:42 am Link to this comment

my imaginary friend said poke you in the eyes…


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By niloroth, April 7, 2009 at 9:44 am Link to this comment

he isn’t much for women or gays either.  Whats the point?  Can we please get away from listening to imaginary friends now?

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By Thomas Mc, April 7, 2009 at 9:27 am Link to this comment

Capitalism is the Church of Satan.

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By Rodger Lemonde, April 7, 2009 at 9:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The point of this article is that usury is not a Judeao/Christian value.
In our current financial disaster we should be passing usury laws to protect people from predatory lenders. Credit card companies are bad but pay day loan outfits are an abomination. They prey on the poorest of the poor making obscene demands for their services.

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By samosamo, April 7, 2009 at 7:16 am Link to this comment

Hell, another ‘god’ post. The book review of ‘The god debate’ was horrible, over 200 comments, nothing said, nothing accomplished, just ranting and raging.

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By plainsman, April 7, 2009 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

Aristotle—whose writings also informed much of the mentality of Europeans when they crossed the Atlantic in conquest of the Americas—also disdained usury. From his book “Politics”:

1.10 - There are two sorts of wealth-getting, as I have said; one is a part of household management, the other is retail trade: the former necessary and honourable, while that which consists in exchange is justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain from one another. The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of any modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

And one of the few times that Jesus got angry was when he drove the money changers from the Temple; the only time he acted violently (according to the canonical texts).

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By artie, April 7, 2009 at 6:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

jesuus: Sell all and give to the poor. Never mentioned by the Church herarchy or TV evangelists.

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By G.Anderson, April 7, 2009 at 6:00 am Link to this comment

Since American’s produce very little of value to the world except debt, we will continue to be a debt farm to the rest of the world.

Credit Card Debt, Mortgage Debt, Student Loan Debt, and Pay Day Loan Debt, all have become America’s most important product, since we no longer produce much to sell.

Keeping us in debt, and selling our debt to the rest of the world, has become job number one for our banks. Guaranteeing that American’s will be life long debt serf’s, with no way to get out of debt, either through bankrupcy, or limits on interest rates, has become job number one for our legislature, both in Washington and in California.

This is why banks, and the apparatus of Collection spend billions lobbying congress, and State Governments. 

Let’s face it they want us to be debt slaves, because this is how they make wealth for themselves.

Unfortunately, for them and us, we have reached a point where our work has been so devalued, by them, that we can no longer service the debt they placed us in. We don’t make enough money at work to even make adequate payments on the debt. Rendering that debt worthless.

This is the core issue of our financial crisis, and why, governement has had to step in with bailouts, to protect the number one product of the banking industry, our debt.

We now owe the money in taxes, whether we have student loans, or credit cards or mortgages doesn’t matter, because our government has guaranteed that we will all be indebted, it’s turned our supposed private debt into public debt. Continuing their service to the banking industry, that put them in power.

But It’s not going to work, because American’s can not service 1 penny more of debt, we don’t make enough income. They’ve taken it all and we don’t have anything more to give.

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By eileen fleming, April 7, 2009 at 5:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Bible was NOT Faxed in from heaven. It is a collection of stories that ancient people told regarding their struggling to have a relationship with The Divine.

The ancients told their stories around the campfires for centuries before anything was written down.

Scribes received their bad rep because of those who added and left things out of the stories.

God never quit talking to human beings and was never a Real Estate broker.

He/She/? still speaks to all of us in what we call out conscience and our imagination. That is, IF we have the spiritual ears to hear or an open heart ready to receive.

“Imagination is evidence of The Divine”-William Blake

It has been said, tell me your politics and I will know who your god/God is: A god of war, or the God of peace? A god of injustice, or the God of justice? A god who seeks vengeance or the God of compassionate mercy? A god of violent retaliation or the God of nonviolence?


I offer you my imaginative spin on one of the Genesis stories i told in “KEEP HOPE ALIVE”

Harold lifted his almost empty pouch of Crown Royal and exclaimed, “Let’s toast the man, and then I’ll tell you what my daddy told me when I was a kid, when my brothers and I would get out of hand. He’d say, ‘boys, you all are going the way of Cain and Abel, and you’d better quit. For one of those boys was filled with so much hatred and jealousy that he killed the other.’

“Then my old man would be on a roll, and he’d tell us about Sarah, Abraham’s wife. And we loved to hear that part, so we’d quit our fight. You see, although Sarah was already menopaused, she still desired a child. God had even shared a laugh with her about it coming true, but just like a woman, she took the matter into her own hands, and refused to wait for the Lord to deliver.

“So old Sarah decided to give her maidservant to her old man, and that chick and Abraham made a kid. Everything was fine when Ishmael arrived, but only for a very short while.

“Now, although Sarah was a dried-up old crone, she, too, birthed a son, and named him after the laughter she had shared with God, but called the kid Isaac. Sarah had gotten very territorial and demanded Abraham cast out his beloved first son with his mama Haggar, into the barren wilderness, and Abraham did it!

“But, as God always hears the cries of mothers and sons, he promised to make a great nation from Ishmael’s descendants, too. And thus, the Arab nation was born.

“By the sixth century before Christ, the conflicts in the land were already old news, and Jeremiah warned the people that all God could see was violence and destruction in the city. Sickness and wounds were all around. And then my old man would get tears in his eyes and softly recite:

‘for every misunderstanding, every condemning thought, every negative vibration, every tear torn from a heart, every time one grabbed and wouldn’t let go, and they only did it because they did not know. The Divine is within all creation and within all women and men.

‘And every tiny kindness you have ever done, every gentle word spoken, every time you held your tongue, every positive thought, every smile freely given, every helping hand that opens, helps bring in the kingdom. And the kingdom comes from above, and it comes from within. Imagine a kingdom of sisterhood of all creatures and all men.’”

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By Dave24, April 7, 2009 at 4:50 am Link to this comment

O superstition; how I loathe thee.

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By Ed Harges, April 7, 2009 at 4:08 am Link to this comment

Christian and Jewish religious conservatives try to get around this nowadays by saying that by “usury” is meant only the charging of “excessive” interest, whatever that means. Thus the charging of interest is not in itself usury.

Does anybody here know what the biblical prohibition against “usury” actually means, in the original language? Any Greek scholars out there?

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