To the Editor:

I was disappointed but not surprised to read about the American Bankers Association's latest attack on credit unions ["Banks Skewer Bill to Help Credit Unions Lend to Churches," Aug. 11, page 5].

Our credit union has served as a financial resource for churches and other faith-based organizations for 36 years, often providing loans where no banker can be found.

The ABA's senior economist asserts a form of selective truth when he labels "poppycock" the notion that churches can't get similar loans from banks.

Banks will often bid vigorously for large church loans in prosperous, thriving communities. But for most churches - those with attendance less than 200 - it's a far different story.

For churches in the inner city, where we make a quarter of all our loans, banks, bank loans are practically nonexistent. As one ethnic minority pastor told me, "Bankers talk a lot about helping us, but when it comes down to helping us build a homeless shelter or drug rehab center, they don't come here."

By the way, our credit union has never experienced a loss on a real-estate-secured church loan.

Far from being a Trojan horse, the Faith Based Lending Protection Act is a straightforward measure that would enable credit unions to do more of what banks often won't do at all - make loans to faith-based organizations providing essential services in their communities. This bill enjoys bipartisan support precisely because there is no agenda other than helping churches obtain badly needed loan funds.

Mark G. Holbrook
President, CEO
Evangelical, Christian Credit Union
Anaheim, Calif.

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