THOU SHALT NOT END LATE FEES….Others can tackle the substance of the bankruptcy bill. I’m here to find the religious angle in every conceivable policy story. According to Chuck Grassley’s hometown paper, the Des Moines Register, a national group of Christian lawyers is broadcasting its opposition to the bill on religious grounds: “As Christian attorneys, we strongly believe that it was never God’s intention to create a society where indebtedness was a crime or a badge of dishonor.”

Grassley, however, is having none of it. “I can’t listen to Christian lawyers because I would be imposing the Bible on a diverse population,” Grassley told the paper. Ah, yes, there would be that vaunted Republican support for the separation of church and state. Anyone want to volunteer examples of cases in which Grassley was more than happy to listen to Christian groups lobbying him for something or other?

Now, the Christian lawyers are consumer bankruptcy lawyers, which means that they have a substantial stake in seeing the bill stopped. But this is an argument that often comes up whenever people of faith get involved in politics and it’s time to clear things up. If someone makes an argument for why you should do something, and then you do it, it does not then follow that your action was based on their argument. Plenty of religious progressives used biblical arguments for abolition, but that does not mean that the politicians who supported abolition imposed religious beliefs on the rest of the country.

By the way, on an totally different late fee subject, I was pleased to see that Blockbuster is being taken to court over its phony “End of Late Fees” policy change. (Yes, I’m a month late on this…I’ve been waiting for a way to worm it into a post.) The first time we saw the commercial and heard “Need extra time? Keep it another day or two…”, we knew something was up. An extra day or two is not the end of late fees. The company is arguing that they have technically done away with late fees because now if you keep the rental too long, you’re not charged a late fee, you’re charged the entire cost of the item. Nice.

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Amy Sullivan

Amy Sullivan is a Chicago-based journalist who has written about religion, politics, and culture as a senior editor for Time, National Journal, and Yahoo. She was an editor at the Washington Monthly from 2004 to 2006.