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Homosexual rights activists gain influence in public schools (10/17/04)

Church’s prayer births children’s ministry (10/17/04)

Partner program revitalizes dying church (10/10/04)

Church music festival attracts variety of visitors (10/10/04)

Churches urge compassion for alienated smokers (9/19/04)

Youth ride wooden waves in church parking lots (9/12/04)

A/G, COGIC join forces through inner-city campus (9/12/04)

Christians respond to victimized women and children (8/29/04)

Growing slavic church shares new facility (8/29/04)

Couple embarks on capitol prayer tour (8/29/04)

ADHD requires multifaceted treatment approach (8/22/04)

Small congregation grows — by planting churches (8/22/04)

‘Under God’ stays in Pledge of Allegiance, at least for now (8/8/04)

Church reaches out to those feeling loss (8/8/04)

Churches act pre-emptively to reduce risk of abuse (7/25/04)

Credit cards ensnare record number of Americans (7/25/04)

Church helps out with donated CD, recycled buses (7/25/04)

New wave of pastors minister to emerging adults (7/18/04)

‘Walking Witnesses’ raise thousands for missions (7/18/04)

Healing center offers alternative medicine (7/18/04)

Growing number of Hispanics impact economy (7/11/04)

'Busy' couple finds time for compassion ministry (7/11/04)

Hand-copied Bible leaves 40-year legacy (7/11/04)

Pastor ends hunger strike when strip club promises to sell (6/27/04)

‘Military survival kit’ requests inundate A/G (6/27/04)

Fourth of July outreach draws thousands (6/27/04)

Drivers warned to steer clear of distractions (6/27/04)

Pastors face more counseling demands (6/20/04)

Church uses touch of ‘flavor’ to reach community (6/20/04)

Outrageous self-expression often starts, stops at home (6/13/04)

Runner raises $5,200 for Convoy of Hope (6/13/04)

Euphemisms tempt Christians to conveniently shed sin, guilt (5/30/04)

Funds for Easter play buy groceries instead (5/30/04)

Identity theft threatens millions of Americans (5/23/04)

Spanish speakers face challenges, opportunities in United States culture (5/16/04)

Health experts implore Americans to get fit (5/9/04)

Leaders say Christian faith stems recidivism (4/25/04)

Riders feel at home in Orlando sanctuary (4/18/04)

Churches try to keep human touch with new media (4/11/04)

Christians see Passion as ministry opportunity (3/28/04)

Tutoring improves lives, opens doors for evangelism (3/21/04)

Cybertheft costly — especially for Christians (3/14/04)

A/G women seize new ministry opportunities (2/29/04)

Investment in early spiritual maturity reaps rewards (2/22/04)

Christian families respond to foster care opportunities (2/15/04)

Childless couples grapple with emotional roller coaster, faith challenges (2/8/04)

Few men seek help from abortion grief, guilt (1/18/04)

Women who answer God's call provide valuable local ministries (1/11/04)

2003 PE Report stories

Frontline Reports

2002 PE Report stories

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories


Credit cards ensnare record number of Americans

By Jocelyn C. Green (7/25/04)

As a first-year college student, Carley Fillinger of Waterloo, Iowa, did what everyone else seemed to be doing. She signed up for credit cards whose companies offered bags of candy or a free T-shirt for a completed application.

“Once I got the cards,” she says, “I didn’t relate to the fact that I had to pay all my purchases off, and that making the monthly minimum payment is not enough because you still have interest, and if you get behind, late fees. My credit card debt kept building and building, and then I gave up.”

When Fillinger gave up trying to keep up with her mounting credit card debt, she also gave up her education. She dropped out of college to get a full-time job to pay off those cards.

It didn’t work. At age 27, Carley Fillinger declared bankruptcy.

Her story is not uncommon. Credit cards have been making their way into the hands of younger and younger consumers in recent years, with college students being a target demographic.

“College kids are one of the most susceptible groups to racking up credit card debt,” says William Hunt, legal counsel for A/G Financial in Springfield, Mo. “Credit card debt, unless properly controlled, can really dig young people into a hole.”

Young people aren’t the only ones buried under debt. Bankruptcies have nearly doubled in the past decade in the United States, with more than 1.6 million people filing in fiscal 2003 alone. Consumer debt hit an all-time high of $1.98 trillion in October 2003, for an average of about $18,700 of debt per U.S. household. Credit card debt reached $735 billion in January, for an average of $10,000 per card-carrying household.

“If you don’t have the money in your checking account, don’t buy anything using a credit card,” Hunt advises. “Pay the card off immediately every month, and don’t get to the point where you need to pay finance charges.”

Don White, president of Treasure Coast Financial Services in Stuart, Fla., names five behaviors that keep a person in debt:

1. Mimicking lifestyles of loved ones.

2. Being overcome by peer pressure.

3. Having no idea where the money goes.

4. Gaining easy access to credit.

5. Yielding to yearnings regardless of earnings.

For those already in debt, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Atlanta suggests sending payments on time, always paying more than the minimum due, tackling high-interest cards first, transferring balances to lower interest cards and negotiating with your creditors.

Carley Fillinger is approaching 30, and still battling debt. Months after filing bankruptcy in 2001, she became entangled in a new wave of credit card debt.

In addition to following the debt reduction advice from CCCS, Fillinger made lifestyle changes. She moved to a duplex with lower rent. She shops at discount stores and garage sales rather than malls. Dining out is rare.

Fillinger is paying off her last two credit cards, narrowly escaping a lawsuit with one creditor. She graduated in May with a degree from Upper Iowa University. It has taken more than a decade for Fillinger to get out from underneath the debt, and she vows never to carry another card again.

“Credit cards aren’t sinful,” says Howard Dayton, co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries in Gainesville, Ga. “They are dangerous.”


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