Will the second-most powerful U.S. bank finally explain why it 'de-banks' Christian customers?

Will the second-most powerful U.S. bank finally explain why it 'de-banks' Christian customers?

Will the second-most powerful U.S. bank finally explain why it 'de-banks' Christian customers?

Bank of America is being advised to quit punishing customers for their beliefs, or else consider a name change, but first it has to come clean about its motives.

Bank of America, the second most powerful bank in the U.S., is being questioned by a coalition of state attorneys general for allegedly refusing service to Christian customers and to politically conservative groups.

ADF confronts BOA over de-banked ministry

Steve Jordahl, AFN.net

Alliance Defending Freedom is taking on Bank of America and its decision to de-bank customers because of their political or religious beliefs.

ADF, a religious freedom law firm, is representing a Tennessee-based ministry called Indigenous Advance that watched its account get closed by the banking giant.

Tedesco, Jeremy (ADF) Tedesco

Steve Happ, who leads the ministry, says it cares for orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda.

“The ministries we partner with feed orphans, build wells for villages without access to water,” he says.

Jeremy Tedesco, senior vice president at ADF, tells AFN the stated reason is BOA claims the ministry was involved in debt-collection.

“This is categorically false,” he says.

The non-profit ministry is partnered with a similar-named business, Indigenous Advance Customer Center, according to a related Christian Post story from 2023.

Tedesco personally confronted BOA executives this week about de-banking the ministry, when he participated in a shareholder’s meeting, and says he was told the same lies.

“Politicized de-banking is on the rise and Americans should be concerned,” the attorney says. “We cannot live in a free country if access to the marketplace depends on our political or religious views.”

Reacting to those allegations, which date back to 2020, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach has written a letter to bank officials demand they provide a report of their policies and practices.

The letter also demands that the bank update its terms of service to state that it does not discriminate against customers because of their political and religious views.

The letter is co-signed by AGs from 14 other states.

“This is in violation of not only federal law, but it violates many of our state laws," Kobach said on Washington Watch Wednesday. "Ironically, for Bank of America, it’s highly un-American. It appears this bank is not for all of America, and that conservatives are not welcome whether it be conservative religious views or conservative political views." 

Kobach (pictured at left) sent the letter April 16 and is seeking a response within 30 days.

Now that Kobach's letter is making news headlines, Bank of America is pulling out its denial from four years ago that it discriminates against people of faith in a statement to DailyMail.com.

“Religious beliefs are not a factor in any account-closing decision,” a bank representative told the news outlet. “We are proud to provide banking services to non-profit organizations affiliated with diverse faith communities throughout the United States.”

That response conflicts with information obtained by Kobach relating to BOA’s decision to part ways with the Timothy Two Project. That ministry, which trains Third World pastors in 65 countries, learned in November 2020 the powerful bank was cancelling its account because the ministry is "operating a business type we have chosen not to service." 

Ministry founder Steve Curtis, recalling that incident in a 2023 Washington Examiner op-ed, said the ministry was "surprised and confused" by the notice but moved on and found another bank. 

"That was the end of the story, I figured," Curtis wrote. "But almost three years later, I read a Daily Mail article about Bank of America doing the exact same thing to a ministry called Indigenous Advance."

Kobach's letter mentions that Bank of America “de-banked” Indigenous Advance and also a Memphis, Tennessee-based church, Servants of Christ.

The letter is co-signed by AGs from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

Twisting arms to end your enemies  

Beyond dropping Christian ministries, Kobach's letter notes that BOA voluntarily cooperated with the FBI and U.S. Treasury to profile conservative and religious Americans as potential domestic terrorists.

AFN reported in a March story how the Biden administration quietly contacted top bank executives in 2021 with a report called "Bankrolling Bigotry" that was published by a left-wing think tank. With the report in hand, a department within the U.S. Treasury Department urged them to close the accounts of right-wing groups, including Alliance Defending Freedom, Pacific Justice Institute, Liberty Counsel, and Family Research Council.

American Family Association, the Mississippi-based parent organization of American Family News, was include in that list. 

That secretive lobbying effort to shut down political enemies only came to light after House Republicans began an investigation into the bank’s involvement with the FBI and Treasury.

Kobach told show host Tony Perkins this trend of discrimination with Bank of America was easy to spot.

“It’s a pattern of practice," he explained. "When the bank takes away the account or debanks somebody or an organization, they don’t say, ‘Oh, we’ve taken away these services because you have Christian activity,’ or ‘we don’t like your political views.' They just take it away and if anything give a very generic statement like, ‘You don’t meet our requirements for service.'" 

Closing just one account of an unwanted customer is harder to notice, the Kansas attorney general said, but it has now happened "again and again and again."