Christian nonprofit claims Bank of America ‘unbanked’ them for religious discrimination

A Christian ministry that claimed to have been “unbanked” by Bank of America filed a consumer complaint with Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti this week to determine whether its accounts were closed due to religious discrimination.

In April, Bank of America warned Indigenous Advanced Ministries, a Memphis, Tennessee-based nonprofit organization dedicated to charitable efforts for orphaned children in Uganda through various associations, without explanation, that the organization was “operating in a type of business that we have decided not to provide services”. at Bank of America” and would close within 30 days.

In May, Bank of America sent another letter stating that its “risk profile no longer aligns with the bank’s risk tolerance.”

The ministry, which believes in pro-life values ​​and that marriage is between a man and a woman on its website, reportedly had two accounts at the bank since 2015.

One of these accounts pertains to the ministry itself, while the second is associated with a Memphis-based church that supports ministry initiatives as well as other missions abroad.

A third account was opened this year to facilitate the operations of the Customer Service Center of Indigenous Advance, the ministry’s for-profit counterpart that involves sending notices “of overdue invoices on behalf of our clients,” according to its website. .

Indigenous Advanced Ministries claims Bank of America “unbanked” them and this week filed a consumer complaint to determine if their accounts were closed due to religious discrimination.ProArtWork

Bank of America told Fox News Digital on Friday that the accounts were closed due to its “internal debt collection policy” that does not support that service.

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The bank declined to provide a copy of the policy to Fox News Digital.

“We are proud to provide banking services to nonprofit organizations affiliated with diverse faith communities throughout the United States,” bank spokesman Bill Halldin said in a statement.

“Religious beliefs are not a factor in any account closure decision.”

Advanced Indigenous MinistriesThe Memphis, Tennessee-based nonprofit organization was involved in charitable efforts for orphaned children in Uganda through various partnerships.Fox News

It added: “Our US division serving small businesses does not provide banking services to organizations providing debt collection services for a variety of risk-related considerations and does not serve small businesses operating outside of the United States.”

Jeremy Tedesco, president of the nonprofit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Indigenous Advanced Ministries, told Fox News Digital that his client made repeated inquiries to Bank of America for an explanation of its impending closure.

The ministry’s deposit account held $270,000 at the time before it was moved to another banking company, they said.

“What Bank of America is doing here, obviously, is giving an explanation after the fact of the cancellations that they did four months ago,” Tedesco told Fox News Digital.

Advanced Indigenous MinistriesThe group, which believes in pro-life values ​​and that marriage is between a man and a woman on its website, has maintained two accounts at the bank since 2015.Fox News

“They didn’t want to talk to our client about the reasons why they closed the account.”

“This is what we see every time in these situations, banks close an account, give vague reasons and it is suspicious; it looks suspiciously like it is politically or religiously motivated,” he said.

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The ministry’s consumer complaint alleges that Bank of America may have violated consumer protection laws and its own internal “Code of Conduct.”

This code includes “diversity and inclusion,” including religious diversity, and requires that decisions made about customer accounts reflect these values.

The founder of the Indigenous Ministry, Steve Happ, wrote in the complaint that he was “very confused” since the ministry does not “donate to or advocate for any political cause, national or international.”

“I am concerned that Bank of America has terminated our accounts and those of our partners because it does not agree with our religious views,” Happ wrote.

The sudden closure of the account left the ministry in a bind, the ministry said, disrupting its planned mission trip to Uganda in June and temporarily affecting salary payments there.

The move comes at a time when “unbanking” has become more prominent.

Former Brexit leader Nigel Farage had his account with Coutts, a private bank affiliated with Britain’s NatWest banking group, closed in July.

Last year, JPMorgan Chase closed the bank account of the National Committee for Religious Liberty, a newly created nonprofit organization led by Sam Brownback, a former US senator and ambassador.

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