Nearly two dozen American states are campaigning against what they call the growing incidence of ‘debanking’ Christians and conservatives. That’s when financial institutions restrict or cancel services because of the client’s religious or political beliefs.
Attorneys-general from 23 Republican-led states have written to major firms that provide voting advice to corporate shareholders. It urges them to stop supporting efforts to ‘debank’ conservatives. It also demands more transparency over why financial institutions close customers’ accounts.
CBN News reports that banking and financial services have become weaponised with multiple accounts recently closed for ideological reasons. Christian and conservative groups labeled ‘high risk’ can be denied financial services under the cover of federal banking laws.
Among the groups recently “cancelled” are Indigenous Advance Ministries which helps orphans and widows in Africa; the Family Council of Arkansas which promotes traditional family values; the pro-family Ruth Institute; and even the National Committee for Religious Freedom.
Republican Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird led 22 other state attorneys general in sending a letter to Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis (GL), the two companies that control 97% of the proxy advisory services market, whose advice the AGs say shapes “the choices and activity of businesses and ultimately the United States’ and global economy,” according to The Daily Signal.
The seven-page letter warns the companies against opposing shareholder resolutions that would hold financial institutions accountable for restricting services based on clients’ religious and political beliefs. The top state law enforcement officers note that viewpoint discrimination comes with “legal liabilities,” but so does “lying in publicly available policies and disclosures.”
“They [ISS and GL] have advised big banks to keep quiet about why they’ve closed people’s bank accounts,” Attorney General Bird told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “We’ve seen banks targeting accounts for Second Amendment groups, like the pro-gun lobby the National Rifle Association (NRA), or religious groups, including Christian nonprofits. They say they want transparency, but when it comes to the fact that some of the big banks are ‘debanking’ conservatives or conservative causes, they don’t want that transparency,” Ms. Bird asserted.
Banks often use “reputational risk” or “hate speech” policies to target customers based on politics, the letter states, but it advises: “Debanking also presents serious reputational risks. Even the appearance of politicised debanking can do serious financial harm. Many states are evaluating their relationships with banks and investment managers over concerns that those entities are denying service and capital to legal industries like firearms companies and fossil fuel producers.”
“This letter should not be necessary. Americans should not have to worry that they will be denied critical financial services because of their religious and political beliefs,” the letter concluded.
Banking experts told CBN News that nothing will change until Congress finally changes federal banking laws to protect people of faith. They said current federal laws give banks a myriad of excuses to cancel groups whose values present so-called “reputational risks. They adds that federal regulators are also to blame because they can pressure banks to cancel certain groups.
Image: First Liberty