A Tennessee-based Christian charity filed a complaint with their state attorney general over concerns their work serving Uganda communities had led to their being debanked.
The charity organization Indigenous Advance (IA) Ministries, formerly World Shine USA expressed some serious concerns about Bank of America’s (BofA) sudden closure of their and their partners’ bank accounts which they said dated back as far as 2015.
In a report from the Daily Mail, the organization, described as “an ultra-conservative Christian charity” working with impoverished Ugandan orphans, contended that BofA had shuttered their account shortly after opening a new business account in January of this year.
“Upon review of your account(s) we have determined you’re operating in a business type we have chosen not to service at Bank of America,” stated a letter to IA dated April 24 following an application for two business credit cards. “As a result, we’ve made the decision to close your account listed above. Keep in mind, you may receive a separate notice from us about other accounts you have with us.”
The notice gave the charity 30 days to see to their funds, which were said to have amounted to $270,000, and a second letter dated May 24 claimed the organization’s “risk profile no longer aligns with the bank’s risk tolerance.”
Along with the accounts of IA, which described itself on its website as a “ministry committed to seeking out indigenous Christian ministries to help them advance the Gospel of Christ through their ministry,” their partners Indigenous Advance Customer Center and the Servants of Christ Community Church, also known as the University House of Prayer, were reportedly impacted.
The Mail made note of points from the “Core Beliefs” section of the ministry’s website related to their Christian faith that stated in part, “We believe that all human life is sacred and created by God in His image. Human life is of inestimable worth in all its dimensions, including pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, and every other stage or condition from conception through natural death. (Ps. 139:13-16).”
They also noted, “that our identity as male and female is ordained by God as part of His creation. God created each person male or female and these distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen. 1:26-27),” and, “that Adam and Eve were made to complement each other in a one-flesh union. This creation ordinance establishes marriage between one man and one woman as the only proper context for all sexual relations. The New Testament makes clear that this relationship ultimately serves as a picture of the union between Christ and his Church. (Mk. 10:6-9).”
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti’s office confirmed receipt of the complaint wherein board members Steve Happ and Bob Phillips contended, “Our mission and work, supporting Ugandan children and families through indigenous Ugandan Ministries, has remained the same since we were founded and first opened our accounts with Bank of America. I am concerned that Bank of America cancelled our and our partners’ accounts because it disagrees with our religious views.”
In their own statement, a BofA spokesperson denied that beliefs had anything to do with the closing of the charity’s account and said, “We are proud to provide banking services to non-profit organizations affiliated with diverse faith communities throughout the United States.”
“Religious beliefs are not a factor in any account-closing decision. Our U.S. division that serves small businesses doesn’t offer banking services to organizations that provide debt collection services for a variety of risk-related considerations and doesn’t serve small businesses operating outside the United States,” added the spokesperson.
Since reaching out to Skrmetti, IA has obtained legal counsel from Alliance Defending Freedom and their senior vice president of corporate engagement Jeremy Tedesco told the Mail, “Americans should not have to fear losing their bank accounts because of their political or religious beliefs.”
“Yet instances of banks canceling accounts due to people’s speech or religion appear to be on the rise,” he asserted.
Earlier this year for example, MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell was debanked by the Minnesota Bank & Trust and Heartland Financial USA over an alleged “reputation risk” with concerns over the businessman’s outspoken political views.
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