15 AGs accuse Bank of America of 'discriminatory behavior': 'A serious threat to religious freedom'

A Bank of America branch in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 13, 2011.
A Bank of America branch in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 13, 2011. | iStock/robwilson39

A coalition of 15 Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to Bank of America earlier this week demanding answers to allegations that the financial behemoth has discriminated against customers based on political and religious viewpoints. The company has denied such allegations. 

The group, led by GOP Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, expressed concern that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company "is responsible for some of the worst-known instances of debanking" while at the same time cooperating with the federal government to provide "innocuous" private information to paint some conservative customers as "potential domestic terrorists."

"Your discriminatory behavior is a serious threat to free speech and religious freedom, is potentially illegal, and is causing political and regulatory backlash," Monday's letter reads. "Your bank needs to be transparent with and assure us, its shareholders, and others that it will not continue to de-bank customers for their speech or religious exercise."

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A spokesperson for Bank of America pushed back against any claim that they engage in discriminatory practices.

"Religious beliefs are not a factor in any account-closing decision," the spokesperson said in a statement to The Christian Post. "We are proud to provide banking services to non-profit organizations affiliated with diverse faith communities throughout the United States."

"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," the spokesperson added.

The letter contends that Bank of America has shuttered the accounts of multiple religious groups within the past three years.

In 2020, the bank sent a notice to Timothy Two Project International informing the pastor-training ministry that its account was being closed because they were "operating a business type we have chosen not to service."

The attorneys general noted that in April 2023, Bank of America closed the account of Indigenous Advance, a Memphis-based charity that has been serving Indigenous people in Uganda since 2015.

Echoing its letter to Timothy Two Project, Bank of America sent multiple letters to Indigenous Advance, informing them that they were "operating in a business type we have chosen not to service" and that its credit account "no longer aligns with the bank's risk tolerance."

Servants of Christ, a Memphis church that sometimes donated to Indigenous Advance, also had its Bank of America account closed with no explanation other than they had been deemed the wrong "business type," according to Fox News.

When the situation with Indigenous Advance and Servants of Christ drew international media attention, Bank of America claimed the ministries' accounts were canceled because they engaged in "debt collection" and operated internationally. According to the attorneys general, both of these claims are false.

Meanwhile, a report released last month from the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government found that Bank of America and other major U.S. financial institutions provided the FBI and the law enforcement branch of the U.S. Treasury Department with private financial information without a warrant.

"Tactics included keyword filtering of transactions, targeting terms like 'MAGA' and 'TRUMP,' as well as purchases of books, religious texts, firearms-related items, and recreational stores, like Cabela's, Bass Pro Shop, and Dick's Sporting Goods," the Judiciary Committee said in a press release. "This surveillance extended beyond criminal suspicion, likely encompassing millions of Americans with conservative viewpoints or Second Amendment interests."

The attorneys general note that viewpoint discrimination has seemingly emerged in other major U.S. financial institutions such as JPMorgan Chase, which made headlines in 2022 when they closed the bank account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF). 

The nonpartisan, multi-faith religious freedom nonprofit, founded by former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, a former governor of Kansas, was not given an explanation for why the account was closed.

NCRF Executive Director Justin Murff told The Christian Post that Chase's conditions for reinstatement included providing a list of donors who have given more than 10% of NCRF's operating budget and a list of candidates NCRF intends to support.

In response to allegations of discrimination, Chase told Fox Business at the time that they would never "exit a client relationship due to their political or religious affiliation."

The attorneys general warned Bank of America that they are potentially exposing themselves to legal and regulatory risk with their apparent behavior and urged the institution to exhibit more transparency.

"As attorneys general of our respective states, we take great interest in protecting a culture of free speech within our borders," they wrote. "You are the second-largest bank in the country and have nearly 15% of all domestic deposits. You appear to be using this power to punish conservative and religious customers by handing their data over to federal law enforcement and even cancelling their accounts."

"This not only undermines free speech and religious freedom, but also is potentially illegal and could lead to investigations, litigation, regulation, and political backlash," they added.

Within 30 days, the attorneys general asked Bank of America to provide them with a written report about its account cancellation policies. They particularly requested the bank to clarify how it assesses terms such as "risk tolerance," "reputational risk," "hate" and "intolerance," and whether they factor in a customer's speech and religion or public perception.

The letter demands Bank of America update its terms of service to state that the company does not discriminate against customers based on religious or political speech. 

The letter asked the company to participate in the Viewpoint Diversity Score's Business Index and support shareholder proposals protecting religious and political diversity.

In addition to Kobach, the other GOP attorneys general who signed the letter include Steve Marshall of Alabama, Tim Griffin of Arkansas, Raul Labrador of Idaho, Todd Rokita of Indiana, Brenna Bird of Iowa, Lynn Fitch of Mississippi, Andrew Bailey of Missouri, Austin Knudsen of Montana, Mike Hilgers of Nebraska, Alan Wilson of South Carolina, Marty Jackley of South Dakota, Ken Paxton of Texas, Sean Reyes of Utah and Jason Miyares of Virginia.

Jeremy Tedesco, who serves as senior counsel and senior vice president for Corporate Engagements at the conservative legal nonprofit Alliance for Defending Freedom, said last year that Bank of America and other large banks are leveraging their own "risk tolerance" policies to "box out disfavored but legal business operations."

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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