Conservatives Face Dangerous New Trend For Speaking Out - Becoming 'Debanked'
By Sarah Holliday/Washington StandMay 23, 2023
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For David Bahnsen, cancel culture has plagued many aspects of American life - and financial institutions are no exception.
JPMorgan Chase & Company has been accused by 19 Republican states of "debanking" (the involuntary cancellation of bank accounts) members of conservative or religious groups. With rising frequency, clients associated with conservative or religious beliefs are reporting being expelled from financial institutions, including Sam Brownback, former U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom and current head of the nonprofit National Committee for Religious Freedom.
"We've just heard of way too many groups and entities, particularly religious-associated ones, that have been canceled by their providers, and we want to start seeing some of these cases investigated," Brownback commented.
Bahnsen, who is founder and chief investment officer of the Bahnsen Group, has made plans to confront JPMorgan concerning their alleged religious and political discrimination. As a shareholder, Bahnsen wants to take a stand and initiate dialogue with JPMorgan as a means of reporting what's happening. The true controversy, as Bahnsen sees it, is rooted in JPMorgan's refusal to entertain the discussion proposed.
On a recent edition of "Washington Watch," Bahnsen noted how Christians often recoil from companies who make controversial decisions. However, he also articulated how, when they are being attacked by companies they are investing in, Christians should want to fight back and urge accountability so that companies such as JPMorgan -- who promise inclusivity and "oppose discrimination of any form" -- will genuinely live up to those commitments.
While Bahnsen sees these acts of discrimination as concerning, he made it clear the problem does not hinge upon the financial institutions. The root of the issue, as Bahnsen put it, is within the heart of "woke corporate America." "The banks are still pretending to be neutral. That's a good thing," Bahnsen said. "Now, I don't think they are neutral, but at least they're pretending. Other companies are just flat out admitting that they have no regard for people of faith or people of a different political belief system."
Bahnsen emphasized how being a shareholder helps him fight back. "I've been a shareholder at JPMorgan for 15 years, so I have every fiduciary right to pursue this. So, I think there's a difference in that agenda. I'm honestly not being an activist. I'm being an engaged investor. I think there's a difference."
How should Christians react to being debanked, particularly if they aren't shareholders? Bahnsen explained how people can stand up to cancel culture without compromising their Christian witness. Bahnsen made clear that Christians must first seek the reason for the company's actions by discerning between two key factors: are you being treated unfairly, or is this financial institution punishing you for negligence?
Make sure it's "not because you forgot some paperwork or you're not providing documentation," Bahnsen said. "We don't want any false alarms. We don't want to go be the boy who cried wolf, if you will. It is incumbent on us to keep our side of the street clean, do what we're supposed to do. And then if there is real debanking and discrimination, it's going to give us the moral authority to do something about it and not have it kind of embarrass us later."
Should action be required, Bahnsen suggests reporting the discrimination to groups or people already dedicated to fighting against these issues. "Get that information to people and then from there it will get channeled. ... Put it in the queue, if you will, for activity, and I'll be one of those people. I'll fight this good fight as long as I have to. I'm not going to put up with it for long. It needs to change."
Last September, Christians were given a wake up call to the dangers of financial companies holding too much power when popular online payment processor PayPal announced impending updates to their Acceptable Use Policies (AUP). Reported first by The Daily Wire, the policy update stated that it would debit users up to $2,500 if they engaged in banned activity such as "promoting misinformation" or "hate," effective November 3.
As the headline spread across the media, the idea that PayPal's terms gave the company the right to withdraw several grand from bank accounts did not sit well with users, sparking outrage among many who viewed these actions as Big Tech censoring speech.
The DailyWire's Candace Owens beckoned her following to exit the platform, tweeting, "Just moved all money I had in my PayPal account out of it. And I very much suggest you do the same... #PayPal is dead."
"Hercules" actor Kevin Sorbo added his thoughts to Twitter, posting, "PayPal isn't sorry, they're just mad they got caught." Another conservative influencer tweeted his warnings on what this policy would mean for those who speak out on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, considered "discrimination."
Even former PayPal president David Marcus tweeted out his criticism of the policy, saying, "@PayPal's new AUP goes against everything I believe in. A private company now gets to decide to take your money if you say something they disagree with. Insanity," to which multibillionaire Elon Musk responded, "Agreed."
PayPal quickly reversed the decision after massive backlash and walked back the policy updates claiming they were never intended to be released if that is to be believed.
The idea that you could debit a person's bank account or financial accounts based on some statement or belief that they had that wasn't in alignment with a company's view of the world would be devastating in this current environment to conservatives and Christians.
What we are seeing now with JPMorgan and other big banks is just a more subtle and deceptive way to strip Christian and Conservative organizations of the ability to raise funds and operate effectively by having to switch banks. Soon, it may be difficult to find a bank that is willing to work with Conservative Christian organizations as more and more banking consolidation happens. It may also only be a matter of time until the big banks try something as blazen as what PayPal was scheming. With digital currency on the horizon, this risk will manifest itself ten-fold.