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Bank of America’s Account Closures: Was it about Beliefs or Business?

There has been controversy about why Bank of America shut down the accounts of a group from Tennessee. 

This group, called Indigenous Advance, helps people in Uganda and shares Christian teachings. Even though they’ve been using Bank of America for a while, the bank sent them letters saying their accounts would be closed.

A legal group called Alliance Defending Freedom got involved. They say the bank’s letters didn’t explain much, except that Indigenous Advance was in a business that the bank didn’t want to serve anymore. This was a big deal because the group had over $270,000 in their account. Another group linked to Indigenous Advance and a church also got similar letters about their accounts.

Steve Happ, who started Indigenous Advance, was surprised and confused by the sudden closure. He tried asking the bank why, but they didn’t give him a clear answer. The problem wasn’t just that it was inconvenient. It hurt the people they were helping in Uganda. Because of the account closure, they couldn’t pay their workers or give help to the communities they work with.

Bank of America said they didn’t close the accounts because of the group’s Christian beliefs. They said it was because of something called debt collection services that Indigenous Advance’s partner did. The bank’s part that works with small businesses doesn’t want to serve organizations that do debt collection services, especially if they work outside the U.S.

But some people still think this might be about discrimination. Even though the bank said it’s about business, a legal expert named Jeremy Tedesco pointed out a bigger problem. He said big banks like Bank of America are using their rules about risk to keep certain kinds of businesses out. He mentioned another time when Chase Bank closed an account of a group that stood up for religious freedom.

Tedesco also talked about something called “Operation Chokepoint.” This was a plan started before to stop banking fraud, but it got criticized. It seemed like it made banks avoid working with certain types of businesses because of the risks. Tedesco thinks this might lead to excluding groups that have different beliefs from some powerful people.

So, the situation with Indigenous Advance and their closed accounts is making people talk about whether this was about what the group believes or just business decisions. People might investigate more to figure out what’s really going on. This whole thing shows how banks need to be careful about being fair to everyone, no matter what they believe.

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