Major bank cancels account of religious nonprofit, demands donor list

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News

JPMorgan Chase Bank allegedly closed the bank account of a religious freedom political nonprofit and demanded a list of its donors as a condition for reinstatement, according to a shocking Christian Post report.

The National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF) — a nonpartisan, interfaith nonprofit led by former U.S. ambassador for religious freedom Sam Brownback — says its bank account was abruptly canceled without explanation.

Brownback, who previously served as governor and a U.S. Senator for Kansas, said NCRF initially had no problem opening an account at a Washington D.C. Chase branch, which is why he was “stunned” weeks later to learn the bank had suddenly shuttered the account without explanation. 

“I went to put another deposit in the account, and they said, ‘Your account has been canceled, we’ll be sending your money back to you,'” he said.

In fact, Brownback and NCRF Executive Director Justin Murff were so surprised by the cancellation, they decided it could only have resulted from some sort of error. When Murff reached out to Chase to see if their assumptions were correct, he was advised by a bank representative that “a note in the file read that Chase employees were not permitted to provide any further clarifying information to the customer.”

In perhaps the most alarming aspect of subsequent communications between NCRF and Chase, Brownback said that “someone from Chase eventually reached out to our executive director and informed him that it would be willing to reconsider doing business with the NCRF if we would provide our donor list, a list of political candidates we intended to support, and a full explanation of the criteria by which we would endorse and support those candidates.”

Brownback said the question was “entirely inappropriate,” adding, “Does Chase ask every customer what politicians they support and why before deciding whether or not to accept them as a customer?

To date, Brownback says he is still waiting for an explanation. He penned a letter to Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Sept. 27, which he shared with Fox Business, demanding an answer. He pointedly noted in the missive that Dimon lauded the importance of religious freedom the previous week in testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

“In your testimony, you referred to religious freedom as a ‘foundational belief’ but Chase Bank recently decided to close the account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom, a nonpartisan, multi-faith nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the right of all Americans to freely live out their faith,” Brownback wrote.

“Why the cancellation? Why the secrecy and lack of transparency? Why is Chase hiding its reasons and intentions from a client that seeks only to serve the public good and defend religious freedom for every American?” he continued. 

NCRF is a multi-faith organization that includes members who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu. 

Member Rabbi Yaakov Menken, who also serves as managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, said Chase’s actions reflected an alarming trend of major institutions discriminating against people of faith. 

“I’ve never heard of a charity being called upon to reveal its donor base before getting a bank account,” Menken told Fox. “Are they claiming that to support religious freedom in the United States, you need to be a foreign actor who shouldn’t be contributing to a nonprofit?”

Menken, who joined NCRF due to his concerns over growing antisemitism in the U.S., added that “If they’re going to choke off the sources of funding from an organized organization like this, who won’t they cut off?

“To shut off the funding of terror organizations is totally understandable and totally commendable. This is an entirely different matter: choking off somebody else’s freedom to express their opinion,” he added.

NCRF recently launched an aptly-named “#ChasedAway” campaign as a platform through which other faith-based organizations can report similar experiences.

Brownback was appointed as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom by former President Trump in July of 2021. NCRF is a 501(c)4 political action nonprofit whose stated mission is focused on “defending the right of everyone in America to live one’s faith freely.” The organization frequently endorses political candidates, ballot initiatives, and legislation that are aligned with its purpose of preserving religious freedom.