Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a consumer complaint on behalf of Indigenous Advance Ministries after Bank of America inexplicably canceled the ministry’s account.
In operation since 2015, Indigenous Advance Ministries collaborates with Ugandan ministries to furnish essentials to orphaned and susceptible children, raise Christian families, and provide vocational skills training and mentorship to college students and young adults.
From its inception up until April 2023, Indigenous Advance Ministries maintained deposit and credit card accounts with Bank of America.
According to the complaint, the ministry received a letter in April stating, “We’ve made the decision to restrict your deposit account ending in [redacted] in the next 21 days and close it within 30 days from the date of this letter.”
The only explanation the ministry received from the bank was: “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.”
A later letter stated that Indigenous Advance Ministries “no longer aligns with the bank’s risk tolerance.” No further explanation was provided.
The complaint filed by Alliance Defending Freedom attests that the necessity to transition to another bank had substantial implications for the Indigenous Advance Ministries, including “payroll, accounting, accounts payable and receivable,” and other business-related activities. They also attested that the unexpected changes disrupted a planned mission trip to Uganda and resulted in a delay in the payment of salaries in Uganda.
The complaint expresses the concern that the bank terminated the organization’s accounts, as well as those of its partners, due to the organization’s religious beliefs. If this is true, it prompts scrutiny of potential violations of consumer protection laws or other relevant legal frameworks.
Bank of America’s own Code of Conduct, the complaint attests, expressly underscores its commitment to advancing “diversity and inclusion” across multiple categories, including religion (as indicated on pages 10 and 35 of the Code of Conduct).
“If a bank is too big to fail, it’s too big for bias,” ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross said in a statement on Alliance Defending Freedom Media. “State and federal governments grant banks and other financial institutions wide-reaching benefits to ensure everyone has access to essential financial services, not to play politics. Bank of America should respect everyone’s freedom to participate in the marketplace without fear of political or anti-religious bias.”
“Real people in Uganda rely on us, and they matter,” said Indigenous Advance Ministries Founder Steve Happ. “We have five employees in Uganda, and they had to wait an extra week for a paycheck. That may not sound like much in the West, but in Uganda, that can mean a week without eating a full meal. At the end of the day, our purpose is to serve people in need in Uganda. No bank should hinder efforts to help widows, orphans, and the impoverished.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, marriage and family, and the sanctity of life.
Alliance Defending Freedom International, a branch of Alliance Defending Freedom, engages in legal representation for clients across international courtrooms. Collaborating with thousands of lawyers worldwide, they strive to tackle underlying issues and establish landmark legal successes at the highest tiers of law and governance. Their efforts also involve nurturing upcoming leaders to drive transformative changes that will positively impact generations to come.