Christian Charity Serving Impoverished Ugandans Accuses Bank of America of ‘Debanking’ Due to Religious Beliefs

A Christian charity that serves impoverished Ugandans, Indigenous Advance Ministries, has accused Bank of America of shutting down their account because of their religious views.  The organization, which has been with BofA since 2015, claims to have had $270,000 in their account before they were ‘debanked.’

According to their website, Indigenous Advance Ministries works with local charities that include Sanyuka Children’s Home in Mukono, that feeds, clothes, and cares for young orphans in the impoverished country.

In the ‘Core Beliefs’ section of their website, they affirm their evangelical Christian views including that ‘all human life is sacred… from conception to natural death.’

 The Memphis-based non-profit has now filed a complaint with the Tennessee Attorney-General’s office claiming the accounts were closed because of its ‘religious views,’ an accusation denied by BofA in a statement to DailyMail.com.

Image: @JEM_Books/X

The Daily Mail reports:

A spokesperson for BofA said the closure was related to a part of Indigenous’ operations which includes debt collection.

On its website, Indigenous said it is ‘dedicated to pursuing the recovery of overdue invoices on behalf of our clients.’

BofA claimed debt collection services are a clear violation of its policies. The Bank added it only became aware of this part of the charity’s operation when the new account was opened in January.

However, when DailyMail.com asked BofA to share the exact part of its policies that says it doesn’t service debt collection agencies, it was unable to do so.

Indigenous Advance Ministries board members Steve Happ and Bob Phillips penned a letter to the Tennessee attorney general’s office:

“Being forced to transition so quickly caused a great deal of trouble for us,” begins the letter. “It also disrupted our mission to Uganda in June and we were temporarily unable to pay salaries in Uganda. And we were left very confused.”

“Our mission and work, supporting Ugandan children and families through indigenous Ugandan Ministries, has remained the same since we were founded and first opened our accounts with Bank of America.”

Indigenous is represented by the legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

In a press release, ADF Senior Counsel and Senior Vice President for Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco said of the case, “No American should have to worry that a financial institution will deny them service based on their religious beliefs, but Bank of America appears to have done just that with Indigenous Advance. Canceling their account hurts those in need. It also sends a disturbing message to everyone—you can have your beliefs or your bank account, but you can’t have both.”

Indigenous Advance Ministries Founder Steve Happ shared, “Real people in Uganda rely on us, and they matter. 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.”

 

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