Christian legal firm celebrates win as Chase scales back 'debanking' policy

A Christian law firm is applauding a major bank chain for rolling back one of its controversial policies that led to the de-banking of several conservative individuals and nonprofit organizations over the last few years. 

JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the U.S., rolled back its WePay service that required merchants to refrain from accepting payments or using the service for activities related to “social risk issues,” which the bank defined as anything “subject to allegation and impacts related to hate groups, systemic racism, sexual harassment and corporate culture.”

The language was removed from the company’s WePay terms of service, the Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF) discovered this month.

“We support clients around the globe and in every state in the U.S., across industries, religions, and political affiliations,” a JPMorgan Chase spokesperson told Fox News Digital in a statement on Thursday evening.

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“Chase has used this policy to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint,” ADF senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco told Fox News Digital in an interview. “The policy itself is a risk to every single person who uses WePay and Chase, the biggest bank in America.”

“There’s millions of people where it’s a threat to them being denied or losing payment processing,” Tedesco continued. “So, it is significant that they eliminated that policy. The next step we think for Chase is because they’ve been saying, ‘we’re firmly committed to not discriminating against people on their religious or political views,’ in different documents. That statement, we want them to put in their forward-facing customer policies. That’s the next step.”

In recent years, Chase and other major banking chains have booted people from their services without much explanation. In one incident, Chase closed the account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF), a political nonprofit, without explanation in 2022. 

That same year, Chase abruptly terminated the account of former U.S. Ambassador Sam Brownback’s National Committee for Religious Freedom without providing a reason. 

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“Americans shouldn’t have to fear that they can lose access to their bank accounts or payment processing because of their religious and political beliefs,” Tedesco said. “And we think it’s significant that Chase took this step.”

Another incident in 2021 involved WePay denying ticket-payment processing services for a Republican event hosted by a nonprofit organization, Defense of Liberty. The event featured Donald Trump, Jr., and WePay initially denied services by citing policies against providing services connected to “hate … racial intolerance … or items or activities that encourage, promote, facilitate, or instruct others regarding the same.” 

At the time, JPMorgan Chase reversed the decision and said the group “didn’t violate the terms of service” after Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick called out the bank and warned that the state would reconsider doing business with the bank because of what he viewed as ideological discrimination.

To encourage private companies to uphold freedom of speech, ADF launched a Business Index that ranks companies based on their own policies.

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More than 90% of businesses on the index rely “on divisive concepts like Critical Race Theory in its employee training materials,” according to ADF. “A plurality (40%) of employees polled in the 2023 Freedom at Work Survey say this approach divides, rather than unites, colleagues, while the same number say they are less likely to trust others or feel included at work if they were told in a company-sponsored training that they were complicit in racism or oppression based on their skin color, religion, or sex.”

Tedesco’s group launched its most updated index this week. 

Chase’s rollback comes as, last month, a group of 15 financial officers representing 13 states issued a warning to Bank of America over its alleged practices of “politicized de-banking” targeting conservatives.

Fox News Digital’s Eric Revell contributed to this report. 

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