- - Monday, April 1, 2024

Back in the summer of 2023, a story broke that some large corporations and banks were weaponizing business and financial systems against conservative faith-based organizations. The primary action that caused this reaction occurred in April of last year when the Bank of America closed the accounts of Indigenous Advance Customer Center, LLC, a sister organization, and a church associated with the ministries. The reason given … “Upon review of [the] account(s) we have determined you’re operating in a business type we have chosen not to service at Bank of America.”

The bottom line — if someone at the top of the decision-making process determines that “it’s reputationally risky to serve Christian or other organizations that the radical Left disagrees with,” they can just cut them off from both depositing and expending funds.

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Because Indigenous Advance was trying to assist primarily in Uganda, its founder and board member, Steve Happ, was forced to make his way back to Memphis to try to work out a banking solution while the very folks who were being helped were left in starvation mode because the payment of invoices was frozen along with their donation monies. Essentially the actions of Bank of America left these impoverished people who were already existing on a day-to-day basis without the survival assistance they so greatly needed.

Many of us pointed out at that time that Uganda is a Christian country in Africa that has been resistant to the push of the alphabet sex initiatives in the foreign policy of President Joe Biden’s administration. Because of this conservative relief organization’s ties to Uganda that would not yield to the Biden administration’s aberrational sex initiatives, there were voices of concern at that time, including mine, that raised the specter of governmental influence involved in this sordid process.

We were also reminded at that time that this unfortunate process had already occurred in Canada when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weaponized the financial system in his country to put a halt to the trucker COVID strike. It also manifested itself again in the United States when J. P. Morgan Chase did the same thing to the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF), a faith based non-profit organization led by Sam Brownback, former U. S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom.

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Troubling information also revealed that the parameters of using financial restrictions to squelch conservative Christian dissidents had its origins under Barack Obama, the then-president — and perhaps, current president — of these United States. “Operation Choke Point” was created under the Obama administration theoretically to deter fraud, but it has also had far reaching consequences, perhaps intentional or otherwise. Though the provisions of this governmental initiative were largely shut down by the Trump administration, language hidden within its provisions apparently provided banks and other businesses with the opportunity to financially disenfranchise conservative Christian organizations by leveraging their own “risk tolerance” policies in order to “box out disfavored but legal business operations.”

For whatever reason, there was not much more than a ripple in even Christian media at the time because any connection between the government and the simple “woke” act of Bank of America appeared to many to be tenuous. However, the greatest concerns of conservative Christian agencies appear to be coming true based on new information now available thanks to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. If you were paying attention, it was this group that recently has drawn attention to “alarming evidence of federal law enforcement engaging in broad financial surveillance and prying into the private transactions of American consumers.”

Reporting on these findings, The Daily Signal, which is the reporting arm of the Heritage Foundation Oversight Project, highlighted some particulars showing that the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), apparently reacting in some measure to the January 6 “riots or potential violence” issued an email to the heads of major banks on January 21, 2021. This correspondence highlighted in particular a report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and Global Disinformation Index titled “Bankrolling Bigotry: An Overview of the Online Funding Strategies of American Hate Groups.” These banks who received the email that was sent under the subject line of “Capitol Riots” included Western Union, KeyBank, Wells Fargo, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Mitsubishi UF J Financial Group. Not only that, but The Daily Signal is also reporting that only one day prior, another email went out to various banks noting that agency staff “had combed through Zelle payment messages for indications of involvement in the January 6 events utilizing search terms that included words like ‘Trump, MAGA, Patriot, Kamala and Biden.’”

According to The Daily Signal and the “Bankrolling Bigotry” report, all of the above entities and more were included alongside the usual culprits like white supremacists, black supremacists, and holocaust deniers. The list should look remarkably familiar to even a casual observer since it bears an almost identical resemblance to the “Hate Map” adopted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) who, in and of itself, has participated in some rather nefarious activities all in the name of left-wing causes such as alphabet sex groupings, illegal immigration, and Black Live Matters. Apparently, their version of a “Hate Map” is utilized to raise money and as a scare tactic for would be donors and also to ostracize any legitimate group that might oppose their heinous agenda. In addition, the “Bankrolling Bigotry” report goes on to call for platforms such as Amazon, cryptocurrency sites, and crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and FaceBook Donations to be prohibited from allowing “hate groups” to raise money through their formats. Thankfully, it should be noted here that at least 20 states’ Attorneys General have now drawn attention to this real threat of “debanking.”

While America has birthed and even coddled real “hate groups” from time to time on each end of the spectrum, it seems at the very least that the designation for a hate group appears to be “evolving” directionally proportional to any opponent of the current culture and particularly left-wing politics as exemplified by the SPLC. So, who are these horrible entities that pose such a threat to our American way of life and our democracy according to our own government? Let me name a few so designated by the Treasury Department: The Alliance Defense Fund, The Liberty Council, The Family Research Council, The Ruth Institute (which aims to help survivors of our so-called sexual revolution), and The American College of Pediatricians (the conservative counterpart to the American Academy of Pediatricians). Many of these are well known to us at Southern Evangelical Seminary and are, in truth, partners with us from time to time in the fight for religious freedom. Who would have ever “thunked it”!

But as the TV commercials say, “Wait! There’s More!”

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Not to be outdone by the Treasury Department, Miquel Cardona’s Department of Education, which is about as useful as female mammary glands on a boar hog, has also gotten into the act. Just a month prior to the Bank of America pulling the plug on the bank accounts of Indigenous Advance (see above), a meeting occurred with various individuals and groups along with high level staffers from the Department of Education. One of the major agenda items involved how the invitees could work together to curb the rising parental concern and activity with local Boards of Education regarding transgender issues and the overt use of sexually charged material with even pre-kindergarten children. In addition to representatives from the Department of Education, there were at least two more interesting attendees. One reportedly included the Vice President Kamala Harris, fresh from single handedly solving the southern border crisis as the czar of those efforts. But this is where the plot thickens even more. High ranking representatives from the SPLC were also in attendance.

Wouldn’t you know it; within less than a year subsequent to the meeting, Christian and conservative parental rights groups cropped up on the SPLC’s “Hate Map.” This time the list was expanded to include Moms for Liberty, Parents Defending Education, No Left Turn in Education, Courage is a Habit, and others. The department also appears to have hosted training that described groups the SPLC has attacked as “our opposition.” Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice summed up the sentiment succinctly when she said, “It is shocking to see in writing the evidence that innocent parents were harassed and targeted by their own federal government for exercising their right to free speech and for speaking out during the COVID school shutdowns.”

The Daily Signal article went further to show that SPLC leaders and staff have met with White House officials at least 11 times since January 2021, when Mr. Biden took office. The record also reveals that the president nominated a SPLC attorney to a federal appeals court. All of this raises a concerning question of how much influence the SPLC has in the current and past Democrat administrations.  Along with that, if the SPLC is a credible partner with the federal government sufficient to create “target lists” for the weaponization of the various law enforcement agencies, bureaucracy and judiciary of the federal government, then the proverbial wolves are being housed with the flock. If our government is intent on silencing Christians and other conservatives by allowing the SPLC to make the determination as to who goes on the hit list, then there remains very little protection left for any citizen of this nation. Speaking very bluntly, what business does the federal government and its agencies have in promoting the twisted hate accusations of the SPLC? Are we, as Americans, too blind to see that this kind of thing has happened at least once before in the lead up to the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1930s?

At Southern Evangelical Seminary, through the storms we will remain standing tall in proclaiming the call of Christ on our lives and refusing to be bullied into submission from our quest by big business, big banks, or even our own big government. There are voices joining the chorus on a daily basis, and yours would be welcomed in our choir. Nevertheless, you should count the cost because it may be high, including the loss of banking services, the loss of charitable tax exemptions, freedom, or even our lives. We have done the computation at SES. Our future is fixed in that we will continue to be about the proclamation of the Gospel message together with the logical defense of the traditional Christian faith. That is the very foundation of our past, and it is the destiny of our future. We will not yield our freedom to worship and serve our living Christ to lesser constructs of misguided men and women. Like so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will be standing steadfast in the real truth of God’s Amazing Grace that has brought us safe this far by binding Christ’s Church together for 2,000 years and that will inevitably lead us home. We freely choose to stand and live in the mercy of the Cross and the power of Christ’s resurrection until we attain that glorious hope that will come in the clouds of the eastern sky. After all, the Gospel is the only truth that matters, and by the Grace of God, it will prevail though all Hell should come against it.

After a successful career as a lawyer and judge, Judge Phil Ginn retired as the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge for the 24th Judicial District in North Carolina. Throughout his 22-year judicial career, he had the privilege of holding court in almost 50% of the county seats in North Carolina. Currently, Judge Ginn serves as the president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (ses.edu) and is a regular contributor to Christianity.com and The Washington Times. Judge Ginn has also been featured on Fox News, CBN, Newsmax, Decision Magazine, The Christian Post, Townhall, and many others. 

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