Today In Soft Totalitarianism
When they came for a bipolar anti-Semitic rap superstar, I did not care, because I am not a bipolar anti-Semitic rap superstar. And then they came for those who advocate for religious liberty. Sam Brownback writes about the decision of JP Morgan Chase to close the account of the nonprofit religious liberty advocacy group he helps run:
While I was glad to hear Dimon speak proudly of America and our freedoms, I am concerned that his bank fails to live up to such lofty ideals. He referred to religious freedom as a “foundational belief,” but his bank recently decided to close the account of the National Committee for Religious Freedom, a nonpartisan, faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to defending the right of everyone in America to live one's faith freely.
The NCRF is a diverse organization representing people from every faith and walk of life. Our bipartisan National Advisory Board includes members who are Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Latter-Day Saints, and Muslim.
After organizing the NCRF as a nonprofit group, our executive director and I opened a bank account at JPMorgan Chase & Co . We chose Chase because of its national footprint and the multigenerational banking relationships our team had with the bank. Our experience was initially very positive.
However, three weeks after opening our nonprofit business checking account, we received a letter notifying us that Chase had decided to “end their relationship” with the National Committee for Religious Freedom and that our account would be closed. The bank actually closed our account before we received the letter.
We were surprised at being canceled by Chase. When our executive director called to see if this was an error, he was informed that “a note in the file read that Chase employees were not permitted to provide any further clarifying information to the customer.”
Why the cancellation ? Why the secrecy and lack of transparency? Why was Chase hiding its reasons and intentions for closing the account of a client that seeks to serve the public good and defend religious freedom for every person in America? After all, in the words of the bank’s CEO, religious freedom is a core value that forms part of the fabric that binds us together as a country. So why cancel an organization that exists to protect the most foundational of core American values?
When Chase closed our account, it triggered a chain reaction that led to other financial service accounts being closed and caused the fledgling organization to experience unexpected operational and financial challenges. Thankfully, we were able to open a new account at another bank.
The decision to cancel the NCRF was described by multiple Chase employees as one from the “corporate office.” It was initially explained to us by someone at the Chase corporate office that the decision was final and nonrevocable.
To this day, the NCRF does not have a clear reason as to why our account was closed after only three weeks. We certainly hadn’t made any transactions in that short amount of time that would have triggered any regulatory red flags.
What shocked and surprised me the most was when 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. It was entirely inappropriate to ask for this type of information. Does Chase ask every customer what politicians they support and why before deciding whether or not to accept them as a customer?
This is truly shocking. Why would they do this? All I can figure is that they took a look at the diverse NCRF board, and saw that Family Research Council chief Tony Perkins is there. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated Perkins as a "hate" figure, because of his orthodox Christian stance on LGBT.
They're going to ultimately debank you, you know. If not Chase, then somebody. This is how the regime works. They're going to make it more and more difficult for dissenters from wokeness to participate in society and the economy.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, a bill is coming before the legislature that would allow the state to seize from parents minor children who claim to be trans, on the grounds that their parents' refusal to affirm their gender identity is child abuse. I'm not kidding:
Democratic Virginia Delegate Elizabeth Guzman told WJLA on Thursday she will introduce a bill that will expand the state's definition of child abuse and neglect to include parents and guardian who do not affirm their LGBT children.
"The day that Governor Youngkin wanted to implement this policy, I immediately texted the policy lead of that committee and said, this is how we're going to push back," Guzman told the local news outlet.
"It could be a felony, it could be a misdemeanor, but we know that CPS charge could harm your employment, could harm their education, because nowadays many people do a CPS database search before offering employment."
It's always the Democrats. Always. The Republicans could have a field day with this stuff, but the national Republicans are so afraid of being called bigots that they usually wimp out. Ordinary people have got to light a hot fire under the GOP's backside, and make it take action. The only way to stop banks from debanking people for political reasons is through the law. Getting a bank account is not like buying a wedding cake. You can't participate in the economy without a bank account. If we had a Republican Party worth a damn, its candidates and leaders would be raising hell about debanking!
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Maybe they will, but look, readers, you'd be a fool to count on the Republicans. Just this morning at this conference I'm at in Chicago, I was talking to a longtime family rights activist, who told me, "It's always the same thing with the Republicans. They talk a good talk, but when they get in, it's always open up the bank for the Pentagon, and give Wall Street whatever it wants." True.
Please, if you haven't read Live Not By Lies yet, buy a copy. It's now out in paperback, and therefore more affordable. There's practical advice in that book from those who endured Soviet totalitarianism, regarding the kinds of strategies we are going to need to learn and implement to be resilient in the face of what the Regime is preparing for us. We are in what I call a "Kolakovic Moment," in memory of the heroic Croatian Jesuit Tomislav Kolakovic, who organized the underground church in Slovakia in the window of freedom the Slovaks had before Communism took over. The bishops of Slovakia tried to shut him down, telling him that he was alarming people. But Father Kolakovic knew what was coming, and he knew that the Slovak church would be no match for totalitarianism in power. Because some young Catholic laymen and priests believed him, and got busy preparing, the Slovak church was able to survive persecution.
We have to use the freedom we have today to prepare for trouble tomorrow. It's not an either-or; we can and must fight back politically against these attacks on our liberty. But at the same time, we have to make concrete plans, and implement concrete strategies, for how to live in truth if we lose the political battle.