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Report: 70% of banks target clients based on conservative, religious beliefs

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The majority of U.S. banks are targeting clients based on their political and religious beliefs, a new report found.

Banks are doing so partially in response to Biden administration directives, a U.S. House Judiciary Committee investigation found through the efforts of its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

The subcommittee is holding its tenth hearing on the “weaponization of the federal government” against Americans on Wednesday after spending years addressing the issue.

At a recent hearing, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco cited examples of the federal government “attempting an end-run around the Constitution by outsourcing censorship to some of the most powerful corporations the world has ever known.”

ADF published its second annual Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index, which found that nearly half of the largest finance companies “use problematic terms of service” and seven of the 10 largest commercial banks “maintain problematic reputational risk” or “hate speech policies.”

The Index scored 75 leading technology platforms, banks, financial service providers, and media companies on 42 benchmarks related to viewpoint-based cancellations, employee policies related to religious and social beliefs, institutional advocacy efforts related to religious freedom, free speech, and transparency, among others.

ADF identified red flags including companies mandating vendors implement so-called Diversity Equity and Inclusion policies, promoting so-called Critical Race Theory policies, prohibiting employees from creating faith-based Employee Resource Groups and from giving to religious charities; implementing policies “that likely discriminate against religious nonprofits by preventing them from receiving corporate grants or discounts because of what they say or believe,” among others.

Since releasing its 2022 index, ADF says eight companies improved their overall scores: Fidelity National Information Services, M&T Bank, GoDaddy, Citigroup, Silicon Valley Bank, Morgan Stanley, Meta, and Adobe. It notes that within one year, JP Morgan Chase reversed its “politicized de-banking policies.” Airbnb, Alphabet, Amazon, ebay and Microsoft received the worst scores.

The Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government also has released reports related to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network “colluding with” the largest U.S. financial institutions to monitor customers based on their ideological beliefs based on a “discredited and morally bankrupt Southern Poverty Law Center list.” The SPLC labeled Christian organizations, including ADF, the Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, Pacific Justice Institute, Ruth Institute, and others, as among “1,225 hate and antigovernment extremist groups.”

Over the years, the subcommittee has released reports on “the weaponization of the federal government,” including the FBI targeting Roman Catholic Americans and parents at school board meetings, The Center Square reported.

The subcommittee’s 10th weaponization hearing on Wednesday will examine the “use of lawfare tactics to weaponize the rule of law.”

The hearings are the first of their kind at a time when federal censorship efforts have escalated.

Under the Biden administration, the Department of Homeland Security announced its plan to create the first “disinformation board” to censor Americans tapping a director who sang about political opponents “laundering disinformation” to a Disney themed-Mary Poppins melody, The Center Square reported. DHS has since canceled the creation of the bureau.

The subcommittee held six hearings on the “weaponization of the federal government” in 2023 and three so far this year. They have addressed the “politicization” of the FBI and Department of Justice “attack[ing] American civil liberties;” federal employees directing social media companies to censor users’ speech, including after the “Twitter files” were released; FBI whistleblowers’ allegations of retaliation; “Big Tech’s collusion with out-of-control government agencies to silence speech” including the use of “AI-powered censorship and propaganda tools;” big banks surveilling Americans’ private financial data based on alleged political or religious beliefs; and the “Biden White House’s censorship regime.”

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