https://www.theepochtimes.com/national-committee-for-religious-freedom-claims-chase-bank-ignores-requests-to-explain-account-shutdown_4804889.html

A nonprofit dedicated to promoting religious freedom has had its Chase Bank account shutdown, but no reason has been given why, the nonprofit’s founder and executive director have said.

Sam Brownback, founder of the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF) and a former governor of Kansas, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, and Rev. Justin Murff, the NCRF’s executive director, have expressed frustration over what they see as a heavy-handed measure taken with practically no explanation and no recourse for the bank’s former customers.

“We’ve written to JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon; it’s been a good two weeks now, and have not heard anything back and have not been directly contacted by the bank. They sent the funds back to us, and they just closed the account,” Brownback told The Epoch Times.

Brownback described the NCRF as a nonprofit entity, classifiable for tax purposes as a 501(c)(4), with an interfaith character including members of the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu faiths, and said that it is bipartisan in nature and open to a range of political viewpoints and affiliations. But the bank is clearly not satisfied with Brownback’s or Murff’s characterization of NCRF and its status and composition.

Then Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback speaks at the Department of State in Washington on June 21, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

‘Decision Was Permanent’

According to Murff, the organization opened the account on April 15. Only three weeks later, while Murff was attending a conference in Sweden, he received a call from Brownback, who told him of having attempted to make a deposit only to find out that the bank had closed the account. When Murff reached out to the bank to try to find out what had happened, further surprises were in store, he said.

“I called Chase, and they told me there was a note on the account saying that the decision had been made at the corporate office to close the account and that the decision was permanent, it was irreversible, and there was a flag stipulating that they were not to provide the customer with any further information,” Murff told The Epoch Times.

“I said, ‘I know there’s an escalation team at Chase,’ so I had a phone call with the bank and told them I didn’t understand what was going on. And they told me the exact same thing,” he added.

Murff pursued the matter doggedly and had three separate calls with representatives of the bank on June 1 but everyone he spoke to kept passing him on to someone else, he recalled.

Finally, Murff was able to get in touch with a New York-based official who told Murff that he and his colleagues had failed to provide the bank with the requested documents within 60 days of opening the account.

But the bank’s motives for closing the account remain unclear, given the account was allegedly closed within three weeks, which is under the mentioned 60 days.

“We don’t understand why they would do something like this, but they told us this decision was secret and made at the corporate level,” said Brownback, adding that other organizations, whose names he is not at liberty to disclose at this point in time, have met similar treatment.

“We’ll continue to reach out to Chase Bank and see if we can get an answer from them, and we’ll also continue to try and collect other entities to go public with what happened to them,” he said.

A Chase bank branch on Madison Avenue in Midtown New York
A Chase Bank branch on Madison Avenue in Midtown New York, on Jan. 8, 2016. (Ingrid Longauer/Epoch Times)

In the meantime, the NCRF has opened a new account with a different bank.

Both Brownback, in his letter to CEO Dimon, and Murff, in his discussion with The Epoch Times, emphasized the irony that Dimon himself, during testimony last month before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, specifically singled out freedom of religion as one of the advantages of living in America in 2022.

“We live in the greatest country in the world predicated on foundational beliefs in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise, the sanctity of the individual, and the promise of equality and opportunity for all,” Dimon testified.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Chase Bank for comment.

Michael Washburn

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Michael Washburn is a New York-based reporter who covers U.S. and China-related topics. He has a background in legal and financial journalism, and also writes about arts and culture. Additionally, he is the host of the weekly podcast Reading the Globe. His books include “The Uprooted and Other Stories,” “When We’re Grownups,” and “Stranger, Stranger.”

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