Congressional Committee Alleges Federal Government Urged Banks to Flag Purchases of Religious Books, Sporting Goods

A congressional committee is alleging the federal government pressured banks to flag purchases of religious texts, sporting goods, and political material.

On Wednesday Congressman Jim Jordan (R — Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, sent a letter to Noah Bishoff, the former director of an office in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Evidence presented in the letter suggests the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network provided banks and other financial institutions with guiding “typologies” — patterns that could be used to identify suspicious people or activities.

According to the letter, the federal government gave banks search terms that could help flag certain transactions. These search terms and patterns included words like “TRUMP” and “MAGA”, as well as behaviors like booking travel for unclear purposes or buying “books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views.”

All of this suggests that the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network encouraged banks to search their customer transactions for these signs as a way of policing political and religious activity.

The letter also expresses concern that banks were encouraged to use Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) to look for terms like, “Bass Pro Shops,” “Cabela’s,” and “Dick’s Sporting Goods” when carrying out “Active Shooter Detection.” Despite these purchases being legal, it seems the federal government treated them as indicators of a potential threat.

Although this congressional committee letter does not get into banking practices, other outlets have reported in the past how government policies allegedly encourage banks to designate conservative organizations as posing a “high risk” or “reputational risk” — giving the banks an excuse to close their accounts.

In 2021 Family Council’s credit card processor terminated its account after designating our organization as “high risk.”

At 10:29 AM on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, our office received a terse email from our credit card processor — a company owned by JPMorgan Chase — saying, “Unfortunately, we can no longer support your business. We wish you all the luck in the future, and hope that you find a processor that better fits your payment processing needs.”

Within sixty seconds, our account was terminated and and Family Council could no longer accept donations online. All we can do is speculate that our conservative principles and our public policy work might have had something to do with the decision to close our account.

Unfortunately, other organizations have had similar experiences as well.

You Can Read Congressman Jim Jordan’s Letter Here.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.

Atheist Displays Placed Alongside Nativity at Arkansas Capitol

This week the Freedom From Religion Foundation announced atheists in Arkansas placed a “Winter Solstice” display on the Arkansas Capitol Lawn proclaiming “Joy To The World — The Bill of Rights is Born” and advocating, “Keep religion and government separate!”

The atheist display appears alongside the state’s longstanding Nativity display carved by Arkansas artisans and another atheist display by the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.

In 2009 a federal judge in Little Rock ruled Arkansas’ Secretary of State was obligated to allow a local group of atheists to put up a display marking the winter solstice on the Capitol grounds.

The Secretary of State and the Arkansas Legislature likely could prevent these types of displays from appearing on the capitol grounds each December by redesignating its lawn as a limited public forum intended to celebrate state and federal holidays like Christmas.

The irony is that America’s Bill of Rights — which the Freedom From Religion Foundation display celebrates — is the product of a Judeo-Christian worldview.

For example, historians have long recognized the Ten Commandments as one of the earliest examples of the rule of law in human history, and they profoundly shaped our nation’s legal system and ideas about justice.

That’s why there is a carving of Moses holding the Ten Commandments at the apex of the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

The Christian understandings of personal liberty, self-government, and rule of law were woven into the founding of our country. Without the birth of Christ, the Bill of Rights arguably never would have been born either.

As Founding Father John Adams put it in 1798, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Or as President Ronald Reagan said at the 1984 Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast in Dallas, Texas:

Without God, there is no virtue, because there’s no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we’re mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure. If we ever forget that we’re one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.

The Nativity Scene above adorns Arkansas’ Capitol Lawn each year.

Atheist Group Opposes Religiously Themed Songs at Halftime Show in Lake Hamilton School District

Above: The Lake Hamilton High School Power Band won the 6A State Marching Championship at War Memorial Stadium on November 1. The band’s performance of “Revival” reportedly earned both high music and high visual scores. Photo Credit: Facebook Post.

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation recently sent a letter to the Lake Hamilton School District in Arkansas urging the district to end “religious themes and messaging” in a school halftime show.

The halftime marching show in question reportedly was titled “Revival” and used the a cross, flags, and signs saying “sinners beware” and “repent now.”

The Lake Hamilton School District provided a statement to KARK News, explaining:

Their [the marching band’s] captivating show, “Revival,” drew acclaim from judges and fans alike, drawing inspiration from the great depression era highlighted in the motion picture “O Brother Where Art Thou” and other prolific concert band works. Undoubtedly, the Lake Hamilton High School Power Band’s dedication and talent were shown through each performance.

This isn’t the first time the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been active in Arkansas.

In 2022 the atheist group issued a statement celebrating the defeat of religious freedom amendment Issue 3, which narrowly failed at the ballot box in Arkansas.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has opposed public prayer at meetings and gatherings in Arkansas, and has filed a lawsuit to have a monument of the Ten Commandments removed from the Arkansas Capitol grounds.

In 2017 the group demanded that Governor Hutchinson stop sharing Bible verses on his Facebook page.

In 2016 the foundation went after Washington County election officials for using churches as polling places.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has even complained about the fact that that Arkansas’ public school students can study the Bible academically — even though it is one of the oldest texts in existence and has had a profound influence on human history.

As we have said time and again, it is worth noting that across the board, groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation tend to threaten lawsuits. If people stand their ground, these organizations rarely follow through by filing a lawsuit.

Religious freedom is a fundamental right in America, and groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation infringe that liberty when they work to purge the free exercise of religion from public life.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.