Bill To Protect Customers From De-Banking For Religious, Political Reasons Advances In Tennessee
Sunset Behind the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, Tennessee from a Low Angle View.
Credit: Jeremy Poland via Getty Images.

A proposed Tennessee bill that would prevent banks from discriminating against people based on their political or religious views advanced in the state House on Tuesday amid national concerns that financial institutions are targeting conservatives. 

The Republican-backed bill advanced in the House’s Subcommittee on Banking and Consumer Affairs by a 5-1 vote along partisan lines. 

“The trend of freezing bank accounts based on religious or political beliefs is deeply worrying to me,” Rep. Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville), the bill’s sponsor, said. “We will put a stop to this dangerous practice in Tennessee because having to self-police speech for fear of being denied financial services is not representative of our state’s values. Tennessee Republicans will continue protecting the right of citizens to freely express their convictions.”

The proposal, HB2100, would prohibit financial institutions from denying or canceling services to people based on a person’s speech, opinions, and affiliations, as well as a person’s religious beliefs, exercises, and affiliations. It would create an amendment to Tennessee’s consumer protection laws and would not impact quantitative factors banks already take into account. A previous version of the proposal included insurance companies, but the bill was amended to remove those provisions. 

Zachary said before the subcommittee that the state attorney general’s office was currently dealing with cases of customers who have had their banking restricted in the state. 

“This legislation is extremely important to the well-being of Tennesseans and this puts this under the Consumer Protection Act and ensures that our Tennesseans are not discriminated against,” he said. “And if the banks aren’t doing this, which we’ve heard over and over again, ‘we’re not doing this,’ then they’re not going to have any problem with the bill.”

On Tuesday, Chris Lee of the National Shooting Sports Foundation and FirstBank CEO Chris Holmes gave additional testimony. 

Lee testified in support of the bill, pointing to moves by some financial institutions to target the firearm industry. Lee pointed to gun policies rolled out by Citigroup in 2018 that refused to work with partners who sold guns to people under the age of 21 or sold high-capacity magazines and bump stocks. Citigroup attempted to get other financial institutions to join but failed to rally any additional support. 


Holmes, who opposes the bill, said it would lead to burdensome regulations and could mean that banks would be required to work with businesses involved in pornography or marijuana. Zachary said that banks could still follow policies about not doing business with such entities and that his bill only applies to banks with $100 billion in assets or more. 

The bill, supported by groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the National Committee for Religious Freedom, now moves on to the House Commerce Committee.

The proposal comes as congressional lawmakers look into whether federal law enforcement pressured financial institutions to help them snoop on the financial transactions of supporters of former President Donald Trump and people who had visited outdoor stores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops.

RELATED: Religious Liberty Advocates Warn Tennessee Lawmakers About Dangers Of Politically Motivated ‘De-Banking’

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