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House advances legislation protecting Tennesseans from ‘debanking’

Legislation protecting Tennesseans from discrimination by financial institutions for personal beliefs advanced in the House on Tuesday.

House Bill 2100, sponsored by State Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, and Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, would prohibit financial institutions and insurers from discriminating, denying or canceling services to Tennesseans based on political opinions, religious beliefs, social credit scores and other factors. The practice is commonly referred to as “debanking.”

“The trend of freezing bank accounts based on religious or political beliefs is deeply worrying to me,” Zachary 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.”

Debanking for political and religious reasons has increasingly become an issue in the United States. Indigenous Advance Ministries, a Christian nonprofit based in Memphis, claims it was debanked for religious beliefs when the group’s accounts were unexpectedly closed in 2023.

“In Tennessee, we will not allow big corporate banks to discriminate against citizens for their religious or political views,” said Johnson. “No person or entity should be denied banking services or lose access to their account because of their values. This troubling trend will not be tolerated in Tennessee. I am glad to work with Rep. Zachary on this legislation to protect our citizens and push back against viewpoint discrimination.”

The bill would make debanking for beliefs and other criteria an unfair or deceptive practice under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act of 1977, which is a Class B misdemeanor offense.

House Bill 2100 on Tuesday advanced out of the Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee.

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