"Debanking" of Christian pro-life organisations

Country: Sweden

Date of incident: June 20, 2024

As reported on June 12 by CNE, two Christian pro-life organisations in Sweden and the Netherlands, have experienced "debanking". Mats Selander, who started the pro-life organisation Center for Bioethical Reform in Sweden (CBR-S) was forced to end his 30 year customer relationship with Scandinavian Bank Nordea. The bank subsequently even closed down his private account. He was not given any explanation besides "not enough customer knowledge", despite having disclosed all his transactions. Salender believes it is due to his pro-life views. With increasing regulations, many banks have been shutting down customers for their beliefs.

For Mats Selander, the problem started in 2022 when, after Nordea had asked him to disclose information about transactions from his business account, which he did, he was suddenly asked to shut it down due to “lack of customer knowledge”. Mr. Selander was startled as he had already disclosed all transactions and motives behind them. “And it was something in what they heard me saying that frankly must have pissed them off. Or do they seriously believe that we’re doing money laundering?” he told CNE. 

The bank transferred all of CBR-Sweden’s money to Mr. Selander's private account, forcing him to temporarily use it for business transactions after emptying it of his private savings. When the organisation applied for business accounts at other banks, they refused arguing that Selander conducted CBR-Sweden’s business affairs on his private account.

A year and a half after the closure of CBR-Sweden’s business account, Nordea told Selander that they would close his private account, with the same justification of having “not enough customer knowledge.” “When the banks shut down private bank accounts, it becomes very scary. This is such a threat to democracy. This is economic persecution. We need to fight that!” he said in an CNE interview.

In the Netherlands, Kees van Helden, the national coordinator of the Kies Leven Association (Choose Life) from the Netherlands, was refused to open a business bank account for his organisation at several banks in the country, including Rabobank, ING, and Bunq. Only the latter gave a specific reason and told him that his “goal doesn’t fit.” Responding to an inquiry by CNE, Bunq explained: “According to our terms and conditions, certain activities fall outside our risk appetite thus preventing us from continuing to provide our services to some personal or business users. This includes ideological or political activism of any kind.”

Lauren Smith, a writer at Spiked, commented on this trend: “Banks and building societies are increasingly engaged in a culture war against their own customers” and are “targeting those who hold what they deem to be the wrong views.”

Salender, however, believes that banks are put under a lot of pressure to counteract terrorism, crime, and money laundering. “The bar is set unrealistically high. How can banks guarantee that their customers are not criminals? In the gap between reality and unattainable demands, bank officials will consciously or unconsciously fill the gap with their own prejudice and politically correct feelings. That is what I believe has happened here. And that is how this ‘liberal totalitarianism’ could happen,” he told CNE.

Banks limiting access for conservative organisations and individuals, is happening not only in Sweden and the Netherlands, but also in other European countries such as the UK, Germany, and Austria. Christians engaged in development aid, pro-life work or known of holding conservative Christian beliefs are particularly vulnerable to being "debanked".

Other Christian organisations and individuals, which chose to remain anonymous, have reported similar incidents to OIDAC Europe. 


Source: CNE

Image: Wiki Commons