On March 9, Samuel G. Freedman reported in the New York Times on the growing trend of Christian congregations’ closing their bank accounts at financial institutions implicated in the abuses that led to the mortgage crisis. PICO National Network (People Improving Communities through Organizing) leads the campaign, which PICO estimates has motivated dozens of congregational organizations and their individual members to withdraw some $31 million from particularly complicit institutions, such as JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, and deposit those funds in other institutions. For more on this movement, please follow the jump.
The participating congregations span numerous denominations—Catholic, Episcopalian, and Evangelical. Freedman highlights the recent actions of Rev. Ryan Bell, pastor of the Hollywood Adventist Church, who, inspired by the Lenten season, closed a several-hundred-thousand-dollar account at Bank of America and transferred the funds to a local bank. In response to a Times inquiry, Rev. Bell stated, “To right the wrongs of the world is as much a part of the Lenten experience as to repent ourselves.”