JPMorgan Chase is the nation’s largest bank, and it continues to get bigger—thanks to rent-seekers in government and its own inertia. It also continues to promote a progressive, anti-faith agenda. For that reason, conservatives and Catholics have begun to realize that we do not owe JPMorgan its market share—in fact, we should be actively avoiding the banking giant.
The financial services leviathan covers the continental United States, being well-positioned as the first and only bank with branches in all lower 48 states (4,800 branches in total). It has more deposit and credit card business than any other bank, along with more investment banking revenue than the other big players, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. When the banking system panicked this spring, $50 billion floated from smaller banks into JPMorgan. Then it got even bigger with a government-backed sweetheart deal to acquire the failed First Republic Bank.
It’s good to be the king, but why should Catholics continue to be the subjects?
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Recently, conservative government officials around the country have sounded the alarm about JPMorgan’s size and influence, given its prejudice against religious organizations. Led by vocal Catholic Jason Miyares, Attorney General of Virginia, who has gained notoriety for defending Catholics from both pro-abortion rioters and a corrupt FBI, nineteen Republican Attorneys General and fourteen Republican state treasurers have sent letters to JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, alleging that the banking giant “has persistently discriminated against certain customers due to their religious or political affiliation.”
The officials point out that this behavior contradicts JPMorgan’s own policies and statements on openness, inclusivity, and anti-discrimination. They cite the National Committee for Religious Freedom (NCRF) being de-banked last year. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the highest-profile Catholic who sits on the board of NCRF, is not known for being an especially conservative cleric, but he has been fairly vocal on issues like the protection of the unborn. That JPMorgan would de-bank even a centrist, pluralist religious organization shows how far they are willing to go.
This is not the first time JPMorgan has de-banked a Christian organization. In 2021, a credit card processor owned by JPMorgan terminated the account of the Family Council, a Christian pro-life organization, because it was deemed “High Risk.” It will not surprise those of us who know how this works to hear that the Family Council met none of the processor’s written standards for that category.
This year, due to the controversial nature of actions like these, a resolution was placed before JPMorgan shareholders to require the bank to evaluate how it quantifies risks associated with religious views. JPMorgan advocated that its shareholders vote against the resolution, going so far as to file a motion with the Securities and Exchange Commission to prevent this resolution from appearing on the ballot. The SEC denied this motion in March.
JPMorgan has clearly become a home for an anti-religious mentality. Aside from attacking faith-based institutions, they seek to impose their own form of questionable morality on a variety of social issues. To take just one example, JPMorgan was one of the companies that announced it will pay for an employee’s travel expenses to get an abortion in a different state following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. JPMorgan has clearly become a home for an anti-religious mentality. Aside from attacking faith-based institutions, they seek to impose their own form of questionable morality on a variety of social issues.Tweet This
Having spent my career in financial services, I will allow for the possibility that some of these occurrences were due to incompetence and ignorance rather than intention or malice. The back-office ineptitude of financial institutions is a fundamental truth about the industry, and reading about the NCRF’s ordeal was all too familiar to me as part of dealing with bank bureaucracy. JPMorgan’s actions were brazen, but inadequacy is sometimes a better explanation than conspiracy.
On the other hand, these actions taken together provide a clear picture of the JPMorgan leadership’s lack of a moral compass. One might expect that taking extreme positions against faith and morals would in some way hurt a company’s market position, but this would be a naive expectation for a company that is too big to fail.
In the competitive world of wealth management, the saying goes that no one gets fired for hiring JPMorgan. The accepted wisdom is that no overseer—whether executives, board members, or regulators—will question engaging the best-known name in the game. JPMorgan thus serves as a security blanket for decision makers, from corporations, to non-profits, to retirement funds at any level.
However, being the safe choice does not make JPMorgan the correct fit, especially for Catholics. I recently worked with a Catholic organization that devotes much of its time and effort to pro-life advocacy. I discovered that this organization banks with JPMorgan which, quite aside from the allegations of Miyares and his colleagues, has long had a clear record of supporting pro-choice activism. Seemingly, the Catholic organization’s leadership is merely unaware of the bank’s history and current discriminatory practices. Their business relationship was likely established years ago and no one thinks anything of it. Unfortunately, this type of detachment from financial oversight is all too common.
But such religious organizations should absolutely do their homework before they let a corporation handle their money. JPMorgan’s statements and behavior make clear where they stand. While I appreciate the Attorneys General highlighting blatant discriminatory practices, neither public statements nor any legal or regulatory measures will actually solve this crisis. The bank is simply too big to be threatened by such pushback.
The solution must begin on the individual, parish, and organization level. But first we should acknowledge there is no quick policy fix to an activist bank that controls trillions of dollars in assets. Instead, this is a question of conscience. A Catholic boycott of JPMorgan may not bring them down or force them to change course, but every Catholic who takes a stand will be glad he or she has done so.
More importantly, we should build new solutions in the world of finance and investment that align with our principles. We all know what the big banks stand for, but this country has thousands of banks. Where are the banks that stand for something more than an ever-shifting progressive advocacy? Where is the bank advertising that it wants the business of religious organizations that are facing discrimination? If such an institution is out there, it is not nearly loud enough.
This is a challenge to Catholic financial advisers and other industry professionals like myself that we must do more than protest, criticize, and boycott—we must build. I hope that in the years to come Catholics will have several more valid options for financial services. Until then, I will gladly direct religious and faith-driven organizations to the few banking and advisory options that I personally know will serve them well.
Rather than cry foul, individuals and organizations can take responsibility and use the oldest method available—vote with their pocketbook. It may be easier said than done to simply move their money elsewhere, but the growing demand for non-discriminatory alternatives in finance and all types of business is an opportunity that conservatives and Christians would be foolish to overlook.