SunTrust Banks on Open Borders

SunTrust Banks on Open Borders

July 29, 2019

Banks aren't usually the ones making the withdrawals -- but politics seems to have changed that. Earlier this month, SunTrust, one of the largest chains in the southeast, announced it was yanking the financial rug out from at least two companies that manage the detention centers along the border. As far as SunTrust is concerned, anyone who's partnering with the federal government to hold migrants is part of the president's big bad immigration policy. How is that fair? Last week on the Hill, bank CEO William Rogers had a tough time explaining.

According to SunTrust, the decision to blackball immigration centers was part of a "deliberate process." The announcement came, the bank's spokespeople insisted, "after extensive consideration of the views of our stakeholders on this deeply complex issue." Amanda Gilchrist, who works for CoreCivic -- one of the groups just dropped by SunTrust -- doesn't believe it. "This decision is about caving to political pressure. These banks have kowtowed to a small group of activists rather than engaging in a constructive dialogue." Not to mention, she pointed out, if this was supposed to be a protest of family separation, it's a pointless one. For starters, the Trump administration has largely solved the problem. And secondly, neither her company -- nor the other one affected, Geo Group -- runs any centers for unaccompanied minors.

This sends "a terrible message to others in the private sector," CoreCivic argued, "who are working to help our government solve serious problems in ways it could not do alone. [We] have a 35-year track record of working with both Democrat and Republican administrations to help solve the very types of crises we are now seeing on our southern border." But then, SunTrust -- like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, who are also singling out detention center companies for discrimination -- isn't interested in solving the crisis. Obviously, these CEOs, who had no problem working with Barack Obama on the border, just want to make a political point.

During Wednesday's Financial Services hearing in the House, Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) steered the conversation with Rodgers away from SunTrust's potential merger with BB&T to the company's obvious intolerance for legal immigration. "If we have private detention centers that are caring for children, or detaining individuals who [might not be] following American law -- you say, 'I'm not going to bank [with] them.' Is that fair?" Duffy pressed. When Rogers tried to defend SunTrust, saying it "considers a variety of factors..." Duffy interrupted him and asked again, "Is it fair?" Without waiting for an answer, he pushed Rodgers on whether he -- like a lot of his liberal allies -- think "detention centers are concentration camps" or if "[immigration agents] are Nazis?"

Rodgers said he couldn't remember anyone "using those descriptions." Duffy switched gears. Is this how the bank is supporting "open borders," he asked -- by refusing to loan to private prison operators? SunTrust, Rodgers claimed, "is not taking a social position..." But he couldn't finish because Duffy fired back, "You are taking a social position when you say you won't bank [with] detention facilities."

Of course, taking social positions is nothing new for SunTrust, which also ousted David and Jason Benham from their accounts after the twins were fired from HGTV for their biblical views. After pulling all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers' bank-owned business, SunTrust was so overwhelmed by customer complaints that it reinstated the brothers barely a day later. Whether or not the public outcry will be enough for Rodgers and company to change course this time, no one knows.

In the meantime, it just goes to show how much Big Business has changed. After decades of relying on Republicans' sound economic policies, the tide has turned. Today's CEOs are more concerned with aligning with the radical Left than attracting consumers. Lately, that means attacking the very values that pave the way for their corporate success. If chains like SunTrust want to throw those principles overboard and make themselves willing hostages of liberal activists, that's their choice. But don't come crying to conservative policy makers when your profits are on the line and the only friends you have left are Big Government liberals who know nothing but suffocating regulations and taxes.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Falsely Accused and Suffering in Silence

July 29, 2019

Asia Bibi may be the world's most recognizable blasphemy law victim, but just because she's free doesn't mean the problem is solved. Far from it, Shaan Taseer warned at this month's ministerial on international religious freedom. "... [T]here are 200 Asia Bibis in jail accused of blasphemy law" just in Pakistan, he said. And he's willing to devote his life -- just as his father did -- to seeing it end.

For Shaan, the calling is personal. His dad, the late governor of Punjab, Pakistan, gave his life to end the injustice. "Not on my watch," he vowed. When Asia, a Christian, was accused of smearing Mohammad's name, Salmaan Taseer stood by her -- knowing that the claims, which she denied, were probably false. Bibi was sentenced to death anyway, a charge the court recently overturned. And while Asia escaped death, Salmaan, as a public ally, did not.

"He threw his weight behind Asia Bibi," Shaan remembers. "He met with her in prison... He called for a presidential pardon given the weaknesses in the case. He called for reform of the blasphemy law." And he paid for it with his life. In 2011, Shaan's father was shot 27 times by his bodyguard after a Muslim fatwa demanded his assassination.

Years later, Shaan is carrying on his dad's legacy. "If we claim to be working towards a world free of religious persecution, then this is the frontline of that work," he told world leaders at the State Department. "These are the foot soldiers fighting for the world that we believe in, for a new and progressive society free of religious persecution."

Two of those foot soldiers, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) may not agree on a lot of policy, but they agree on this: blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws have no place in civil society. Together, in House Resolution 512, they condemn the practice and call for officials to stop imposing "religious dogma on individuals or minorities through the power of government or violence sanctioned by the government."

"[A]s of May 2018, USCIRF [The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom] was aware of approximately 40 individuals on death row for blasphemy in Pakistan or serving life sentences," the text, which was introduced last week in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, points out. (To understand just how dangerous these policies are, take time to read through FRC's new publication: Apostasy, Blasphemy, and Anti-Conversion Laws.)

There are persecuted men and women in prison all over the world, charged with crimes they didn't commit. Young people, like 16-year-old Nabeel Masih, who, the Christian Post explains, "was jailed in 2016 after being accused of posting a blasphemous picture on Facebook. However, Masih has maintained that he did not author the post in question."

"The troops of history will march on," Shaan said, "and I have no doubt that the blasphemy laws of Pakistan, like the Jim Crow laws, the Apartheid laws of South Africa, like the Nuremberg laws of Nazi Germany, will take their rightful place in the dustbin of human history. When that day comes -- and I hope it will be in my lifetime -- we may want to ask us what we did to help those who suffered under this law."

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

2020: The (Mis)Information Age

July 29, 2019

One Google executive was already caught on camera admitting her job was preventing another "Trump situation." So it's no wonder Americans' eyebrows shot up at the latest comments from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Unlike Jen Gennai's comments, Dorsey's were public. But if they imply what conservatives think they do, they're just as disturbing.

With the censorship debate boiling over everywhere -- including Congress -- Twitter just poured more fuel on the fire by warning users that blocking "misinformation" during next year's campaign is the company's biggest goal. "Our No. 1 priority within elections and conversations on the elections," Dorsey said, "is making sure we're protecting the integrity of the conversation." That requires "identifying forms of manipulation used to amplify misleading information," he said, "as well as increasing transparency around ad purchases and targeting."

Normally, that sort of statement wouldn't be cause for concern. After all, no one wants a culture of dishonesty deciding America's next president. But it's how Twitter defines "misinformation" that has conservatives worried. In the past several months, social media platforms have used the word to describe everything from pro-life science to Bible verses. Lately, it's been the catch-all term -- not for half-truths and distortions -- but anything the Left disagrees with.

Dorsey insists that this has a lot more to do with outside countries influencing the election than conservatives. But that's cold comfort to a movement that's seen one platform after another systematically silence their voice. Even now, Twitter is adding a warning flag that will cover up any posts from elected officials that they consider "offensive." Jokingly called the "Trump rule," when a politician violates Twitter's standards, the account will be slapped with a label that says the content might be abusive. What's considered "abusive," of course, is up to Twitter.

In public, Dorsey says all the right things. "Our purpose is to serve the public conversation," he insisted, "and we have seen a number of attacks on it. We've seen abuse, we've seen harassment, we've seen manipulation, automatic and human coordination, misinformation ... What worries me most is our ability to address it in a systemic way that is scalable."

At the end of the day, what most Americans want is neutrality -- or at least consistency. If companies like Twitter hold themselves out as a virtual public square, then they can't block messages just because they hold a different view. There's a growing concern that Big Tech is picking and choosing who can speak on their platforms. That's not free speech. And if we aren't careful, it won't be a free election either.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

FRC in the Spotlight...

July 29, 2019

Does the Bible have anything to say about Congress's new debt deal? You might be surprised. Check out my new Fox News column for a Christian perspective on the government's borrowing.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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