Federal Examiners Say Religious Decoration Inappropriate
PERKINS, Okla. — A small-town bank in Oklahoma said the Federal Reserve won’t let it keep religious signs and symbols on display.
Federal Reserve examiners come every four years to make sure banks are complying with a long list of regulations. The examiners came to Perkins last week. And the team from Kansas City deemed a Bible verse of the day, crosses on the teller’s counter and buttons that say “Merry Christmas, God With Us.” were inappropriate. The Bible verse of the day on the bank’s Internet site also had to be taken down.
“I don’t think there should be a problem with them displaying whatever religious symbols they want to display,” said Amy Weierman, a Perkins resident.
Specifically, the feds believed, the symbols violated the discouragement clause of Regulation B of the bank regulations. According to the clause, “…the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication … express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion.”
The feds interpret that to mean, for example, a Jew or Muslim or atheist may be offended and believe they may be discriminated against at this bank. It is an appearance of discrimination.
But customers Eyewitness News 5 talked to said they aren’t buying it.
“This is just ridiculous,” said bank customer Jim Nyles. “This whole thing is just ridiculous. We all have regulatory bodies that govern us. But this is too much.”
“I think that’s absurd,” said Chelsi Holser, a bank customer. “I don’t agree with it at all. They are taking Christ out of Christmas and life.”
The bank is quietly fighting for a clearer interpretation of the clause. Officials have contacted their two U.S. legislators, Rep. Frank Lucas and Sen. Jim Inhofe, and the Oklahoma Bankers Association to help.