The Federal Reserve has reversed its decision that originally forced a small Oklahoma bank to remove from its premises and website Bible verses, crosses, and Christmas buttons. The reversal occurred after national outcry and a letter from two Oklahoma lawmakers who charged that the decision may be unconstitutional.
Sen Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) sent a joint letter to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday afternoon saying they have “seldom encountered a more alarming case of heavy-handed interpretation and enforcement of Federal regulations," and charging the decision may be in violation of “fundamental Constitutional protections.”
The letter ended by demanding a response. That response came Friday afternoon, when the Federal Reserve's second in command contacted Payne County Bank president Lynn Kindler in Perkins, OK and told him he could once again display his Christian artifacts and Bible verses.
"The Federal Reserve restored everything on a permanent basis," he told KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City. "It's over. We can put everything back up the way it was and keep it there."
Originally the Fed told the bank its Christian symbols violated the discouragement clause of Regulation B of the bank regulations. The clause prohibits "... the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication... [that] express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion." Fed examiners interpreted that to mean the bank's overtly Christian messages could offend people of other faiths.
"This is an all out assault on the faith, values, and rights of the bank, its employees and the people of Perkins they serve," Sen. Inhofe said in response. "It is absolutely ridiculous for the regulation to be interpreted this way, and it unduly discriminates against a persons faith in Christ and their Constitutionally protected freedom to publicaly express that faith."
Rep. Lucas agreed: "The recent actions taken by the Federal Reserve at Payne County Bank are of great concern to me. I do not agree with its interpretation of Regulation B in this circumstance and believe that it infringes upon fundamental Constitutional rights afforded to all Americans."
And whether or not the Fed agreed too, it acquiesced. That pleases Perkins citizens.
"I think that's good," local resident Bill Erwin told KOCO. "I don't think they should have had to take it down," added Carrie Kinsey.