Federal Reserve Orders Bank to Remove Christmas Messages
Officials of the Federal Reserve ordered an Oklahoma bank to remove Christmas messages
from its banking facility in the small town of Perkins.
Bank examiners from the
Federal Reserve instructed officers of the Payne County Bank to remove all religious
references from the bank because they might be "offensive" to the bank's customers.
Bank examiners from the Fed were making their periodic visit, which occurs every
four years, to ensure that the bank was complying with federal banking regulations.
The examiners objected to employees wearing buttons stating "Merry Christmas-God
with us." They also challenged a "Bible verse of the day" posted in the bank's
lobby and on the bank's website. They even expressed displeasure with Thomas Kinkade
paintings hanging in the bank's lobby.
Bank examiners concluded, in Scrooge-like fashion, that the religious references
violated "the discouragement clause" of Regulation B of federal banking regulations.
That clause states that financial institutions may not use "words, symbols, models,
or other forms of communication" which
"express, imply, or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion."
The Federal Reserve officials stated that the public celebration of Christ's birth
might be offensive to Muslims, Jews, or atheists, and cause them to feel like they
were the subject of discrimination. Bank officers were told that if they failed
to remove the religious elements the matter would be referred to the Department
of Justice for enforcement action.
Oklahoma U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe
and Congressman Frank Lucas
sent a letter to Federal
Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke demanding that the Christmas messages be restored.
"This is an all-out assault on the faith, values, and rights of the bank, its
employees, and the people of Perkins they serve," Inhofe said.
"It is absolutely ridiculous for the regulation to be interpreted this way, and
it unduly discriminates against a person's faith in Christ and their constitutionally
protected freedom to publicly express that faith. It is simply another case of
liberals in Washington overstepping their bounds and intruding in the lives of individuals."
Not only were the federal grinches trying to steal Christmas, they were acting to
deny the religious liberties of a business, its employees, and the community of
Upon receiving the letter from Senator Inhofe and Congressman Lucas, officials with
the Federal Reserve backed down. Tom Hoenig, President of the Federal Reserve Bank
in Kansas City, advised bank officials that it was determined that the regulation
does not apply to personal items displayed in the workplace.
"We have been advised by the senior officers of the Kansas City Federal Reserve
Bank--after conferring with the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve Bank in
Washington, D.C.--that this matter has been resolved and we can, in fact, display
religious images and phrases on our website and in our facility," reports
of the employee-owned Payne County Bank. "We appreciate the generous outpouring
of support and prayers of Americans from all over the country."
The heavy-handed action by the Fed has been roundly criticized by bloggers and columnists
across the nation. Michael Tennant wrote for The New American: "One might think
that the Federal Reserve is busy enough with bailing out foreign banks, monetizing
federal debt, and inflating the dollar into oblivion, but apparently that is not
the case. The Fed somehow found time to micromanage the decor of an Oklahoma bank
in an effort to prevent the bank's customers from being confronted with evidence
that the upcoming holiday has anything at all to do with with a birth in Bethlehem
over 2000 years ago."
The actions by the Federal Reserve stand in stark contrast to the views of the average
American. A recent Rasmussen survey reveals that 74 percent of Americans believe
that religious symbols like Christmas Nativity scenes should be allowed on public
property. The survey also found that 80 percent of Americans believe that religious
holidays should be celebrated in the public schools.
Yet the champions of secular religion continue their crusade against Christmas and
any and all vestiges of our Christian culture. Officials at Southern Illinois University
in Carbondale recently silenced Christmas music being played from the university's
For as long as anyone can remember, Christmas carols have been heard
over the campus from the university's Pulliam clock tower. Yet that didn't sit
well with the politically correct crowd on campus.
"We took the music off the clock tower as a result of some complaints we received
that religious music was offensive to non-Christians," says Chancellor Rita Cheng.
"We want to be sensitive that there are people from all over the world on the Carbondale
campus from many different religions, and we want to be more inclusive." When the
Carbondale community reacted quite negatively to the Chancellor's decision, she
restored Christmas tunes to the clock tower, along with selections from Jewish and
All these episodes reinforce the importance of passing religious liberty legislation
in our state and nation that protects the freedom of religious expression of everyday
Americans. Our state and federal constitutions need to be amended to counter the
erroneous interpretations of the First Amendment mandating so-called "separation
of church and state."
This bogus constitutional theory has resulted in the expulsion
of God and religious values from the public arena, and now it is even being extended
to the private sector.
The Missouri Family Policy Council will be prioritizing the passage of a religious
liberty constitutional amendment during the coming session of the Missouri General