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The button initially banned by Federal Reserve inspectors
Federal Reserve inspectors came to the small town of Perkins, Okla., population 2,272, and told local bank tellers that that they may not wear overtly Christian Christmas buttons or display crosses or other “religious symbols.”
According to report from KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City, Federal Reserve examiners come every four years to ensure banks are complying with federal regulations. But this year, the examiners deemed the Payne County Bank to be in violation of Regulation B, which forbids “words, symbols, models and other forms of communication” that “imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion.”
The concern, according to the KOCO-TV report, was that Muslims or atheists, for example, might be offended by the Christian messages and believe the bank to discriminate against them.
The inspection team from Kansas City, therefore, determined the bank’s displayed Bible verses, crosses on a teller’s counter and buttons that say “Merry Christmas, God With Us,” – as well as the Bible verse of the day on the bank’s Internet site – must be removed.
Perkins residents, however, told the station they disagreed with the decision.
“This whole thing is just ridiculous,” said bank customer Jim Nyles. “We all have regulatory bodies that govern us. But this is too much.”
“I think that’s absurd,” another bank customer, Chelsi Holser, told the station. “I don’t agree with it at all. They are taking Christ out of Christmas and life.”
The American Family Association, which produces the buttons reading “Merry Christmas, God With Us,” went further, calling the act “[an] outrageous display of
“This is both absurd and tyrannical,” said Tim Wildmon, the president of AFA, in a statement. “Christmas is an official national holiday. Telling a privately owned bank it cannot show any images of Christ in connection with this holiday is no different than telling the bank it can’t show images of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in connection with President’s Day.
“It is positively un-American for these examiners to muscle and
threaten American citizens into forfeiting their God-given and inalienable rights to free expression,” he continued.
The AFA also contends that by telling local banks their tellers can’t wear Christmas buttons or display crosses that the Federal Reserve is violating its own policy against “discriminatory” preferences and exclusion.
Said Wildmon, “How much more discriminatory can you get than telling private employees of a privately owned bank what they can wear in their own building? The people who are guilty of a ‘policy of exclusion’ here are the petty little tyrants from the Federal Reserve.”
The Federal Reserve public affairs office did not respond to requests for comment on the story, but a bank official told WND that with the help of Oklahoma’s U.S. legislators and the Oklahoma Banker’s Association, the Fed has backtracked on its initial demands for the time being.
“We have been in conversation, and they have restored those things, allowed us to put those back out,” Bank President Lynn Kinder told WND, referring to the crosses, buttons and Bible verses. “They’re in process of making a final determination on resolving the issue.
“We’re real happy about it, because we all we wanted was the right to display our items,” Kinder said. “All we do here – our success and blessings from this bank – are due to God, and we were just acknowledging that. He’s the reason we’ve been successful. We’ve tried to run the bank by His principles.
“We’re pleased that the issue is getting resolved,” he concluded.