WASHINGTON – An Oklahoma bank on Friday restored religious images, including a Bible verse on its website, and announced a Federal Reserve Bank ruling that barred their display had been resolved.
That development came after two members of the state’s congressional delegation expressed alarm over the demand that the images be purged.
"That matter has been fully resolved,” said Lynn Kinder, president of Payne County Bank of Perkins.
"Everything was restored back, exactly as it was formerly.”
Kinder credited the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City for taking quick action on the controversy.
In a separate statement posted on the bank’s website, along with a Bible verse, the bank expressed appreciation for the "generous outpouring of support and prayers of Americans from all over the country” resulting from the recent ruling barring the bank from displaying the religious images.
Earlier Friday, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas released a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stating the demand that the images be removed appeared to be without precedent and unconstitutional.
"Mr. Chairman, in our years of public service we have seldom encountered a more alarming case of heavy-handed interpretation and enforcement of federal regulations to the exclusion of any other consideration or law, including the Supreme Law of the Land,” the two Oklahoma Republicans stated.
Inhofe and Lucas’ letter stated the distressing situation
followed a consumer compliance examination at the Perkins bank.
"During the course of the examination, the examiner demanded that the bank remove a link on its website to Bible verses,” they wrote.
In addition, they stated, that interpretation of a Federal Reserve regulation was applied to all religious items within customers’ view, including items in the bank lobby and even religious-themed personal jewelry.
"The bank was told that failure to comply would result in referral of the matter to the Department of Justice for further enforcement actions,” Inhofe and Lucas wrote.
They also sent a copy of their letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
In an interview, Inhofe said his office received a request for help from the Perkins bank.
In addition to the Bible verse on the bank’s website, Kinder said other items, some of which had been displayed year-round, included verses on a television set that also displayed advertising and services, religious-related items at teller counters and a Christmas button.
Some of the items have been on display for some time, he said, adding the Bible verse on the website was newer.
"That probably drew attention,” Kinder said.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City posted a statement on its website from President Tom Hoenig stating it had become aware of "substantial confusion and misinformation” about the situation.
Hoenig stated his bank and the Oklahoma bank were working to clarify the issue.
He said the regulation cited, which prohibits discriminatory creditor practices, does not apply to jewelry and other personal items as interpreted by the Board of Governors.
Inhofe, who recently announced he would no longer participate in Tulsa’s annual "holiday parade” until "Christmas” was put back in its title, said he did not know whether the action at the Perkins bank was in anyway linked to the trend to take Christmas out of parades.
Still, he said the two actions seemed closely related.
"These people are good people,” Inhofe said of the Perkins bank employees, adding that they were expressing their Christmas spirit
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