Oklahoma Lawmakers Step Into Fight Over Religion In Bank - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Oklahoma Lawmakers Step Into Fight Over Religion In Payne County Bank

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Payne County Bank was allowed to restore the religious items Federal Reserve examiners initially forced it to remove. Payne County Bank was allowed to restore the religious items Federal Reserve examiners initially forced it to remove.
A message on Payne County Bank's website wishes visitors a Merry Christmas. A message on Payne County Bank's website wishes visitors a Merry Christmas.

Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9

PERKINS, Oklahoma -- Two Oklahoma lawmakers have sent a scathing letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke after a bank in Perkins was asked to remove religious objects from the business.

Federal Reserve examiners came to Payne County Bank one week ago to conduct a routine check to see if the bank was complying with a long list of regulations. The examiners found religious items and information posted throughout the bank, and said it could lead people of other religions to view the bank as discriminatory.

Those examiners told the bank the Bible verse of the day inside and on the website had to be taken down to comply with one of the regulations that discourages any sort of discrimination. The bank also was advised to take down crosses the tellers' counters, and have bank employees stop wearing buttons that say "Merry Christmas, God is with us."

Many bank customers were not happy with the decision and voiced their discontent. Bank employees agreed and asked to bring back the religious items.

Bank President Lynn Kinder said they contacted the Federal Reserve in Kansas City late Thursday and Friday morning they got the call that the bank could restore everything.

"The Federal Reserve is going to review the matter further," said Kinder.

Kinder said the situation generated a lot of attention nationwide and he would just like to see it die down to avoid any disruption to normal bank business.

But Senator Jim Inhofe and Representative Frank Lucas are demanding some answers. In a letter to Fed Chairman Bernanke, the lawmakers called the Reserve's action an assault on faith, values and rights of banks and their employees. They've asked Bernanke to review the situation.

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