Federal Reserve Bank Examiners Demand Removal of Crosses and Merry Christmas Buttons at Oklahoma Bank

There is an interesting case out of Perkins, Oklahoma where Federal Reserve officials reportedly ordered a small bank (The Payne County Bank) to remove religious Christmas displays. I fail to see the authority of Federal Reserve officials to limit the free speech to a bank, particularly religious-based speech. If the bank wants to marginalize non-Christian customers through sectarian displays, I think it has a constitutionally protected right to do so. What it cannot do is actually discriminate in the establishment or handling of accounts.

Federal Reserve examiners reported came for one of their visits (every four years) and saw a posted daily Bible verse, hanging crosses, and buttons saying “Merry Christmas, God With Us.” There was also a Bible verse on the Internet. All were ordered removed by the federal examiners.

The action is based on the Federal Reserve’s “Non-Discouragement” rule contained in Title 12 (Section 202.4). The same section as an anti-discrimination policy:

§ 202.4 General rules.

(a) Discrimination. A creditor shall not discriminate against an applicant on a prohibited basis regarding any aspect of a credit transaction.

(b) Discouragement. A creditor shall not make any oral or written statement, in advertising or otherwise, to applicants or prospective applicants that would discourage on a prohibited basis a reasonable person from making or pursuing an application.

Regulation B further states:

Regulation B

Sec. 202.1 Authority, scope and purpose.

(b) Purpose. The purpose of this regulation is to promote the availability of credit to all creditworthy applicants without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, or age (provided the applicant has the capacity to contract); to the fact that all or part of the applicant’s income derives from a public assistance program; or to the fact that the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The regulation prohibits creditor practices that discriminate on the basis of any of these factors. The regulation also requires creditors to notify applicants of action taken on their applications; to report credit history in the names of both spouses on an account; to retain records of credit applications; to collect information about the applicant’s race and other personal characteristics in applications for certain dwelling-related loans; and to provide applicants with copies of appraisal reports used in connection with credit transactions.

The discouragement provision is hopelessly vague and ambiguous. Most anything could discourage some people. I would be discouraged to see a bank displaying White Sox testimonials rather than loyalty to the Cubs. Moreover, there is no apparent requirement of intent. I have not read any report that the bank preferred only Christian customers, alone actively sought to exclude non-Christians. Discriminating on the basis of religion is a “prohibited basis,” but displaying religious text or symbols is not prohibited for a private company. Section (a) is perfectly understandable and should suffice in this regard. Any active effort to deny service to non-Christian would be a form of prohibited discrimination.

I don’t like sectarian messages in banks. (I prefer a demonstration of economic knowledge rather than blind faith from my bankers). However, I find it deeply troubling to see federal examiners branching out into speech regulation. I would think that they have enough to do with banks failing across the country in this economy.

In an update, the Feds have backed down on the postings after a call from the president of Payne County Bank, Lynn Kinder. I remain, however, a bit concerned about the claimed authority here. Clearly, this regulation has not been challenged and I wonder how many of banks have simply complied with such speech limitations. There remains a troubling regulation on the books and regulators who believe that they have the right to demand the removal of such displays.

On its website, today’s biblical quotation is

Luke 2:1, 4-5

“[The Birth of Jesus] In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.”

A survey of the entire Federal Reserve actions under the non-discouragement policy might also merit a decree or two.

Jonathan Turley

100 thoughts on “Federal Reserve Bank Examiners Demand Removal of Crosses and Merry Christmas Buttons at Oklahoma Bank”

  1. Kelly is also wrong in the same way you are wrong. You’ve failed to ask “wherein the control lies and for what purpose”. Centralized control is required for certain elements of society. The Romans would not have been able to build aqueducts without centralized control nor run their military or any of the other positive functions they provided (like education) without it. In the Roman Republic, that control resided with the Senate. In Imperial Rome, it rested with the Emperor. In America, the power is held by the Federal Government’s co-equal branches and – as a representative democracy – is held is trust for “We the People”. Or it is supposed to be, but I’ll get to that.

    In democratic socialism (as paired with social democracy – the very form I advocate and you’ve been attacking), the control lies with the government and is held as a public trust.

    In fascism, the control lies with industry coordination government and is held for private profit of an oligarchy.

    In the instance of modern America the fundamental problem is that industry – through corruption of in the campaign finance system and lobbyists – have usurped the will of We the People (the demos in the Greek sense of the word) in exercising control over our government. It is fascism in fact once control is handed to a merchant class oligarchy and taken out of the hands of the demos (the common people).

    Keep cherry picking nonsense to justify your greed.

    In your zeal to paint anyone against corporate excess as a fascist (a term you obviously consider pejorative), you’ve done quite the opposite.

    All you’ve done with that bit of sophistry directed at painting democratic socialism as fascism (which it isn’t because they have innately different loci of control) is tacitly admit that you’re an anti-democratic fascist.

    You’re just “me, Me, ME” 24/7/365, aren’t you, sport? (rhetorical)

  2. “Mussolini’s own idea, since he started it, was that Fascism was Socialism where Internationalism was replaced with Nationalism.”

    Dr. Kelly (a political philosopher)


    “8. Conception of a corporative state

    (15) We have created the united state of Italy remember that since the Empire Italy had not been a united state. Here I wish to reaffirm solemnly our doctrine of the State. Here I wish to reaffirm with no weaker energy, the formula I expounded at the scala in Milan everything in the state, nothing against the State, nothing outside the state. (speech before the Chamber of Deputies, May 26, 1927 , Discorsi del 1927, Milano, Alpes, 1928, p. t57).

    (16) We are, in other words, a state which controls all forces acting in nature. We control political forces, we control moral forces we control economic forces, therefore we are a full-blown Corporative state. We stand for a new principle in the world, we stand for sheer, categorical, definitive antithesis to the world of democracy, plutocracy, free-masonry, to the world which still abides by the fundamental principles laid down in 1789. (Speech before the new Na­tional Directory of the Party, April 7, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 120).

    The Ministry of Corporations is not a bureaucratic organ, nor does it wish to exercise the functions of syndical organizations which are necessarily independent, since they aim at organizing, selecting and improving the members of syndicates. The Ministry of Corporations is an institution in virtue of which, in the centre and outside, integral corporation becomes an accomplished fact, where balance is achieved between interests and forces of the economic world. Such a glance is only possible within the sphere of the state, because the state alone transcends the contrasting interests of groups and individuals, in view of co-coordinating them to achieve higher aims. The achievement of these aims is speeded up by the fact that all economic organizations, acknowledged, safeguarded and supported by the Corpo­rative State, exist within the orbit of Fascism; in other terms they accept the conception of Fascism in theory and in practice. (speech at the opening of the Ministry of Corporations, July 31, 1926, in Di­scorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 250).

    We have constituted a Corporative and Fascist state, the state of national society, a State which concentrates, controls, harmonizes and tempers the interests of all social classes, which are thereby protected in equal measure. Whereas, during the years of demo-liberal regime, labour looked with diffidence upon the state, was, in fact, outside the State and against the state, and considered the state an enemy of every day and every hour, there is not one working Italian today who does not seek a place in his Corporation or federation, who does not wish to be a living atom of that great, immense, living organization which is the national Corporate State of Fascism. (On the Fourth Anniversary of the March on Rome, October 28, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 340).”

    Seems like centralized control of industry to me. And we all know what centralized control is. You call it whatever you want but the concept is the same.

  3. Its absurd to have the federal reserve not only setting interest rates but determining the rate of expansion of credit and monetary base. It is a re-run of the coin clipping and currency debasement that toppled the roman empire from within. This latest decree is very bah-humbug but it is hardly the federal reserve’s greatest crime by a wide margin.

  4. so, if the bank wants to it can have two lines inside “whites only” and the other coloreds only”?

  5. The Federal congress has no authority whatsoever to limit speech, even more so with speech of a religious nature. This power to limit speech was specifically taken away from the federal congress (only local authorities can limit speech).

    The Federal Reserve is given its authority by congress who has no power whatsoever to limit speech.

    So who the heck are these fascists pigs and goons anyway? From what I understand thieves as well.

  6. I would like to take a moment to apologize to all the actual weasels no matter where they fall in the family Mustelidae.

    You don’t deserve to be associated with a site of of such low quality as TLS.

    I now return you to your normal routine of eating other small critters.

  7. Chan, Beyond J Brian’s example a few at least are still around that have long histories and a couple lasted a century or close to it. It could easily be argued that the Amish are a commune IMO and some of the earliest communes were religion based. Do a Wikipedia search.

  8. Had none of the communes first established in the U.S.A. in the 19th century not survived until today, the question as to why none survived would be useful.

    Alas, it is simply not so that none of said communes survived.

    The last time I checked, there were more than 40,000 people in the U.S. and Canada living in communes established circa 1874-79. They are the Hutterites, Anabaptists who came to North America from Russia because of military conscription issues.

    I welcome learning from people, who knows what, who believes what, and how who came to believe what.

    I do not fault people for not knowing whatever their life circumstances prevented them from learning. Were I to do that, I would regard myself as being disrespectful and plausibly also abusive.

    Some of the Hutterites have an active Internet presence.

    Like I sense is as true for everyone else as it is certainly true for me, my ignorance is plausibly infinite. My knowledge, by contrast, is tiny or less. I can change the size of my knowledge and understanding; it does not take all that much effort on my part to accomplish an increase in what I know and/or understand. I can imagine no measurable proportional diminution in my ignorance, not this side of an eternity of forevers…

    I have long realized that I will not ever garner sufficient knowledge and understanding to form even one valid judgment.

    Unless that is a judgment and not merely a hypothetical evaluation…

  9. LK,

    I’ve been watching the detective(s) and must say, “Good work.” I knew that weasel Marco was up to something . . . simply because he’s a weasel. 😉

  10. Bdaman: “Lottakatz if you’d like to learn more come over to my thread”

    YOUR thread, LOL, good one. Been there, disagree with you but I’m not particularly argumentative about Global warming.


    BIL, check the ABA thread; a special visitor and more research. I thought it was the celebrity nod but I was wrong, its guns.

  11. If you must use a Ridley Scott movie as a touchstone for history, yes he was, bdaman. One of the last roles of the late great Richard Harris (who along with Peter O’Toole had/has some of the best drinking stories of all time).

  12. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for almost 180 million years.

    Not according to this report

    The emissions of northern dinosaurs may have led to a warmer planet 70 million years ago, said a scientist attending the 2010 American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in mid-December.

    He figured the output of one hadrosaur equaled that of about 10 cows, and then he extrapolated. Because there are published reports on how much methane wafts from the average cow pie, Fiorillo figured that the Alaska hadrosaurs might have contributed an impressive amount of the greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. In short, “hadrosaurs may have contributed to a warmer Arctic,” he said.

    Read more: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner – Gaseous dinosaurs that ‘might have contributed’ to global warming


  13. Marcus Aurelius wasn’t he the guy that got killed by his son in the movie Gladiator.

  14. raff,

    Yes. Kinda like my dog once got friends when he met fleas. I’d have said worms of some sort, but this infestation isn’t nearly that serious.


    The Roman Republic lasted approximately 480 years before declining into Empire – which lasted approximately 200 years if you consider the fall being the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 CE. Almost three times as long as the U.S. has been a country and a damn sight longer than America will last at the current rate of decline.

    But please, tell us all how the gold standard of Empires throughout Western history was a failure. That’s about as dumb as saying humans are more successful than dinosaurs simply because we are here now and they are not.

    Before you start – dinosaurs ruled the Earth for almost 180 million years contrasted with human history which in its entirety is only about 10,000 years (tracing back to the origin of farming). Recorded human history is about half that time if you date that back to the Sumerians. Compared to dinosaurs – who had both free water and no economic at all that we can discern – humanity is a blink of the eye.

    As to what team I’m on? Resoundingly Jefferson’s. Or whichever one you’re not on for starts, greed boy. And by in large I have no problem with Locke, but he’d have a problem with your stance that unfettered greed is good. Locke felt that unlimited accumulation was a problem, but he punted the ball and said it wasn’t his problem to address. But he did think . . . wait for it . . . government should function to moderate the conflict between the unlimited accumulation of property and a more nearly equal distribution of wealth. Team? Hell, you don’t even understand your own cherry picked roster. You sure don’t understand the game that is civilization. Or much else beside what you want and damn the consequences.

    As to your “good stuff” (and by good stuff I still mean self-rationalizing garbage)? Is that unattributed copy/paste more of the mysterious Joey G.? Steven Wright once told me a friend of his found out that the Pyramids were financed by some guy named “Eddie”. Are Joey and Eddie related? Aren’t they both on “Jersey Shore”? Do they know “The Situation”? Are you really Snooki? Inquiring minds want to know.

    No. Not really. Inquiring minds think you’re a joke.

  15. Bubbha is Laughing:

    here is some more good stuff:

    “At the constitutional convention Hamilton proposed a permanent president who would appoint all the governors of the states and would have veto power over all state legislation. His opponents correctly interpreted this as advocating a monarchy and, worse yet, a monarchy based on mercantilism. The reason for consolidating all political power first in the central government, and then in the hands of one man, the permanent president, was so that an American mercantilist empire could be centrally planned and controlled without any dissenters, such as tax protestors or free traders who resided in the various states. Hamilton (and his political heirs) understood that forced national uniformity is the only way in which such a central-planning scheme could work. The socialists of the 20th century understood this as well.”

    I guess you just switched teams and didn’t even know it.

  16. Jefferson didnt like “Central Banks”, I believe you would call it the Federal Reserve.

    He was also a big fan of John Locke.

    Sorry Bubbha, he wasnt a democratic socialist no matter how much you may want him to be.

    Now Hamilton on the other hand:

    “Hamilton championed the cause of a large public debt — which he called “a public blessing” — not to establish the credit of the US government or to finance any particular public works projects but for the Machiavellian idea of tying the interests of the more affluent to the state: being government bondholders, they would, he believed, then support all of his grandiose plans for heavy taxation and a government much larger than what was called for in the Constitution. He was right. They, along with Wall Street investment bankers who have marketed the government’s bonds, have always provided effective political support for bigger government and higher taxes. That is why Wall Street investment bankers were first in line for a bailout, administered by one of their fellow investment bankers, Treasury Secretary Paulson.”

    Your intellectual house is built on sand Bubbha. But you have rose colored glasses so you cant see it.

  17. “Tony already rightly pointed out that socialism is the natural order among smaller groups of humans. To wit: “Socialism (not communism) is the default state of how humans organize their affairs in the typical native group of less than 200 persons. Socialism simply embraces the obvious truth that people can cooperate and reduce their costs, whether in terms of money or effort or time. Thirty families can EACH build an oven and a fire and all tend their baking bread separately, or with a tenth of the effort build a large community oven and all bake their bread together, with less firewood and less effort because one baker can tend 30 loaves about as easily as one loaf.”

    How come none of the communes from the 19th century survivied? There were many attempts and all failed unless they embraced a capitalist model.

    Where is Rome today? So much for free water.

Comments are closed.