Christmas Tree Glitter - hundreds of metallic christmas tree shapes in red and green coloursThe 2010 edition of the annual “war on Christmas” marches on. This time it involves bellyaching by a bank in Oklahoma, which has been told by federal regulators to stop using their business to proselytize. KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City reports on this controversy, which sounds more draconian than it really is (WebCite cached article):

A small-town bank in Oklahoma said the Federal Reserve won’t let it keep religious signs and symbols on display.

Federal Reserve examiners come every four years to make sure banks are complying with a long list of regulations. The examiners came to Perkins last week. And the team from Kansas City deemed a Bible verse of the day, crosses on the teller’s counter and buttons that say “Merry Christmas, God With Us.” were inappropriate. The Bible verse of the day on the bank’s Internet site also had to be taken down.

Residents are upset by this imposition:

“This is just ridiculous,” said bank customer Jim Nyles. “This whole thing is just ridiculous. We all have regulatory bodies that govern us. But this is too much.”

“I think that’s absurd,” said Chelsi Holser, a bank customer. “I don’t agree with it at all. They are taking Christ out of Christmas and life.”

But the regulations exist, and the Federal Reserve is required to enforce them. KOCO explains them:

Specifically, the feds believed, the symbols violated the discouragement clause of Regulation B of the bank regulations. According to the clause, “…the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication … express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion.”

The feds interpret that to mean, for example, a Jew or Muslim or atheist may be offended and believe they may be discriminated against at this bank. It is an appearance of discrimination.

Now, I worked at a bank in the 1980s. We had Christmas trees in the lobby and various other decorations, and employees wished their customers “Merry Christmas.” And I’m not sure the Fed is saying, in this case, that any of that is unacceptable. This action appears to be triggered by the fact that this particular bank — which, curiously, is not named by KOCO — goes much further than that. At the bank I worked at, we did not push Bible verses on customers and didn’t wear pins that said, “God with us.” This bank, on the other hand, is making a concerted effort to proselytize to its customers. This is the kind of thing Reg B is trying to prevent.

As one usually expects of Christians, they’re feeling persecuted, which leads them to say foolish things:

“I think that’s absurd,” said Chelsi Holser, a bank customer. “I don’t agree with it at all. They are taking Christ out of Christmas and life.”

Did you catch that? This customer things the Fed is “taking Christ out of … life.” I have no idea how they could possibly go that far. How “out of life“? They aren’t taking Christ out of anyone’s “life.” They’re not going into homes and swiping Christmas trees, Bibles and crosses; they aren’t shutting down churches; they aren’t taking nativities off of people’s lawns. They aren’t doing any of that.

It would behoove people like Ms Holser to stop deluding themselves. There is no effort underway in the US to abolish Christ or Christianity. None. Nowhere. It is not happening. Period. End of discussion.

What’s more, being a Christian is not — to my knowledge — an automatic entitlement to disobey Federal Reserve regulations. If you want to own and operate a Federal Reserve-backed bank, then you have to follow their rules. That shouldn’t be too much to ask of law-abiding, upstanding Christians.

Photo credit: Christmasstockimages.Com.

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