Issue Letter to Fed Chairman Bernanke Seeking Answers

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.-3) today issued a joint letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke over what the two view as a distressing interpretation of Federal Reserve Regulation B concerning a bank in Perkins, Oklahoma.

Federal Reserve action prompted the letter from Inhofe and Lucas when the two members were contacted by bank officials seeking assistance in dealing with the offensive interpretation that appears to be without precedent, possibly contradicts other US laws, and violates fundamental Constitutional protections enjoyed by every citizen of the United States.

This is an all out assault on the faith, values, and rights of the bank, its employees and the people of Perkins they serve, Inhofe said. It is absolutely ridiculous for the regulation to be interpreted this way, and it unduly discriminates against a persons faith in Christ and their Constitutionally protected freedom to publically express that faith. It is simply another case of liberals in Washington overstepping their bounds and intruding in the lives of individuals. I expect the Federal Reserve to rectify this situation quickly.

Lucas said, The recent actions taken by the Federal Reserve at Payne County Bank are of great concern to me. I do not agree with its interpretation of Regulation B in this circumstance and believe that it infringes upon fundamental Constitutional rights afforded to all Americans. I encourage the Federal Reserve to review the situation and take the appropriate action to address it.

The bank in Perkins recently underwent a consumer compliance examination in which the examiner demanded that the bank remove a link on its website to Bible verses. The bank had a section of its website dedicated to helpful links, including, among others, links to weather reports, a local newspaper, and a verse of the day. The bank was told by the Federal Reserve examiner that providing a link to the Bible verse constituted a violation of Regulation B, pursuant to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

In addition to demanding removal of the link, the Federal Reserve examiner demanded that all religious items or religious themed messages within customer view in the banks lobby be removed. This demand included personal items of religious expression placed on the counte near bank tellers workplaces and an individuals 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.

Click here to read the letter.