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Fed Reverses Ban on Christian Symbols, Verses at Oklahoma Bank

Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Kansas City Federal Reserve President Thomas Hoenig said employees of banks under Fed supervision may display religious symbols, reversing a ban on Christian verses and Christmas symbols at a community bank in Oklahoma.

Following the Fed’s decision, Payne County Bank in Perkins, Oklahoma, restored Bible verses to its website and the display of Christian symbols and Christmas items in its building, the community bank said today. They were removed after a Kansas City Fed examiner said they could be regarded as discriminatory and impede fair lending, the bank said.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act, “as interpreted by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, does not apply to jewelry or other personal items displayed in the workplace,” Hoenig said today in a statement.

Senior Kansas City Fed officials conferred with the Fed in Washington before allowing the bank to restore the Christian symbols, the community bank said in a statement on its website.

The bank said it appreciated “the generous outpouring of support and prayers of Americans from all over.”

U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe and Representative Frank Lucas, both Republicans from Oklahoma, complained about the examiner’s decision today in a joint letter to Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

“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 in a statement posted on his website. He called for the Fed to “rectify this situation quickly.”

Stories on the Federal Reserve and rules: {TNI FED RULES <GO>} Today’s top financial stories: {FTOP <GO>}

To contact the reporters on this story: Steve Matthews in Atlanta at smatthews@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net

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