Have you heard the story in Oklahoma where “Feds Force Bank to Remove Crosses, Bible Verses and Christmas Buttons”? The reason: It’s offensive to Muslim and Jewish customers. My first thought was “Okay, the bank is Federally-regulated.” The Federal Government, especially under this administration, is not especially friendly to religious expression when government funding is involved. I don’t necessarily agree with it. But I can live with it, as long as they’re consistent.
So, I went to Google to see how the other great religions are treated by the Feds in the world of banking … to see if they are being, well, consistent. This is what I found:
Several banks in the U.S. have recently introduced “sharia-compliant mortgages.” In fact, according the USA Today, “Giant mortgage investor Freddie Mac began buying sharia-compliant mortgages in 2001. Freddie Mac today continues to buy from four banks that together originate mortgages nationwide. In addition to Devon, Freddie Mac buys mortgages from Guidance Residential in Reston, Va.; University Bank in Ann Arbor, Mich.; and American Finance House Lariba in Pasadena, Calif.” http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2008-03-26-islamic-finance-sharia_N.htm
Freddie Mac? Didn’t the Feds loan them billions of dollars recently? So, I googled “Devon Bank.”
I found that this FDIC-backed bank promotes “Faith-based financing.” (Here’s the link: http://www.devonbank.com/pf_faithbasedfinancing.html) So, why can this urban bank in Illinois promote a “faith” but not a bank in a little town in Oklahoma? After following links on the Devon Bank web page, I discovered what faith in which the Devon Bank is basing their finance practices: Islam. As you can see from simply reading the word “Islamic” in the link:http://www.devonbank.com/islamic/index.html.
In fact, the Devon Bank has an “Islamic Finance Division.” I wonder what their buttons promote?
Now, I have no problem with the Devon Bank or any bank giving out interest-free “sharia-compliant mortgages.” In fact, I think I might go get me one — though I think many of my Jewish friends will probably pass. I do, however, have a major problem with the inconsistency of the Federal Reserve.
I will repeat what I said in an earlier blog, “… this isn’t a decree against Islam. It’s a decree against knuckleheads! More succinctly, its a degree against the knuckleheads who think celebrating Christmas is offensive to Muslims” — and those who use what is most precious to us, Our Faith, to divide us. The most expensive Christmas tree resides in the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. While in Ephesus, Christians and Muslims pray together “without confusion and in peace” at a Shrine to the Virgin Mary.
So how can celebrating Christmas be offensive to Muslims? I’ll suggest pondering that question while sipping on Egg Nog with Barbra Streisand’s “Christmas Memories” playing in the background. Ho, ho, ho!