Lynn v. Sekulow

Lynn v. Sekulow


Inaugural Prayer Opponents Are Right In Principle

posted by Rev. Barry W. Lynn

I realize, Jay, you are eager to draw me into this case
because your side is likely to win. My position has been consistent: Michael
Newdow and all of the other plaintiffs in this suit are right on principle, but
that doesn’t mean the court will agree with them.

Public events like presidential inaugurations,
gubernatorial swearings-in and even city council meetings should be open to
all. Everyone should feel welcome at these gatherings. When we include sectarian
prayer at such events, we send the message that some believers are more
welcome, even that they are better citizens. (Don’t bother arguing that
exclusion of prayers is hostility toward religion, Jay. Anyone is free to pray
on their own at any time during these events. It’s the government sponsorship I
object to, not the praying.)

Having said that, I accept that legal challenges like this
are not likely to succeed in the current judicial climate. Dr. Newdow brought a similar case in 2004 that was not successful. I failed to see the point in
bringing another (which is why AU did not join the case), but I do believe his
filing
brought a lot of important historical information to light.

Prayers at inaugurals are an on again, off again
phenomenon.  The Constitution’s version
of the Presidential oath does not end “so help me God.” I had hoped that Barack
Obama would have dropped both of these practices, but he did not.  (It only adds a problem that Rick Warren is
the first voice we’ll hear at the inaugural. I certainly don’t anticipate that
he will give some homophobic prayer, but we know him already by his acts
against same-sex marriage.)

In this case, you claim to be standing up for religious
freedom. What you are actually standing up for is a brief prayer recited in a
pro forma manner as part of day-long celebration to mark the instillation of a
secular ruler of an officially secular nation. You are standing up for the
coupling of religion and state in a highly symbolic and ritualized manner. Is
this a real prayer with a real religious message or just a by-rote exercise
that is included because everyone expects it to be?

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus warned against such
ostentatious public prayers. It’s better to pray alone in your closet, he said.
Jay, you have argued for the right to pray in public on behalf of the
government because it is “traditional.” Notwithstanding the evidence, that is
not even the issue. If a “tradition” (of whatever genesis or duration) is
non-inclusive and demonstrates an official preference for one religion over
others or religion in general over secularism it is wrong.  Plain wrong.



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Your Name

posted January 16, 2009 at 4:57 pm


As our forefathers intended, this great Nation was established “under God” and thus has flourished by virtue of the many blessings bestowed upon it by God. I believe we are seeing what happens to a nation when it turns its’ face from God. Attacks by the enemy, economic crisis and the moral decline of its’ people. I believe it will get even worse until we turn our face towards Him and truly trust in God. Otherwise we will fall just as Rome did.



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Your Name

posted January 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm


With all due respect Reverend, I think we need to look at the issue from a different perspective. We have all heard the arguments about preference shown when prayer is used at public events, and the same can be said in regard to preference, for public events where prayer is not allowed. The real issue is freedom. What are we free to do? It seems to me that a government which imposes legislation one way or the other is restricting our freedom; regardless of the specifics of the law.
The first amendment prohibits the congress from making any law regarding religion. That means we worship based on our own conscience and belief. I am not offended by Judaism, Buddhism, or any other religion for that matter. But like it or not, this is a country founded on Christian principles. If you look back at the original state constitutions, the evidence is unavoidably clear. Most states would not allow a person to take or hold a government position unless they first announced a belief in God Almighty and Jesus as Savior.
But I digress. My point Sir, is the freedom to worship should not and can not be regulated by government if we are to continue to consider ourselves a free nation. What will it be next? If enough people cry loud enough, would it be fair to stop an atheist from speaking out against God because some find it offensive. I certainly do. But since we live in a free country, I will support their right to speak as they will, just as they should support mine.
Besides, doesn’t the President of the United States have the right of free speach? Doesn’t he have the right to choose what he says? If his speach offends some, why don’t they exercise their right to not participate?
The question I always ask myself when I hear about things like this is: Is religion the problem, or is it our freedom? And what about the majority of us who are not offended by the phrase “so help me God”? What about our right to hear those words that we hold strong belief and faith in? We are the majority, isn’t that what a democracy is supposed to be?



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Your Name

posted January 16, 2009 at 6:14 pm


The Rev. has misstated the intent of the prayer in Matthew he refers to…Jesus was talking about the “religious” leaders who loved to make long and loud prayers drawing attention to themselves and their self righteousness.. instead of giving God glory…..as would be the case(hopefully) in the up coming inaugration..where we would be asking God to bless the event,the people and our country..and if the Reverend can’t comprehend this..then indeed he may be one who is a wolf in sheeps clothing.Abba is drawing out His True Bride..and the decevers will be exposed in The Light..You’re either for Him or not..There is no middle ground..no fence sitting…Come Lord Jesus may we once again,before it’s too late,become the One nation under GOD….as our founding fathers decreed..Amen..Let it be so….



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Joe

posted January 16, 2009 at 7:15 pm


It seems to me naive to think that being invited to give a prayer at a presidential inauguration, even to the degree it promotes someone your flock feels is dead wrong on various moral issues, will not lead to “drawing attention to themselves” and such.
BTW, Newdow in his lawsuit says that Obama himself can say “so help be God.” His problem is in part that CJ Roberts will change the inauguration oath/affirmation as it is written in the Constitution to add those words. Likewise, Obama can invite clergy to any number of events he will have. The inauguration, set up by a public body, is different.
The claim that the lawsuit will somehow override honoring God is thus unfounded. I put aside that “under God” does not mean “under the Protestant God honored by Protestant clergy” invited to the inauguration or that some believers of said God oppose such public mixing of church and state. Some of Rev. Warren’s flock for instance, oppose his involvement.
The demand for a sectarian support of God in this fashion is dubious.



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Alex

posted January 17, 2009 at 6:20 am


The real issue here is religious privilege. Christians in America have convinced themselves that America was somehow founded for them and that while they may be ‘tolerant’ of other faiths, or a lack of faith, at the end of the day, well, it’s a Christian nation and all those people who don’t have their faith in order should just be quiet.
Everyone’s right to worship whatever deity they want is not affected by a secular government, and in fact, it is well served by it, but my rights as an nonbeliever are sorely affected when government is wielded in the name of your god.



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Alex

posted January 17, 2009 at 6:23 am


The real issue here is religious privilege. Christians in America have convinced themselves that America was somehow founded for them and that while they may be ‘tolerant’ of other faiths, or a lack of faith, at the end of the day, well, it’s a Christian nation and all those people who don’t have their faith in order should just be quiet.
Everyone’s right to worship whatever deity they want is not affected by a secular government, and in fact, it is well served by it, but my rights as an nonbeliever are sorely affected when government is wielded in the name of your god.



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Mike Newdow

posted January 17, 2009 at 1:31 pm


“Dr. Newdow brought a similar case in 2004 that was not successful. I failed to see the point in bringing another (which is why AU did not join the case)” – Rev. Barry Lynn
I happen to know Newdow quite well, and – aside from his incredible good looks, suave demeanor, outstanding athletic ability, and god-like first name – he did have a point in bringing another case.
The last case was lost (as usual) on standing grounds. There were myriad arguments pertaining to those grounds, most of which were plainly wrong, and some of which were questionable, but remediable. This time, there is an impressionable child, thus bringing the case within Lee v. Weisman, rather than Marsh v. Chambers.
Similarly, there is the challenge to the Chief Justice, who – with no authority whatsoever – will alter the text as prescribed in the only oath given in the document. It is also the only quoted verbiage in the document. And it states that the President SHALL take that oath … not one that the Chief Justice of the USA decides to alter as he sees fit.



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Your Name

posted January 18, 2009 at 1:55 am


Wow, I am in awe. First, my thanks to Reverend Lynn for stating the basic thrust of why this is an offensive action in as succinct a manner as can be done. It is important that those who undertake these activities understand, because some may not, there is an offensive and a defensive posture involved. I am offended by their wrongful, unconstitutional, (as Mike points out) imposition of their will. Were there to be a wrongful inclusion of “swearing” no god exists, I would think it to be of equally offensive nature. Second, Michael is a saintly name to be sure, but Gray, now there’s a name so cool it’s always shaded! My thanks to both of you for seeing what is right and acting to keep us on the path.



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Barry Lynn

posted January 18, 2009 at 12:31 pm


Mike: There is no doubt about your charm and appearance. It is also true that Mike Newdow (whom you could be, but “you” could be an impersonator, this being the internet) gave a better oral argument in the Supreme Court during the Pledge of Allegiance case than I have seen from most “professional appellate counsel” I’ve watched over the years.
The courts have gotten standing wrong in so many ways in so many cases and I would not want anyone to think I agreed with them. However, I don’t see them changing their mind right now. By the way, in a comment cut from the Newsweek article on this matter, I also praised the tremendous history lesson one can get just by reading your brief in this case. That’s why I linked to it in my original blog on the topic.
You and I do disagree on the fundamental theological question: do we need to have theological questions. So I, not you, will be praying that my cable doesn’t go out on Tuesday because I’m certainly not going downtown.



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Boris

posted January 18, 2009 at 4:56 pm


Mike Newdow is a true American hero. I wouldn’t be surprised that in the longer view of history, say 100 years from now, Newdow will be mentioned along with the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Thomas Paine and other true American heroes.



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Your Name

posted January 18, 2009 at 9:49 pm


Mr. Lynn is incorrect in saying that the Inaugural Prayer is sectarian and excludes some people. By its nature, any Christian prayer includes the sum total of humanity. No one is excluded, regardless of his or her beliefs. The message of Christianity, the free salvation of Jesus Christ, is for everyone in the world. After all, the great text John 3:16 begins, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son….” There is nothing exclusionary in the Christian gospel.



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Boris

posted January 19, 2009 at 12:02 am


After all, the great text John 3:16 begins, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only son….” There is nothing exclusionary in the Christian gospel.
If Christians would just read a little further they would see: “…but whoever does not believe is judged already, because that person does not believe in the Name of God’s only son.” John 3:18. That’s as an exclusionary statement as can be made. People are judged for their beliefs and consigned to suffer for all eternity because they cannot believe something, not because they don’t want to but because it’s simply unbelievable. Apparently God so hated the world that he sent himself into the world so that those of us who doubt this could then be tortured with unimaginable violence for all eternity.



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Mary-Lee

posted January 19, 2009 at 1:50 pm


Heck, I’d go even farther than that. Prayers are recited because there are some Christians out there who believe that if we don’t pray all kinds of terrible things will happen to the United States. Of course that’s superstition, plain and simple. Sad that after so many years of mankind’s existence on this earth the supposedly most forward and most developed nation in the world is bound by superstition.



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Your Name

posted January 19, 2009 at 2:57 pm


If a person chooses not to believe in God’s perfect salvation, then that person has excluded himself. God has not done the excluding. God’s invitation is very believable and sometimes only requires a clear presentation to anyone willing to listen. God can’t hate the world if he loves it. Think of a man drowning, when someone rows over to him and extends a hand to help him out of the water. How ridiculous if the drowning man said, “I don’t believe you’re extending your hand to save me. Go away.” Who excluded whom? Who chose to drown?



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Your Name

posted January 19, 2009 at 3:05 pm


Partly true for sure, that some believe we must pray to avoid disastrous consequences. But that misses the point: I don’t pray because I wish to avoid bad things; I pray because I want to know the Creator of the universe. How can I know Him if I don’t talk to Him? Actually, bad things will happen if we neglect prayer, not because God wishes us harm, but because we refuse His help and protection. Think of it this way: suppose a newly wed couple sets up house, but from day one the wife refuses to say a single word to her husband. What will happen to the marriage?



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Your Name

posted January 20, 2009 at 12:59 am


If her husband was God, nothing would happen because he doesn’t exist. Pray to Santa if you want, don’t talk to your husband if you don’t want. Don’t drag me in by forcing me to (falsely) recognize a non-existant being in order to pledge allegiance to my country.



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Kevin

posted January 20, 2009 at 9:28 am


What continues to amaze me is the blatant revising of history on the subject of separation of church and state. Even the wording of the principle is plain, in that it states “separation of church and state”, not separation of God and state.
Our founding fathers clearly turned to the higher authority of God to found this nation in opposition to the authority of the King of England. No argument was ever made that we should separate ourselves from God, the creator, but rather the opposite, for his authority and blessing.
Revisionists today equate church, which is an institution of men, with God Himself, which was clearly not the founding father’s intent. They wanted to promote religious freedom, which meant our government could not be a theocracy controlled by a particular church, like the Church of England. Religious beliefs were not to be dictated to the individual by the government, but left to each individuals conscience.
If you equate “church” to God, then you have done exactly what our founding fathers meant to prevent, a government dictating religious expression, if only to those working for the government. In effect you have a theocracy of atheism, denying free religious expression by those employed in the government.
Atheism is a system of beliefs about God and creation, no different than any religious denomination, and to give it free reign in our government is to violate the principles of separation of church and state.
The only way to truly have freedom of religious expression as well as separation of church and state, is for the government not to limit anyone in expressing their faith or lack there of.



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Your Name

posted January 20, 2009 at 4:12 pm


There shall be no religion test, and Congress shall pass no law… How much clearer could they make it!? Madison spoke of the separation of government and religion, which is more accurate than Jefferson’s Wall of separation between church and state. Both exist in greater freedom and clarity when they are not co-mingled. So what does Bush do–he makes a religious office within the government, and an even greater ass of himself than he already was. Thank goodness he’s gone. It’ll take years to undo his gross errors.



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Boris

posted January 20, 2009 at 9:38 pm


How ironic that we ask someone to put their hand on a book that is as untrue as any that have ever been written, had more lies told about it than another subject and then ask them to swear to tell the truth. I guess one must be an atheist to appreciate the sheer absurdity of the whole ceremony.



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Your Name

posted January 21, 2009 at 11:23 am


Atheism is a system of beliefs about God and creation, no different than any religious denomination, and to give it free reign in our government is to violate the principles of separation of church and state.
I disagree with you when you claim that atheism if a system of beliefs about God and creation, no different from any other religious denomination. But that said, if it were no different from any other religious denomination, why would giving it free rein be a violation of separation of church and state? Would we not be required to respect atheism in the same way as we respect other religious beliefs? In other words, give it free rein?



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Frank

posted January 21, 2009 at 3:35 pm


“Atheism is a system of beliefs about God and creation, no different than any religious denomination, and to give it free reign in our government is to violate the principles of separation of church and state.”
There are an infinite number of things the government makes no mention of – you would not consider the government to be promoting disbelief in those infinite number of things. Leaving god out of politics does not endorse disbelief in god (atheism). It simply ensures that religion is not endorsed. Non-belief is the natural starting point until you are proven something. It is not an act of faith. You are not part of an infinite number of denominations for not believing in an infinite number of things, just as you are not part of a religious denomination for having an opinion that religious beliefs are false. You wouldn’t consider yourself to be part of a paranormal denomination for having the belief that psychics or ghosts don’t exist, right?



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Your Name

posted January 23, 2009 at 4:45 pm


God exists whether we believe in Him or not. Truth exists whether we acknowledge truth or not. 2+2=4 whether I accept it or not. Hydrogen is the first element in the periodic table, whether or not I believe it. There are many things and beings outside human experience, but just because we haven’t experienced them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The Bible is a historical narrative and also a love letter to all of humanity. It is not filled with mistakes or contradictions or fabrications, much as its detractors would like to believe. It defintely rubs some people the wrong way, and some people reject its message vehemnetly, but the Bible still stands as a revelation of truth concerning our universe, our human condition, and the One who created us.



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Your Name

posted January 23, 2009 at 7:19 pm


Once again everyone has missed the true meaninfg of the seperation of church and state. The true meaning of it was intended to be that the government would not be allowed to set up any particular religion over another. It does not say people in the government can not speak of their faith or beliefs or that they should not be included in thier decissions. Any person who has actually read the founding documents of the U.S.A. can plainly see that they were all God fearing men who believed in a Creator.



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Your Name

posted January 23, 2009 at 10:57 pm


No, the religion clauses prevent government not only from setting up one religion over another, but from dealing with spiritual OPINION; of which everyone is entitled to their own. Government deals with ACTIONS, not opinions.



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Your Name

posted January 24, 2009 at 2:20 pm


Boris just because you claim that none of the FACTS found in the bible (“there is not one single mention outside of the Bible”)are not found outside of the bible does not make it so. Please do yourself and all of us a favor, and check your facts. History, science, astronomy, poets, archeology, and so on and so on all supports and confirms the bible.
Plus, have you considered all of the prophecies in the bible? There are over 3,000 of them. Where else can you find the truth foretold in this manner with such concise accuracy and find it can be established founded, and proved in history? Has a psychic ever come close to doing this or would they even try? Probably not as they would be found out. How can you expect anyone with half a brain to follow this logic of yours without facts? Maybe that is all that is required, one who will believe anything. We beleive the bible to be true not soley on faith, but it proves itself to those willing to search out the truth. It’s easy to take portions, twist it, and badger it, but it’s a challenge to prove it wrong with facts. I hope you will do this one day for yourself.



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Boris

posted January 24, 2009 at 7:30 pm


YOUR NAME
First I have consulted history, science, astronomy, poets, archeology, and so on and so on and there is absolutely nothing that mentions Any of the major figures in the Bible nor any of the events. If there was even one thing we would never hear the end of it from you Christians. In fact if such a proof existed why didn’t you mention one? Gotcha. Obviously you’re the one who needs to get his facts straight ROFL!
Prophecies in the Bible? Are you kidding me? The classic set up and payoff of fiction. Even Christian scholars agree that the supposed prediction of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem was written many decades AFTER the event actually took place. Each of the prophecies is confirmed in no other place except in the Bible. We have no independent evidence that events actually took place as described – especially the ones happening in heaven. Before making the extraordinary claim that something supernatural occurred, simple common sense tells us that we must rule out the ordinary, far more plausible account that the events are fictional, written so as to conform to biblical prophecies. For example, Prophecy 55 takes the opening words of one of David’s Psalms, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” (Ps. 22:1a, King James Version) and sees this precisely fulfilled with Jesus’ last words on the cross (Matt 27:46). Which is the more plausible account: an extraordinary event in which a thousand years earlier David predicted the exact words of the Messiah (although he does not identify them as such) or a perfectly ordinary one in which Matthew puts these words in Jesus’ mouth when telling the story of the crucifixion? Or, perhaps Jesus really used these words, remembered from the Psalm.
I have often been asked, “How do you explain that many of the Bible’s prophecies have been fulfilled?” I usually answer like this: The same way I explain that your daily newspaper horoscope is always “fulfilled” and millions of Americans swear by the predictions of The Psychic Friends’ Network. In all these instances, the prophecies are so incredibly vague as to mean practically anything. Bertrand Russell once remarked that “the Bible is known for many things, but clarity is not among them.” David Mills was a devout believer back in the early 1970’s. He was absolutely convinced that Jesus’ second coming was at hand. He read all of Hal Lindsay’s books foretelling the end of the world based on Old and New Testament prophecies. It wasn’t until years later that David studied church history and realized that every generation for two-thousand years has believed that Jesus’ second coming was imminent, because Bible prophecies allegedly foretold events of their generations also. I always like to state that, in my opinion, the individuals who wrote the Bible had a non-prophet organization. Prophecies though, are not predictions nor are they any other form of fortunetelling. The Bible clearly says that even God cannot tell what the future will bring: And I thought, “After she has done all this she will return to me”; but she did not return and her false sister Judah saw it (Jer 3:7). About Judah the Bible says, God had a vineyard and he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes (Isa 5:2). The Bible says that what God expects to happen and how things actually turn out can often be quite different form each other.



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N. Lindzee Lindholm

posted October 28, 2009 at 9:29 pm


Rev. Lynn: Proclaiming the anthem of “separation of church and state” seems to be your god in comparison to praising the one, true God. This god, the ideology of separation of church and state, is found nowhere in the Bible regardless of you quoting Jesus’ teaching about the OSTENTATIOUS public prayers (WAY OUT OF CONTEXT by the way) to support your proposition. The key word here as you noted is OSTENTATIOUS. Saying a prayer at the Presidential Inauguration is no way showy but a sincere expression of the undeniable truth that the freedoms granted to this country are inevitably endowed by our Creator, God, a truth that exists eternally and is the scaffold of our nation’s heritage and history. For thus it was, is now, and shall be ever more.



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Previous Posts

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Thank you for visiting LynnvSekulow. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Jay Sekulow: Faith and Justice  Happy Reading!

posted 11:26:38am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Lynn V. Sekulow. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Jay Sekulow's Faith and Justice Happy Reading!!!

posted 10:36:04am Jul. 06, 2012 | read full post »

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Barry,   It's hard to believe that we've been debating these constitutional issues for more than two years now in this space.  I have tremendous respect for you and wish you all the best in your new endeavors.   My friend, I'm sure we will continue to square off in other forums - on n

posted 4:52:22pm Dec. 02, 2010 | read full post »

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Well Jay, the time has come for me to say goodbye. Note to people who are really happy about this: I'm not leaving the planet, just this blog.As I noted in a personal email, after much thought, I have decided to end my participation and contribution to Lynn v. Sekulow and will be doing some blogging

posted 12:24:43pm Nov. 21, 2010 | read full post »

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posted 11:46:49am Nov. 05, 2010 | read full post »




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