Polygamists’ children

In an issue we have been following, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the children of that polygamist Mormon sect should be returned to their parents. I agree. Consider the precedents and how they could be applied against Christian families.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Philip

    I disagree with returning children to the FLDS. The FLDS does not have families, the FLDS is a regimented society that has neither caring or love for the children of plural marriages.
    The children are building blocks which will provide a structure to push the lead husband into the Morman celestial kingdom.
    The Morman family is a pyramid which if big enough will propel the original husband into becoming a god who will in turn be given his own planet to populate with multiple wives. Children of many generations form the bricks and stones of the pyramid so that one man may be glorified.
    A pyramid has no relationship to a family.

  • Philip

    I disagree with returning children to the FLDS. The FLDS does not have families, the FLDS is a regimented society that has neither caring or love for the children of plural marriages.
    The children are building blocks which will provide a structure to push the lead husband into the Morman celestial kingdom.
    The Morman family is a pyramid which if big enough will propel the original husband into becoming a god who will in turn be given his own planet to populate with multiple wives. Children of many generations form the bricks and stones of the pyramid so that one man may be glorified.
    A pyramid has no relationship to a family.

  • Joe

    Philip – I agree with your condemnation of the FLDS but the question is one of governmental authority. And the Texas Supreme Court did the right thing. Unless of course you want the gov’t to be empowered, without any evidence except an anonymous tip, to come into your home and take all of your kids away. Remember they had no grounds to enter the FDLS homes except the phone call that now even the police are saying was a fraud.

  • Joe

    Philip – I agree with your condemnation of the FLDS but the question is one of governmental authority. And the Texas Supreme Court did the right thing. Unless of course you want the gov’t to be empowered, without any evidence except an anonymous tip, to come into your home and take all of your kids away. Remember they had no grounds to enter the FDLS homes except the phone call that now even the police are saying was a fraud.

  • B.Wink

    What I don’t understand about all of this is the fact that polygamy is illegal in this country. Why isn’t something being done about that? It’s amazing what they are getting away with. I agree with Philip. And I think there is more evidence present here than the initial phone call. This compound has existed for years and everyone knows what has been going on.

  • B.Wink

    What I don’t understand about all of this is the fact that polygamy is illegal in this country. Why isn’t something being done about that? It’s amazing what they are getting away with. I agree with Philip. And I think there is more evidence present here than the initial phone call. This compound has existed for years and everyone knows what has been going on.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    I read that one problem with prosecuting polygamy is that these folks don’t have marriage licenses. In the eyes of the law, they aren’t married at all. Therefore everything is just “consensual sex,” which the state today has nothing to say about.

    The reasoning is circular, like that liberal Presbyterian finding I posted about that allowed gay marriage by not allowing it. (The pastor didn’t perform gay marriages because, by church definition, they don’t exist.)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Veith

    I read that one problem with prosecuting polygamy is that these folks don’t have marriage licenses. In the eyes of the law, they aren’t married at all. Therefore everything is just “consensual sex,” which the state today has nothing to say about.

    The reasoning is circular, like that liberal Presbyterian finding I posted about that allowed gay marriage by not allowing it. (The pastor didn’t perform gay marriages because, by church definition, they don’t exist.)

  • Joe

    B. Wink – all of the other evidence was a product of the illegal searches that were based on the phone call. That people “know” what is going on is hardly legally sufficient. The local sheriff stated several times that until the phone call he had no basis to access the ranch and therefore he had no idea what was or was not actually going on. Oddly, the biggest surprise to me was the number of monogamous families that turned out to be living on the ranch. I “knew” that they were all polygamists. Getting to the “right” outcome does not justify tossing out hundreds of years of constitutional law. An uncorroborated anonymous phone call is never enough to enter someone’s home and conduct a search. And it never should be. Imagine the problems that could result.

  • Joe

    B. Wink – all of the other evidence was a product of the illegal searches that were based on the phone call. That people “know” what is going on is hardly legally sufficient. The local sheriff stated several times that until the phone call he had no basis to access the ranch and therefore he had no idea what was or was not actually going on. Oddly, the biggest surprise to me was the number of monogamous families that turned out to be living on the ranch. I “knew” that they were all polygamists. Getting to the “right” outcome does not justify tossing out hundreds of years of constitutional law. An uncorroborated anonymous phone call is never enough to enter someone’s home and conduct a search. And it never should be. Imagine the problems that could result.

  • Bror Erickson

    I hear in Pennsylvania all you have to do is say you are married to someone to be considered legally married. Something about the Quakers and what not way back when. Maybe all states should adopt those laws, then we could effectively prosecute for polygamy. But it does pose a conundrum for the state to prosecute. They won’t allow a person to get married to more than one person in that they only allow one license. It the guy has to legal wives then they can prosecute. But by what standard do you consider people to be married if they don’t have the license? Cohabitation, Children? Might work, I don’t know. Many states are doing away with common law marriage now, so…

  • Bror Erickson

    I hear in Pennsylvania all you have to do is say you are married to someone to be considered legally married. Something about the Quakers and what not way back when. Maybe all states should adopt those laws, then we could effectively prosecute for polygamy. But it does pose a conundrum for the state to prosecute. They won’t allow a person to get married to more than one person in that they only allow one license. It the guy has to legal wives then they can prosecute. But by what standard do you consider people to be married if they don’t have the license? Cohabitation, Children? Might work, I don’t know. Many states are doing away with common law marriage now, so…

  • S. Bauer

    And going after polygamy is going to have repercussions between the state and muslim citizens.

  • S. Bauer

    And going after polygamy is going to have repercussions between the state and muslim citizens.

  • jim claybourn

    not to mention – one of the reasons that was put forth to justify taking the children was that parents were unfit because their minor children were having sex. Imagine the possible repercussions if that was upheld.

  • jim claybourn

    not to mention – one of the reasons that was put forth to justify taking the children was that parents were unfit because their minor children were having sex. Imagine the possible repercussions if that was upheld.

  • Philip

    I understand the reservations some have about government authority. First the “marriages” are frauds which are empowered by welfare programs. Second a marriage does not exist when underage females are forced into sex. That is rape.
    The government has a legitimate interest in the welfare of taxpayers and underage girls who are preyed upon by men.

  • Philip

    I understand the reservations some have about government authority. First the “marriages” are frauds which are empowered by welfare programs. Second a marriage does not exist when underage females are forced into sex. That is rape.
    The government has a legitimate interest in the welfare of taxpayers and underage girls who are preyed upon by men.

  • WebMonk

    That’s the problem though Philip – so far they haven’t found any underage females in that compound that have been shown to have been forced to have sex.

    If they had even the smallest shred of proof, they would be trumpeting it to all the news outlets, but so far they haven’t found any instances of underage sex.

  • WebMonk

    That’s the problem though Philip – so far they haven’t found any underage females in that compound that have been shown to have been forced to have sex.

    If they had even the smallest shred of proof, they would be trumpeting it to all the news outlets, but so far they haven’t found any instances of underage sex.

  • B.Wink

    They haven’t found any underage females because the females themselves haven’t admitted it. That’s a shame. In the end the abuse and brainwashing of these women and children will continue. These men know what they are doing. (When you find a bed in the middle of the temple, c’mon!)

    Joe – I understand and agree that the end doesn’t justify the means – but it is a very sad situation nonetheless.

  • B.Wink

    They haven’t found any underage females because the females themselves haven’t admitted it. That’s a shame. In the end the abuse and brainwashing of these women and children will continue. These men know what they are doing. (When you find a bed in the middle of the temple, c’mon!)

    Joe – I understand and agree that the end doesn’t justify the means – but it is a very sad situation nonetheless.

  • B.Wink

    Living in Utah we hear quite a bit about the polygamist FLDS sect. On tonight’s news the conditions for the childrens’ returns were broadcast. Good news that the state will continue its investigation and must be allowed to go and check on the children. Also, the state of Texas will begin criminal investigations of several of the men in the compound.

    Also, Warren Jeffs will be required to give a sample of his DNA. A warrant was issued for this.

    Joe – the thing is, Jeffs was the prophet of the FLDS. He has been proven to have had sex with at least 4 girls aged 12 to 15. Don’t you think that the other men in his “religion” followed his lead?? Hopefully we shall see as the investigation continues. (What the local sheriff says has no merit for me since the local law enforcement in Utah was found to have been bribed).

  • B.Wink

    Living in Utah we hear quite a bit about the polygamist FLDS sect. On tonight’s news the conditions for the childrens’ returns were broadcast. Good news that the state will continue its investigation and must be allowed to go and check on the children. Also, the state of Texas will begin criminal investigations of several of the men in the compound.

    Also, Warren Jeffs will be required to give a sample of his DNA. A warrant was issued for this.

    Joe – the thing is, Jeffs was the prophet of the FLDS. He has been proven to have had sex with at least 4 girls aged 12 to 15. Don’t you think that the other men in his “religion” followed his lead?? Hopefully we shall see as the investigation continues. (What the local sheriff says has no merit for me since the local law enforcement in Utah was found to have been bribed).

  • Joe

    B.Wink – A whole bunch of Roman Catholic priests were found guilty or otherwise admitted to molesting young boys. So by your logic we should round every Roman Catholic kid in the country to prevent this institutionalized abuse from happening. See the danger in not having individualized proof. Just because they all are believers in this goofy sect can not alone justify the removal of these kids.

    As for the welfare fraud angle, I hope like heck that the state can prove it but it really doesn’t have anything to do with taking someone’s child away from them.

  • Joe

    B.Wink – A whole bunch of Roman Catholic priests were found guilty or otherwise admitted to molesting young boys. So by your logic we should round every Roman Catholic kid in the country to prevent this institutionalized abuse from happening. See the danger in not having individualized proof. Just because they all are believers in this goofy sect can not alone justify the removal of these kids.

    As for the welfare fraud angle, I hope like heck that the state can prove it but it really doesn’t have anything to do with taking someone’s child away from them.

  • B.Wink

    Joe – I never said that just because they are believers the kids should be removed. I said that I was grateful that an investigation would ensue. This is a specific sect that lives in a compound. It seems as if you don’t see the difference between this “cult” and the RCC. (Not my logic – your poorly drawn conclusion to what I said). If you don’t see that these women and children are by and large brainwashed & abused then by your logic you have no problem allowing this to continue. I suggest you do some further research into these polygamist compounds.

  • B.Wink

    Joe – I never said that just because they are believers the kids should be removed. I said that I was grateful that an investigation would ensue. This is a specific sect that lives in a compound. It seems as if you don’t see the difference between this “cult” and the RCC. (Not my logic – your poorly drawn conclusion to what I said). If you don’t see that these women and children are by and large brainwashed & abused then by your logic you have no problem allowing this to continue. I suggest you do some further research into these polygamist compounds.

  • WebMonk

    “They haven’t found any underage females because the females themselves haven’t admitted it.”

    Not exactly. That was something CPS tried in the courts, and it worked on a temporary basis – the kids were taken away. But now, they are tracking down birth certificates, and in EVERY case that they have gotten a birth certificate, it has shown that the girl was not underage.

    Now, even though they haven’t tracked down certificates for everyone, the judges have declared that because there haven’t been any proven cases of underage sex so far, the children must be returned until there is some solid proof.

    Like you, I’m glad for the continuing investigation, but I’m also VERY glad that the kids are being reunited with their parents until actual proof can be shown. The kids shouldn’t have been separated in the first place without proof, but at least it’s being corrected.

  • WebMonk

    “They haven’t found any underage females because the females themselves haven’t admitted it.”

    Not exactly. That was something CPS tried in the courts, and it worked on a temporary basis – the kids were taken away. But now, they are tracking down birth certificates, and in EVERY case that they have gotten a birth certificate, it has shown that the girl was not underage.

    Now, even though they haven’t tracked down certificates for everyone, the judges have declared that because there haven’t been any proven cases of underage sex so far, the children must be returned until there is some solid proof.

    Like you, I’m glad for the continuing investigation, but I’m also VERY glad that the kids are being reunited with their parents until actual proof can be shown. The kids shouldn’t have been separated in the first place without proof, but at least it’s being corrected.

  • B.Wink

    All that checking the birth certificates proves is that there are no children born to underage women. It sure doesn’t prove that underage sex isn’t occurring. Again, these men are smart – and are very careful to make sure there is no “evidence”, even if it is in the form of a child. Also, if you read accounts of women who have come out of the FLDS they repeat over and over how they had been taught to lie and mislead.

  • B.Wink

    All that checking the birth certificates proves is that there are no children born to underage women. It sure doesn’t prove that underage sex isn’t occurring. Again, these men are smart – and are very careful to make sure there is no “evidence”, even if it is in the form of a child. Also, if you read accounts of women who have come out of the FLDS they repeat over and over how they had been taught to lie and mislead.

  • Joe

    B. Wink – I know plenty about the disgusting things that occur in these sects. I just am not willing to ignore the constitution and the law to correct it.

    When you make statements like: “Jeffs was the prophet of the FLDS. He has been proven to have had sex with at least 4 girls aged 12 to 15. Don’t you think that the other men in his “religion” followed his lead??” and then someone concludes that you are arguing guilt by association; such a conclusion is hardly “poorly drawn.” If you wish to avoid “poorly drawn” conclusions in the future don’t make poorly thought out arguments. Whether you are advocating removal or the investigation of individual families, I stand by the same. Whether Warren Jeffs is a child molester is really not sufficient evidence to conclude that all of the other men in the sect must also be child molesters. Some probably are and some probably aren’t but we are required to deal with the particularized facts of each family.

  • Joe

    B. Wink – I know plenty about the disgusting things that occur in these sects. I just am not willing to ignore the constitution and the law to correct it.

    When you make statements like: “Jeffs was the prophet of the FLDS. He has been proven to have had sex with at least 4 girls aged 12 to 15. Don’t you think that the other men in his “religion” followed his lead??” and then someone concludes that you are arguing guilt by association; such a conclusion is hardly “poorly drawn.” If you wish to avoid “poorly drawn” conclusions in the future don’t make poorly thought out arguments. Whether you are advocating removal or the investigation of individual families, I stand by the same. Whether Warren Jeffs is a child molester is really not sufficient evidence to conclude that all of the other men in the sect must also be child molesters. Some probably are and some probably aren’t but we are required to deal with the particularized facts of each family.

  • WebMonk

    I’m with Joe on this one – I agree that it’s very probable (to the point of personal certainty) that there is underage sexual abuse going on in the sect. Nonetheless, until there is proof showing abuse, these kids should be returned. Otherwise, children are being taken away from parents on unsubstantiated suspicions.

    If nothing else, look at it this way – if the state can take children away from those parents on the mere suspicion of abuse, what is there to stop them from taking your children away on a suspicion of abuse without evidence.

    This also carries down to the level of investigations – compared to removing children, there is a much lower level of evidence needed to trigger an investigation for abuse, but that level should still be reached before an investigation is launched.

    I think (from my 2000-mile-away POV) that the level needed to have an investigation probably (only probably) has been reached in this case, but unless/until that investigation brings proof of abuse, those kids ought to stay with their families.

  • WebMonk

    I’m with Joe on this one – I agree that it’s very probable (to the point of personal certainty) that there is underage sexual abuse going on in the sect. Nonetheless, until there is proof showing abuse, these kids should be returned. Otherwise, children are being taken away from parents on unsubstantiated suspicions.

    If nothing else, look at it this way – if the state can take children away from those parents on the mere suspicion of abuse, what is there to stop them from taking your children away on a suspicion of abuse without evidence.

    This also carries down to the level of investigations – compared to removing children, there is a much lower level of evidence needed to trigger an investigation for abuse, but that level should still be reached before an investigation is launched.

    I think (from my 2000-mile-away POV) that the level needed to have an investigation probably (only probably) has been reached in this case, but unless/until that investigation brings proof of abuse, those kids ought to stay with their families.

  • Dan

    The siezure was blatantly unconstitutional. I’m not a fan of polygamy- one wife is enough. But CPS said that the environment and the religious teachings alone constituted abuse- if that logic was upheld by the courts what would stop the gov’t from closing down parochial schools or even catechism classes because “hate was being promoted” [in terms of the gay marriage issue 6th commandment- Romans 1 etc...]. and other doctrines of Scripture? If the hate/thought crimes bill passes in the future that is not a far fetched scenario.

  • Dan

    The siezure was blatantly unconstitutional. I’m not a fan of polygamy- one wife is enough. But CPS said that the environment and the religious teachings alone constituted abuse- if that logic was upheld by the courts what would stop the gov’t from closing down parochial schools or even catechism classes because “hate was being promoted” [in terms of the gay marriage issue 6th commandment- Romans 1 etc...]. and other doctrines of Scripture? If the hate/thought crimes bill passes in the future that is not a far fetched scenario.

  • B.Wink

    Joe – I don’t mind the disagreement with me, but you are rude.

  • B.Wink

    Joe – I don’t mind the disagreement with me, but you are rude.

  • Lisa

    ” I know plenty about the disgusting things that occur in these sects. I just am not willing to ignore the constitution and the law to correct it.” We must obey God rather than men. There have been innumerable times in history that men should have or could have acted to help or save people from abuse or death. What good is the constitution to a young girl that is being forced into sex?

  • Lisa

    ” I know plenty about the disgusting things that occur in these sects. I just am not willing to ignore the constitution and the law to correct it.” We must obey God rather than men. There have been innumerable times in history that men should have or could have acted to help or save people from abuse or death. What good is the constitution to a young girl that is being forced into sex?

  • Joe

    Lisa – allowing the gov’t to violate its own secular rules has nothing to do with following God rather than men. Texas has not raided the compound to advance the Word of God, they have done it to advance a secular agenda (one which has as its goal an objective good – preventing child abuse – but is still a secular agenda). Gov’t is not in the business of advancing God’s Word. I would love for someone to penetrate this group and teach them about the real Christ – not their watered down version. But we cannot give the gov’t the unbridled authority to stamp out “evil” without due process of law – that is how tyranny is born. If the gov’t was allowed to do what it did in Texas who would be next? Canada is already prosecuting people who say that homosexuality is a sin; several Lutheran pastors in Sweden (or Finland) were investigated by the gov’t for refusing to share the pulpit with female pastors. Do you really want a gov’t with this kind of power watching over you? I don’t ; I still want freedom.

  • Joe

    Lisa – allowing the gov’t to violate its own secular rules has nothing to do with following God rather than men. Texas has not raided the compound to advance the Word of God, they have done it to advance a secular agenda (one which has as its goal an objective good – preventing child abuse – but is still a secular agenda). Gov’t is not in the business of advancing God’s Word. I would love for someone to penetrate this group and teach them about the real Christ – not their watered down version. But we cannot give the gov’t the unbridled authority to stamp out “evil” without due process of law – that is how tyranny is born. If the gov’t was allowed to do what it did in Texas who would be next? Canada is already prosecuting people who say that homosexuality is a sin; several Lutheran pastors in Sweden (or Finland) were investigated by the gov’t for refusing to share the pulpit with female pastors. Do you really want a gov’t with this kind of power watching over you? I don’t ; I still want freedom.

  • WebMonk

    Lisa, there’s a world of difference between “knowing” and “proving”. In the governmental arena, there must be proof, or at least a definite reason for suspicion, for action to take place.

    What would you have happen in these cases? Should CPS be able to take away the children of anyone who has an anonymous call made about them claiming abuse? Hopefully you would say “no” to that.

    But, that’s exactly what you seem to want to happen to the FLDS sect – anyone can make an anonymous call and CPS will immediately take the kids away from the parents without any proof of abuse.

    “We must obey God rather than men.”

    In what POSSIBLE way has there been any disobedience of what God says by following the laws of men in this case?!? Has someone who knew about abuse not coming forward? Is someone hiding evidence of abuse? (outside of any abusers, obviously)

  • WebMonk

    Lisa, there’s a world of difference between “knowing” and “proving”. In the governmental arena, there must be proof, or at least a definite reason for suspicion, for action to take place.

    What would you have happen in these cases? Should CPS be able to take away the children of anyone who has an anonymous call made about them claiming abuse? Hopefully you would say “no” to that.

    But, that’s exactly what you seem to want to happen to the FLDS sect – anyone can make an anonymous call and CPS will immediately take the kids away from the parents without any proof of abuse.

    “We must obey God rather than men.”

    In what POSSIBLE way has there been any disobedience of what God says by following the laws of men in this case?!? Has someone who knew about abuse not coming forward? Is someone hiding evidence of abuse? (outside of any abusers, obviously)

  • Jenn W

    While the safety of the children is certainly paramount, I’m thankful that the judge ruled that these kids go back to their parents. The CPS (or the government or someone) has a list of what makes a child “at risk” it is how they get to kids through the public school system (and now through doctors). One of the items on that list is “Strong Religious Beliefs.” Well, that puts my three kids at risk. We not only worship every Sunday but we read the Bible at home, teach creation, memorize scripture, memorize creeds, and listen to Christ centered radio programs. By returning the FLDS kids to their families a precedent has been set which in the long run can protect my kids too.

    I’m NOT saying that I think those kids are safe where they are, I live very close to the towns on the AZ/UT border where Jeffs used to live before he moved his group to TX (it’s the same group and those still in AZ/UT are also polygamists). I’ve been in this town multiple times and met multiple members of the group. While very nice they are certainly trained to not trust outsiders and they are trained (not unlike my children who are trained to believe in Christ Crucified for the forgiveness of sins) to have a strong faith – just the wrong one and a harmful one at that. However, when the boys are pushed out or the girls escape and move to St George area they struggle. Most of them get caught up in drugs and most of them never really get free. Ripping them from their families doesn’t do them any real favors unless they are taken in by families and on such a grand scale the government can’t manage that.

    One of the easiest things to forget when we see the awful things that happen to these kids (and the grown women too) in the FLDS is that regardless of what evil is taught to them and trained into them they are still in a family. I’ve yet to meet a kid who wasn’t loved by their mother, some of the ones I’ve met were even obviously loved by their father (the way my kids are not in some sick way). When they get out they miss their family, their siblings and usually their mother. They can’t go back. Imagine being ripped from everything you’d ever known and cut off completely from those you’ve loved all your life. It isn’t the most effective way to teach the Truth to them. I don’t know what is, well, probably one on one interaction over time (which is difficult and rare). But if any of them are going to come to know Christ and Him crucified, it will be through the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, not through our sin filled efforts and meager attempts at helping.
    In the meantime, I’m thankful that, for now, the government isn’t involved in my kid’s lives just because we confess the Nicene Creed!
    In Christ
    Jenn in Vegas

  • Jenn W

    While the safety of the children is certainly paramount, I’m thankful that the judge ruled that these kids go back to their parents. The CPS (or the government or someone) has a list of what makes a child “at risk” it is how they get to kids through the public school system (and now through doctors). One of the items on that list is “Strong Religious Beliefs.” Well, that puts my three kids at risk. We not only worship every Sunday but we read the Bible at home, teach creation, memorize scripture, memorize creeds, and listen to Christ centered radio programs. By returning the FLDS kids to their families a precedent has been set which in the long run can protect my kids too.

    I’m NOT saying that I think those kids are safe where they are, I live very close to the towns on the AZ/UT border where Jeffs used to live before he moved his group to TX (it’s the same group and those still in AZ/UT are also polygamists). I’ve been in this town multiple times and met multiple members of the group. While very nice they are certainly trained to not trust outsiders and they are trained (not unlike my children who are trained to believe in Christ Crucified for the forgiveness of sins) to have a strong faith – just the wrong one and a harmful one at that. However, when the boys are pushed out or the girls escape and move to St George area they struggle. Most of them get caught up in drugs and most of them never really get free. Ripping them from their families doesn’t do them any real favors unless they are taken in by families and on such a grand scale the government can’t manage that.

    One of the easiest things to forget when we see the awful things that happen to these kids (and the grown women too) in the FLDS is that regardless of what evil is taught to them and trained into them they are still in a family. I’ve yet to meet a kid who wasn’t loved by their mother, some of the ones I’ve met were even obviously loved by their father (the way my kids are not in some sick way). When they get out they miss their family, their siblings and usually their mother. They can’t go back. Imagine being ripped from everything you’d ever known and cut off completely from those you’ve loved all your life. It isn’t the most effective way to teach the Truth to them. I don’t know what is, well, probably one on one interaction over time (which is difficult and rare). But if any of them are going to come to know Christ and Him crucified, it will be through the grace of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, not through our sin filled efforts and meager attempts at helping.
    In the meantime, I’m thankful that, for now, the government isn’t involved in my kid’s lives just because we confess the Nicene Creed!
    In Christ
    Jenn in Vegas


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