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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
July 14, 2019
One Blood, One Race – Overcoming Prejudice
We had a wonderful Vacation Bible School this past week. My personal thank you to everyone that helped out both directly with the children and behind the scenes with preparation and supplies. Your service to the Lord is much appreciated. We will not know until heaven the full impact we were able to have on these children, but it was wonderful to see the children from many different ethnic and cultural backgrounds having a great time together – and the comradery of an equally diverse staff. Jesus said they would know we are Christians by our love for one another, and I believe that was exhibited this past week.
This morning I want to expand on the theme and lessons that were taught this week to the children because it is very relevant to the tensions and conflicts that are now straining our society. This is a subject about which I feel strongly about having lived through the racial tensions of the 1960’s & 70’s and being an eyewitness to a race riot at my High School in 1975. I have first hand experience with government efforts to reduce racial tension. Some efforts were successful. Most have utterly failed to the point that it is my own view that while many things have greatly improved, there are also many ways in which racial divides are worse now than they were then. I believe Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of people being judged by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin is more distant now than it was then since government regulations now require “racial” quotas.
Personally, I resent constantly being asked about my “race” since it has no relevance to being qualified for a job application, to get insurance, open any business account, or have a colonoscopy. I resent being marked down as “white” since only my two front porcelain teeth and the Scleara (white) of my eyes are white. I resent even more being called a racist simply because my skin is a lighter shade of brown than others.
I grew up in the “melting pot” of Los Angeles in schools, churches and a community that was diverse. I had friends from all sorts of backgrounds. To me, that is normal. Church socials had all sorts of ethnic foods which I learned to enjoy (except Kim chi – my apologies to my Korean friends who like it).
This church went through some growing pains in the 1990’s as it became more ethnically and culturally diverse and we lost people who wanted us to be monocultural. My son, Jonathan, is currently battling some very unbiblical ideas that have crept into some branches of the evangelical church. (Jonathan blogs at http://www.worldviewconversation.com/) From the current ideas being promoted about how to develop a multiethnic, multicultural church, this one should not exist. Why? Because we do not compromise our message, values or become condescending in order to cater to particular targeted ethnic groups or cultures. Frankly, I find some of the ideas now being promoted to churches to be bigoted and demeaning since it treats those of different backgrounds as less than intelligent adults.
The central desire here at GBC is to glorify God by making disciples of Jesus Christ. We have attracted people from very diverse backgrounds who share that same desire. They want to know and follow Christ, so they want to know and understand the revelation of God’s word. That transcends both ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Our goal is to develop Christian culture which requires all cultural practices to be either affirmed, negated or modified as they become subject to Biblical commands and principles. We are not hyphenated Christians. We are not Caucasian, African, Asian, Indian, Arabic, Hispanic, or anything else Christian. We are Christians who come from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The difference between being an American-Christian and being a Christian who is American is priority and allegiance going to Christ first. Our primary identity is to be a follower of Jesus Christ which then becomes the basis for harmonious fellowship with one another.
Our Vacation Bible School this year tackled the questions about both the origins and solutions to prejudice and the problems of racism and bigotry that arise from it. Let me explain those for you.
It is always important to know the origins of a problem in order to find a solution to it. It is better to cure a disease than just treat its symptoms. So lets quickly to back to Genesis, the book of beginnings.
CREATION: We begin with Genesis 1 which is a straight forward historical narrative summarizing God’s activity on each day of creation week.
Day 1 – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” He also created light and separated the light from darkness calling the light day and the darkness night. There was evening and morning, one day.
Day 2 – God made an expanse (firmament) between the waters below and the waters above calling that expanse heaven. There was evening and morning, a second day.
Day 3 – God gathered the waters below into one place so that dry land appeared. He then made vegetation, plants yielding seed and fruit trees each to bear after their kind. There was evening and morning, a third day.
Day 4 – God established lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night and to be signs for seasons, days and years. The greater light, the Sun, governed the day, and the lesser light, the moon, governed the night. He made the stars also. There was evening and morning, a fourth day. (Notice that plants were created before the Sun, moon and stars!)
Day 5 – God brought forth both the creatures of the sea and the birds of the air. Each was to reproduce after its kind and fill the earth. There was evening and morning, a fifth day.
Day 6 – God brought forth the land animals including creeping things with each to reproduce after their kind. Notice that means birds were created before dinosaurs. God then created man in His image, both male and female to have dominion over the earth. Genesis 2 gives the details of this. He pronounced it all “very good.” There was evening and morning, a sixth day.
Day 7 – God rested from His creative work.
(See: The Days of Creation)
To ignore or neglect God’s acts of creation and our own origin as His creatures made in His image allows for lies to arise and develop that humans are just animals which then removes our souls and accountability to our Creator. It also allows for the evolutionary ideas that have contributed so strongly to racism in the last 160 years. The actual title of Charles Darwin’s thesis first published in 1859 was “On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in The Struggle for Life.”
SIN: Next, we go to Genesis 3 for the origin of sin in humanity. In short, God gave Adam and Eve free reign over the garden of Eden with the one prohibition to not eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the middle of the garden. Eve was deceived by the Serpent who slandered God and His commands so that she took and ate the fruit of that tree because it was “good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise.” She then gave to Adam and he also ate which plunged all of mankind into sin, and every human since then has inherited a sin nature from his father tracing all the way back to Adam. Each of us confirms that sin nature by our own direct sin so that “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-18; Psalm 14:1-3).
God banished Adam & Eve from the Garden of Eden to keep them from the Tree of Life. All of creation was also affected so that they would live by the sweat of their faces and battle weeds in trying to grow food. Death entered the world and creatures began to attack and kill each other.
(See: Sin & Its Consequences)
DEATH: It was not long after Adam and Eve had their first children, Cain and Abel, that Cain murdered Abel out of jealousy. The cycle of sin had begun, and it would only get worse. Adam & Eve had other children, and Cain’s line also had children. The people of antediluvian world lived incredibly long lives by our standards, with those listed in the genealogy of Genesis 5 averaging 912 years, but each still died.
(See: The Spread of Sin)
THE FLOOD: By the tenth generation, it had become so bad that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God determined to destroy all mankind by a flood, but He granted grace to Noah, a righteous man in his generation, and had him build an ark in which he had his family of wife and three sons and their wives would be preserved along with two of every kind of terrestrial air breathing animal. Noah built the ark and God brought the animals. Noah was a preacher of righteousness, but none heeded his warnings except his family, so only those 8 people survived the flood.
Noah and his family got out of the ark over a year later, and they sacrificed to God in worship and thankfulness. God gave them the sign of the rainbow that he would not destroy the earth by flood again.
(See: God’s Judgment & Grace)
DISPERSION: Man should have learned to obey God’s command, but he did not. God specifically told Noah’s descendants to “be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” They multiplied, but only a couple of generations later, Nimrod, a descendent of Ham, founded a city in the plains of Shinar called Babel. Genesis 11:1 recounts, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.” They traveled east from the Mountains of Ararat where the Ark had landed to the plains of Shinar. Genesis 11:3-4 continues, 3 They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. 4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
This was contrary to God’s commands. The Lord came down to see the city and tower, then said, “”Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. 7 “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech” (Genesis 11:6-7) This caused them to stop building the tower and be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
The descendants of each of Noah’s sons spread out from Babylon (in modern Iraq). Some of Shem’s descendants stayed in the area of Babylon while others went south into the Arabian peninsula, east into the areas around the Persian gulf, and some to the west into what is now Turkey. Ham’s descendants spread to the east into parts of Persia and then south into western India while others spread throughout Africa, and Canaan went west to settle in the costal areas of the middle east. Here I must point out from Genesis 9:25-27 that it is Canaan, Ham’s son, and not Ham that is cursed by Noah to be a slave to his cousins. Those that have claimed the Bible justified enslavement of or segregation from dark skinned Africans because Ham was cursed by Noah are wrong. It is tragic what ignorant people have done in falsely using the Bible to justify their sin. The full measure of the curse on Canaan came when God instructed the Israelites to conquer them under Joshua.
Noah’s blessing on Japheth that God would enlarge him is seen in the spread of his descendants throughout most of the world. They went north into Russia, west into Europe, east into India, farther east into Asia and south into Indonesia and Australia, across the Bearing straight into North American, and then into South America and the Caribbean. (See: http://onehumanrace.com/)
(See: Man’s Continued Rebellion)
The Bible recognizes that there are different peoples, tribes, and nations that formed due to God confusing their languages and forcing them to spread throughout the earth, but all people are of one blood. There is no Biblical justification for racism. When people want to know your ethnic heritage, ask them which family lines you are supposed to trace and how many generations back you are supposed to go? If you go back far enough, we all got off the boat on the Mountains of Ararat, and we are all descendants of Adam and Eve.
PREJUDICE: Prejudice, and the bigotry and racism that arises from that, has it origin in two factors. One is the new languages God created that forced them to scatter from Babel around the world. The small gene pools created by this allowed greater expression of recessive genes resulting in the great diversity in the appearance (morphology) of people around the world. This includes physical differences in height and body type; skin tones from light to very dark brown; in hair colors of black, brunet, blonde, and red; in hair types from fine to thick, straight to curly and present or absent in various balding patterns; in eye colors in shades of browns, blues, greens and hazel; in eye shapes from round to oval to slanted; hand and foot shapes; nose types; ear shapes and sizes, etc. Great physical diversity, yet genetically, these difference are only 0.012%.
The second factor is man’s sin nature which creates innate selfishness and pride. People naturally group themselves with others who are similar beginning with language and then appearance. Innate pride and selfishness usually also results in people thinking that those who are similar to themselves are better than those who are different. Similarities are strongest among those closely related which adds to the already strong factor of common familial history and experience creating strong loyalties among those that belong to that family, tribe and nation. That common history can also create strong hatred toward those whose ancestors may have been in conflict with your own resulting in generational conflict and rivalry such as the “Hatfields and McCoys,” or much worse, the many genocides throughout history.
Evolutionary thinking promoted by Darwin’s Origin of Species added fuel to this fire of sinful prejudice by advancing the idea of competing races. The Bible speaks of nations, tribes and tongues and the evils caused by prejudice and bigotry that exists between these groups, but the Bible does not talk about race, for that is an evolutionary idea, not a Biblical one.
Webster defines a race as, “a distinct group of people, the members of which share certain inherited physical characteristics (skin color, form of the hair, etc.) and transmit them.” A race then refers to a particular group of common genetic descent. At times it is used as a synonym for an ethic group, but a nation, tribe and even a family may or may not share certain inherited physical characteristics for they would also include those who have married into or been adopted by that group. The idea of a race is more clearly seen in its biological definition of being a “subdivision of a species.”
There is nothing inherently wrong with identifying a particular population group of a species as a race to distinguish it from other particular population groups of that species. That is a common and helpful nomenclature practice in biology, but when that idea is then tied into the philosophy of evolution, then a whole new dynamic is introduced. A race is no longer a simple term of identification, but now a term of competing populations to see which will be the superior line of evolutionary progress. The races that are most fit should survive while the inferior races are eliminated by competition.
Many evolutionists believed that human races evolved from ancestral types at different times so that some races are more “primitive” and therefore inferior. Evolutionary scientists even thought Australian aboriginal people were the “missing link” between humans and apes resulting in horrible atrocities against them. Similar ideas were common against Africans and the people of the South Pacific. For example, explorer Samuel Verner captured a 23 yr old African pygmy named Ota Benga and ended up displaying him as an exhibit in the anthropology wing of the 1904 Saint Luis World’s Fair. He later put him on display in the monkey house at the Bronx Zoo.
The evil of racism begins by grouping people into races according to some morphological feature such as skin color, hair type, facial features or such. The evolutionary component then places these races in competition with each other with an evolutionary biological demand that one race prove itself to be superior to all other races and out compete them for the survival of an improving species. Evolution gave man a positive reason for racism and all the evils that have come from it ranging from racial prejudice and oppression to racial slavery, eugenics and genocide, the effort to kill all those that display particular genetic features.
Multiculturalism – This has been a disaster for two major reasons. 1) Not all cultures are equal. 2) It has created the hyphenated American whose has a greater identification with cultures of ancestry than that of America itself. Are you a XXX-American or an American with XXX heritage? Without assimilation into a greater American identity and culture, our nation will continue to faction with increasing tensions between hyphenated people groups.
War – This is an evil method of racial harmony brought about by the destruction of the enemy or their forced assimilation by conquest. Annihilation only removes the possibility of ethnic disharmony with the group destroyed. If conquest does not result in complete assimilation, then it creates a breeding ground for revenge by the oppressed group once an opportunity arises.
Segregation – Physical separation between people groups helps keep conflicts to a minimum by reducing the interaction between them, but it does not produce harmony. It usually increases the animosity and resentment from not being allowed to go places or do things other people can. Christians are not to be segregated because all people are of one blood, not competing races.
Desegregation – this has been successful when it has been a change in laws allowing anyone to participate regardless of ethnic heritage. When it is forced upon people against the will of both groups involved, it only increases tensions and resentment.
Affirmative Action – This only changes who gets discriminated against creating new injustices. Ethnic background is given more importance than ability and qualification, and everyone is hurt when someone gets a position because of a quota instead of competency.
Man is naturally sinful, self-centered and proud, often even of things for which they should be ashamed. That is why prejudice, bigotry and racism runs every direction. We should not be surprised when unbelievers sin against others for that is their nature. Proverbs 14:12 –“There is a way [which seems] right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 12:15- “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes . . .” Romans 3:10-12 – “There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”
God’s solution is completely different from man’s, and He calls Christians to a completely different standard of living for several reasons. First, as already pointed out, the idea inherent in racism of competing genetic groups is opposite of the fact that all humans are descended from the same parents, Adam & Eve, and not multiple sub-human ancestors. Evolution is a fraudulent philosophical system supported by very poor science. The Bible exposes the lie of its worldview and good science shows it to be a hoax. Racism is a sin.
Second, God made man in His image and therefore all men have inherent worth regardless of what they look like. Those affected by disease, accidents or even genetic disorders have the same inherent worth before God as the most healthy and whole among us. Bigotry is a sin.
Third, the bondage to sin has been broken through Jesus Christ. Sin is no longer to be our master, for we are now to be slaves of righteousness (Romans 6). We are no longer bound to be sinful, self-centered or proud and treat others with disdain and hatred. Jesus has redeemed us so that we will be a “people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). Actions and attitudes of hatred toward others is sin.
Fourth, our self identity is no longer to be about self, but about the Lord Jesus Christ. Our world is no longer to center on our personal kingdom and desires. Our identity is to be bound up in Jesus Christ so that we can say with Paul in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the [life] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” Like those in Antioch, we are to be so identified with Christ by our actions and attitudes that our enemies will call us “Christ ones” or “little Christs” – Christians (Acts 11:25). Ethnocentric pride is sin.
Fifth, as Christians, we are called to a different view of other people which requires us to be humble and other centered. Paul commanded in Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not [merely] look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.“ Selfishness is sin.
Racism, bigotry, hatred, pride and selfishness are all sin and opposite of the way a Christian is to behave or think. That does not mean that when someone becomes a Christian all their prejudices immediately depart for it will take some time to have your mind and responses retrained according to God’s word. However, it does mean that the Christian will become less like the world as they are transformed into the image of Christ as their minds are renewed (Romans 12:1-2).
It is more than tragic when Christians continue to think and behave like the world. It is sin and it brings shame upon the name of our Lord. When Christians identify themselves as anything other than first and foremost a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, they are following the ways of the world. Again, we are Christians from diverse backgrounds, but we are not to be hyphenated Christians. Christians who give primary identification by their ethnic group reveal their own prejudice, and because their priority is wrong, they will continue to foster prejudice and bigotry.
Sixth, the New Testament is very clear that the barriers between nations, tribes, class and gender are broken down in Christ. We are no longer strangers and aliens to each other, but are fellow citizens with the saints and of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19). Galatians 3:28 adds, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul said almost the same thing in Colossians 3:11, “there is no [distinction between] Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.”
The breakdown between Jew and Gentile is extremely important because that is what has allowed us who are Gentiles to have hope. Ephesians 2:11-22 explains that we had been separate from Christ, strangers to the covenants of promise and having no hope and without God in the world (vs. 12). All Gentiles are without legitimate reason for national pride. Only the Jews had a legitimate reason for national pride because of God’s choosing of them to bear His name as the recipients of His covenants. Yet, even that choosing was totally based on God’s mercy and grace and nothing in the Jews themselves (Deuteronomy 7:7-9), so that pride at being a Jew had to be tempered with the humility of being the recipient of God’s mercy and the responsibility to declare God to the nations (Exodus 19:5,6; Isaiah 43:21). The Gentiles, which is all the rest of us, were in desperate need for God’s mercy, and in Jesus Christ that mercy has been given. Jesus broke down the dividing wall between Jew & Gentile and reconciled them into one body through the cross (vs. 13-16).
It is illegitimate for Christians to be divided by their ethnic heritage. It is wrong for Christians to group themselves by the color of their skin or any other physical feature. The old Sunday School song is still true in that “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world,” and adults too. But the song is wrong in the line “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight” because we are all one blood and one color – shades and variations of brown.
Anyone can form a working society out of people from the same ethnic, cultural and language backgrounds. God is glorified when people of various ethnic backgrounds live, work and worship together in mutual harmony, respect and love because only He can do that. Even differences in language is a barrier that can be overcome. Such diversity in the church also reflects what it will be like in heaven for Jesus purchased with His blood men “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 7:9).
The local church should reflect its community and it will if it is equally welcoming to all people and keeps its focus on the gospel and helping people become conformed to Christ instead of the dominant culture. Even a church in a mono-cultural community should be welcoming without prejudice anyone who does come that has a different ethnic background. Even language barriers can be overcome with patience, love and understanding.
We are one blood. There is only one race – the human race. And in the church, we are one in Jesus Christ.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
See these links for more on the subject of racial harmony:
One Blood, One Race – Overcoming Prejudice – Selected Scriptures – July 14, 2019
While there are great improvements since the 1960’s, racial tensions are _________in some ways than then
We are required to declare our “________” for many, many things in which ethnic heritage has no relevance
Currently, there are ___________ ideas being promoted in evangelical churches in regard to race
Our goal is to Glorify God by Making Disciples of Jesus Christ – including conforming __________to Christ
Day 1 – God made the heavens and the _________and separated light (day) from darkness (night)
Day 2 – God made an expanse called “__________” between waters below and waters above
Day 3 – God gathered the waters allowing dry land to appear, and created __________life
Day 4 – God established the _____, moon and stars to govern the day & night and as signs for seasons, years
Day 5 – God made the _______creatures and the birds of the air
Day 6 – God made the land creatures and formed _________in His own image – it was all “very good”
Day 7 – God rested from His creative work
Ignoring or neglecting God as _______removes man’s accountability to God & allows for evolutionary ideas
SIN – Genesis 3. Eve was deceived by the serpent. Adam also ate the forbidden fruit & mankind fell into __
God banished Adam & Eve from the Garden – all of creation was _________and death entered the world
DEATH – Cain murders Abel our of jealousy. The average age of the patriarchs was 912 – but they all ____
THE FLOOD – Man’s wickedness increased to the point God destroyed man and the world by a _________
Noah & his family found grace in eyes of God, so they built the _____for themselves and animals to survive
DISPERSION – Genesis 11:3-4. Man disobeyed God by _________together to build a city & tower & name
Genesis 11:6-8 – God confused their ____________causing them to spread out over the earth as commanded
_______’s descendants stayed in the area, went to the Arabian peninsula, to the Persian gulf and into Turkey
Ham’s descendants went to Persia, western India, __________and Canaan, who is cursed, to the middle east
African’s are Hamites, not Canaanites, and therefore ________________
Japheth’s descendants went __________to Russia, west to Europe, East to Asia and to the Americas
The Bible recognizes that there are different peoples, tribes, and nations – all of ________ blood
PREJUDICE – arises from the combination of man’s __& the confusion of languages spreading people out
Small gene pools allow for the expression of recessive traits – the great morphological __________now seen
Sin, selfishness and pride result in the common idea that those ___________ to yourself must be better
Common familial history can create __________ bonds of loyalty as well as hatred of enemies
Darwin’s thesis advanced the idea of ___________races which fueled prejudice and bigotry between groups
Webster: Race – distinct group that share certain ________________ physical characteristics
Biology / evolution: Race = “subdivision of a species” / ____________ group competing for dominance
Evolutionists believed races evolved from ancestral types so that some races are “_______________”
Evolutionary racism has been used to justify exploitation, oppression and _____________
Multiculturalism : Fails – 1) Not all cultures are ________. 2) Hyphenated-American creates more conflict
War – annihilates the enemy or forces assimilation – which if not total, creates breeding ground of ________
Segregation – reduces conflict by physical separation, but breeds animosity and ________________
Desegregation – good if law changes allow it voluntarily, but cause resentment when ___________
Affirmative Action – Only changes _______ is discriminated against creating new injustices
1) All humans are descended from the __________parents – we are all one blood, one race – the human race
2) God made man in His image giving man ____________worth
3) The ________of sin has been broken by Jesus Christ – Christians are to be slaves of righteousness, not sin
4) Our identity is bound up in ___________, not self or ancestors (Galatians 2:20)
5) Christians are to be ___________servants of one another – Philippians 2:3-4
It will take time for a new Christian to mature, but all Christians are being conformed to the ______of Christ
6) The _______between nations, tribes, class & gender are broken in Christ – Eph. 2:19; Gal. 3:29; Col. 3:11
Ephesians 2:11-22 – Jesus broke the wall separating Jew & Gentile so __________can receive God’s grace
It is wrong for Christians to group themselves by ethnic heritage, skin shade or any other ___________factor
God is glorified in a multiethnic, multicultural church for only He can bring about such ___________
The local church will reflect its community if its focus is the gospel & conformity to _________, not culture
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “ethnic” or “culture” is mentioned. 2) Talk with your parents why prejudice is wrong and that all humans are of one blood – one race
THINK ABOUT IT! – How have you seen prejudiced expressed in your own life – by those around you? Review Genesis 1-11 – the origin of Creation, sin and death; the flood; the dispersion at Babel. What are the two main causes of prejudice? What is a race? How has Darwinism promoted racism? Why don’t man’s solutions to racism work? What is God’s solution and what is it based on? Why should there be harmony among Christians?
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