Why I am no longer a Christian

This blog post is angry, shouty, incoherent and out of order. It is going to upset a lot of people. If you are one of them, I’m sorry. If you can’t handle my personal rant without hating me, please don’t read this.

I’m through with religion.ย There, I’ve said it. With one sentence I have alienated half the people that I know. I hope they can look past it. I am not looking to break my friendship with anyone.

How we live our lives

Religion promises a life after death. A better life. So why is it that so many believers seem to take that as a reason to make the current life into hell on earth? Religions have done good things, of course. They are responsible for running charities that bring help and comfort throughout the world. There are some awesome Christian charities fighting for social justice, helping the most desperate people to build a better life. But this isn’t all good. The same charities, the same people, have opinions on other things. They tell people that condoms are evil; those people don’t seem to realise that sleeping with 20 women without a condom and spreading HIV to them all is even more evil. Depriving people of medical procedures they need because you disagree with them is evil.

Medicine and healing

Religion causes people to put off medical treatment because they know that prayer will fix things. Worse, religion causes people to deprive their children of medical treatment. We have science and medicine which we know work, how on earth can anyone justify shunning that for just prayer? The recent example of staff at a hospital being punished by the church for performing an abortion to save a mothers life infuriated me. Apparently the correct decision was to let both mother and baby die, or to sidestep the rules by finding a less effective alternative treatment that might abort the baby as a side effect. That’s just splitting hairs to save face and defend a stupid decision by the church.

I am also frustrated with christians judging others by whether they are healed or not. I was at a christian conference a while ago and they dedicated one session to praying for healing. It did not take very long before I walked out of there. Being told that if I have faith I would be healed makes me want to scream at people. I had faith. The people praying for me had faith. I have not been healed, even after many prayer sessions. I have only to look at the illnesses both of my parents suffer to see that it is not so simple as have faith = cured but people say it at every healing service and prayer session. When I have objected with this logic, I have been told that perhaps god has plans for using my sickness. I hate that even more. At the same conference where I walked out of a healing session, the story of St Therese was told. Apparently she could not leave her bed, and could not eat anything except communion wafers. She would spend her time praying until god told her the name of a sinner, and then she would ‘suffer for them’ until they repented. What kind of a sick sadistic logic is that? I completely reject it.

Relationship with god

As a christian I had believed that in heaven we would praise god forever. To be honest, I have never understood it. I have enjoyed praising god here on earth. When I have been at church, worshipping god, singing, or playing guitar with the band, I have been caught up in the moment, experienced the joy, the euphoria of worship. And yet I can’t see doing that constantly for all time as a desireable thing. I always assumed that it would make sense when I got there.

Why do we need to worship god anyway? Is he an egomaniac? If I created an Artificial Intelligence (unlikely, even if I did study it at degree level.) would I program it to worship me? I don’t think so. If it were truly intelligent, that would be abuse as far as I can tell. Slavery. Perhaps the created should feel some need to worship the creator, to honour him, but why should that be built in as a necessary response? If god does want us to worship him, he has been pretty crap about telling us. Yes, I know we are told that he visited us 2000 years ago and that we must have faith. I know the story of doubting Thomas. I know the famous verse “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Bullshit. You’re god. You have a physical manifestation. Get down here and show us you exist! Cut all the mystical crap. You want the people to know you and love you, how about you talk to us all? We’re not supposed to believe in other things without evidence, why should you set such a bad example?

Of course Christians are going to claim that I have obviously never experienced a proper relationship with god, otherwise I could not say these things. Well if I haven’t, it’s not down to doing the wrong things or lack of opportunity. I repented of my sins. I was truly sorry. I prayed. I knew that I wouldn’t hear an actual voice, in my head or outside it, but that god would speak to me through reading the bible, through mysterious promptings to do something, to say something. He would speak to me through other people. And I believed all of this, I really did. I acted on what people said to me and on what I read. I prophesied. I told people what I thought god was trying to tell them. So why is it that every prayer time was an effort and I always wanted to do something else?

I have been told that I must believe in god because I have been so blessed. Well I don’t see it that way any more. Yes, I have had some amazingly good things happen to me. Houses, jobs, money and so on coming through at just the right time, or through amazing generousity of others. But I have had so much shit as well. I have ME. I have diabetes. I suffer from chronic, frequent migraines. I had anal fissure, abscess and fistula. That’s just the physical side of things. I’ve also had a terrible time getting work. I’ve had plenty of plans not work out. I’ve been bankrupt because of illness. I don’t believe any more that those were just because what I was doing was not gods plan. It’s called bad luck, and it definitely outweighs the good luck in my life.

The Catholic Church

Then there is the Catholic church. Don’t get me started. I tried to defend them for years. At first I was defending Catholics from accusations by protestants. At university I defended against all the usual stuff, that Catholics worship Mary, that Catholics don’t hold the bible as the ultimate authority, etc etc. In the end I left the Catholic church because of a mixture of their attitude to other christians and also of many of the things that non-christians accuse them of. But then so many other things came out. Condoms and Aids. Sexual abuse. Supposedly these are the same old accusations. Perhaps that’s beacause, just consider this for a moment, PERHAPS THEY’RE TRUE. I know they’re not the only ones that have done some of this stuff, but they’re particularly good at covering things up and avoiding prosecution and punishment. How is that right?

Condemnation of homosexuals

I can’t stand the attitude of most christians towards homosexuals. The bible condemns sex outside of marriage as much as homosexuals. Probably more. Yet most christians think homosexuality is the worst sin imaginable. Pastors that have been married three times stand at the front of their church and shout that all gay people are evil. Christians vote to deprive gay people of legal protection for them and their partners. They deprive them of marriage, or even civil partnerships. They seem to think that being gay is a choice, that gay people are somehow trying to recruit people to be gay. Their hatred blinds them to any rational reasoning on this. This seems to be changing, christians my age and younger seem far less bothered by a persons sexuality, but that might just be the people that I know. It was african christians that convinced the UN to change the law and stop condemming the killing of homosexuals. I have no words to express how angry that makes me.

This is an example typical of the christian response that I can’t stand. Speaking about the web site reselling that is part of his business, this person said “if someone wants a gay website, we just can’t do it.” [Meaning reselling to anyone] WTF? A GAY website? What’s a gay website? What about my friends blog? Is that a ‘gay website?’ He’s gay, he writes about his life, so it fits doesn’t it?

I have had enough. I don’t want religion to damage so many people. I won’t be a different person without religion, I will still feel compassion for people, help whoever I can, fight against social injustice. I’m sorry to my friends who are still believers. Perhaps one day you will show me that I am wrong. I remain open to that possibility. I am not an atheist. I’m going to settle for agnostic.

Before any christians jump in assuming that I don’t know my stuff, be aware that I grew up in a christian community, (30 christians living together) I have been a christian for more than 25 years, and I ย used to lead worship and play guitar at my christian union, various churches and prisons.

And so, in the words of Stephen Fry: Religion. Shit it.

Happy Christmas.

Related article: On scepticism and god

Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

26 thoughts on “Why I am no longer a Christian”

  1. Wow. Encompasses what I’ve thought for a long while in a few short paragraphs. Well done.
    My favourite quote from ‘Kingdom Of Heaven” :

    “I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of ‘God’. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is here [points to head] and here [points to heart] and what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man – or not.”

  2. This post doesn’t help anybody Steve.
    Your points are no different to any argument atheists and agnostics who have only an academic understanding of religion/faith.

    I’m sorry you are ill, and to have such a debilitating illness with no obvious external symptoms I’m sure has been the source of constant frustration alone. You know how I feel about people who blame illness on sin or lack of faith, it is an incomplete teaching and should be corrected.
    I am a protestant, but even I know that the book of Sirach (found in the Catholic Bible) says in chapter 38 “Honour your physicians…” which clearly goes against the ‘wait and see’ approach so many people have today. Instead of getting fed up and walking away, perhaps it would have been good to confront the people at the conference with your knowledge of scripture rather then letting poor teaching go unanswered?

    The problem is that when people become Christians they think the work stops there, but it doesn’t. Like the quote in the Kingdom of Heaven film, (and more importantly the Bible) it is an everyday decision and life long commitment to learning how to have a personal relationship with God.

    I’m sorry to say growing up in HOD surrounded by Christians or playing in church actually counts for nothing if your heart is not for God. I have worked for years in Non-Christian companies, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped being a Christian or know everything about non-Christian life.

    You are angry with people, and you are angry with God. I hope you can work through it somehow without too much damage to your friendships and relationships.

    I hope to talk to you before long, hopefully by then you will be a little less angry and open to a chat with a friend. I think part of this is the accumulation of focusing solely on the negative, what with the recent protests, the Westboro church rubbish and the Hospital in Arizona.

    Your friend,
    – Lod

    1. Well this post helped me, what I have said here has been brewing for a long time and I needed to say it. When I have mentioned problems to other Christians they have asked what, so I said it.I’m afraid you have said the things that I thought would be said, or to paraphrase a friend of mine, Insert standard christian response here. If most of my life as a Christian doesn’t qualify me to make a decision about my faith, then nothing does.I am angry, it’s true. Who wouldn’t be when rejecting something that has affected their whole life?I’m afraid it’s going to be a while before I’m prepared to consider this again, but I will listen to what you say.

      1. Steve,

        I guess I’m disheartened that’s all. Disheartened that I saw this coming and didn’t say enough, although I accept that there would not have been much I could have said to prevent what is ultimately your decision.

        Also, disheartened that, what is an incredibly personal decision, was made so public on Christmas day with an anger fuelled disregard for anyone else’s feelings besides your own.

        I am supposed to be, (perhaps this term is too generous) your ‘business partner’, and on top of that, we do in fact have the same Christian Community in common and yet this post (rather than your mood of late) came with no warning on one of the most Holy days of the year for me.

        I mean no offence but, you were unfathomably naive to think it would not affect us. How could you reason (knowing me as you do) that I would I not check my social bookmarks during this time?

        Now, I am not urging you to reconsider your decision, that’s your choice. I’m just having a problem with the realisation that our friendship/partnership was not sufficient enough to warrant a second thought before posting.

        Also you need to accept the fact that quoting Stephen Fry saying “Religion, shit it”, is and act adding ‘fuel for the fire’ for atheists in an ever increasing atheist country like England. I also have to accept the fact that although intellectually you have said you are not looking to break your friendship with anyone, that by using words like ‘shit it’ you are basically promoting shitting on people like me who aren’t bogged down by religion but have an active faith and follow a God you loathe.

        So, you tell me, where do we go from here?

        1. I have to disagree Loddy – had he written as passionate a post stating reasons for praising God I’m sure you’d be happy.
          However, for the very legitimate and well thought out reasons he states above, Steve has expressed his current feelings about religion.
          It happens that by coincidence I agree with his views in this post and have done for many years of my life but had he chosen to express a view I didn’t share I would still be more than happy for him to do so on a public blog. After all, anyone can choose whether to read it or not.
          This is a time when religion is probably more in people’s minds than at any other time of the year. Why should that only be considered acceptable if people choose to support it blindly rather than questioning parts of it they disagree with morally?

        2. Lloyd, I really am sorry for the timing. I wrote the whole thing on the train where I had time to think, got thoroughly worked up about it and didn’t think through the consequences for other people. I certainly did not intend any of this as a personal attack on anyone, nor is it my intention to hurt anyone or remove anyone else’s faith. One thing I am hugely angry about is the harm that I see done to other people in the name of God. My closing comment was aimed largely at that. As for adding fuel to the fire for atheists, well, I think Christians are doing a grand job of that all by themselves. How do you think I got to my conclusions?

          I’m afraid I can’t apologise for the way I think at the moment, but like I said to Phill, I have been angry, I need to step away and re-examine the whole bundle of faith and Christian behaviour.

          1. As you investigate these points one by one, while I was talking to my wife about the recent abortion issues in America and the now ex-Catholic hospital, I hazarded a guess about Doctors which turned out to be correct in a sense…

            It might interest you to know that abortion is in direct contradiction with the original non-Christian Hippocratic Oath of doctors which was sworn before Apollo, the healer, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea.

            The modern oath makes no mention of abortion but states “Above all, I must not play at God” however, we now live in a world where most medical schools do not require any such oath to be made.

            Is that a better world Steve?

          2. “Is that a better world Steve?”
            Do you know how antagonistic that comes across as?

            I never at any point said I supported abortion for all and without reason. I said that it was absurd to let both mother and baby die when the mother could be saved.

          3. I agree with Steve on this one. Your argument seems to be summed up by ‘If you don’t follow us letter by letter your immoral and evil”. Being agnotic does not mean doing the exact opposite of any faith, it means finding your own path that is fair for all

          4. In a word, yes.
            Religion is a personal belief system and it simply cannot be assumed any two people share the same beliefs.
            Nor should anyone have those beliefs (or any morality founded upon them) forced upon them.
            That means religion has no rightful place in law, politics, health care or indeed any section of society that people access through necessity rather than by choice.
            In this case “I must not play at God” makes a presumption that a God exists and defines a very vague line which should not be crossed, without bothering to give a good reason why.
            Some people may interpret this as a reason to not allow abortions, others as not allowing stem cell research, genetic modification, cloning, lab-grown organs for transplants and many other areas that have the potential in the long run to benefit human health.
            “Don’t play at God” is a terrible oath and I’m very glad it’s no longer in use. “cause as little suffering as possible” would be my preferred alternative.

  3. Heya Steve,

    I was linked to one of your blogs on the student protests and then followed you on twitter. I’m really sorry to hear that you’re now worried you’ve upset your family due to this blog. I don’t know why, but that just makes me really sad and sorry. I’m agnostic too but I don’t really want to comment on what you’ve written, because I know nothing about religion. I guess I just wanted to say that you sound like a really interesting person and I hope you do have a nice christmas and that you’re family love and respect you even if you disagree about Christianity ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hi Steve,
    This is James, haven’t spoken to you in about 14 years but I’ve been following your blog recently and have been really enjoying reading it.
    I’ve been an atheist since I left school – at times a preachy one, but these days simply someone without beliefs (incidentally that’s all the word ‘atheist’ means to me – an absence of belief rather than a certainty of anything) . It was easy for me to drift away from religion as only my mother was religious, and she stopped going to church after she divorced my dad because they were so judgemental about it. So there was no pressure on me to be religious and I just drifted away from it.
    I remember a pivotal moment for me was when our deputy head told us that any time we said “oh my God” we should say “I’m sorry Jesus” – it just seemed so silly, what kind of all-powerful being cares about that? There were a few teachers there who liked to evangelise actually – I’m thinking of the one who locked us in the hut and gave us a fire and brimstone lecture on abortion and the woman who’d had an out of body experience and was always too keen to talk about it. They were enough to put anyone off the church. So I was a little surprised that you were still a Christian when I checked what you were up to – it’s easy to assume that other people will take the same path as you. The difference, I suppose, is your family and friends – and that’s why this blog post seems so brave. I can’t imagine having to say such a significant thing to my loved ones and I hope if I ever need to do something similar I can do the same.

    1. Hi James. Thanks for your comment. You’re right that it is worry for my family and friends that have been an issue for me here. Fortunately after a long phone call my parents are now talking to me; I hope others follow that lead.

      I’ve been checking your blog occasionally over the last few years too! I feel really stupid for never getting around to saying hello.

  5. Hey Steve, sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your post! – over the Christmas period we’ve been busy at my parents, I haven’t had a chance!

    Anyway. I just wanted to say – a lot of the content of your post focusses on what Christians actually do rather than what Jesus actually did, or what the Bible actually says. So to take your sections:

    How we live our lives – regarding your specific example, of condoms, well I think that is specifically a Roman Catholic thing. I don’t know of any other Christian churches preaching against the usage of condoms. I agree with you here that they are wrong to say that, and I think most of the Christians I know would agree.

    Medicine and Healing – well this is a difficult area because we don’t know all the answers, of course not. I don’t know why you are ill, and I don’t know why God hasn’t healed you. But there is one thing which has kind of helped me thinking about it (although God knows I haven’t had to go through a tenth of what you’ve had to): if there is no life after death, then all the suffering and pain on this earth is ultimately meaningless. There is no other option. I think most atheists say at this point that you have to find meaning for yourself without invoking a deity. Well that much is true. But for those people who somehow can’t find meaning for themselves in this life – their lives are basically one big cosmic joke without God.

    I think bad things do happen in this life, e.g. a few years ago my aunt died of cancer. Do I think God “wanted” that to happen? No, of course not. But I do think our attitude to these things can be shaped by faith and it is that attitude which being Christian is about. Obviously you have to work this through with God on your own terms, I can’t do that for you. Sorry if that sounds a bit of a cop out but I’m willing to talk more about it ๐Ÿ™‚

    Relationship with God – I don’t think God is some kind of egomaniac who demands worship from us to satisfy his own craving. I think the universe worships God because he is the only thing in it (or outside it, if you’re going to be picky) worthy of worship. In a sense, it’s kind of a fundamental law of the universe.

    In terms of a physical manifestation, well – I think God has made it plain to people. It’s oft-repeated but there’s more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for any other figure from the ancient world. look at William Lane Craig’s stuff for the historical aspect of the resurrection, his arguments are pretty powerful.

    Of course I’m not going to claim that you never had a proper relationship with God! But I’ll come back to that in a minute.

    The Catholic Church – well, I wouldn’t tar everyone with the same brush. I’m no fan of the Catholic Church at all, but I think there are many in the lower echelons of the church particularly who just wanted to serve God and do good things. Jesus did say “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven”. I think that certainly applies to the people who abuse their power and cover up crimes etc – I’m sure that’s an abomination to God and those people will be dealt with appropriately. But I won’t go in about this much, because I’m not a Roman Catholic.

    Condemnation of homosexuals – again, you can’t tar everyone with the same brush. Unfortunately the majority of what we hear comes from a very vocal minority who want to eradicate being gay, which is ridiculous.

    sorry this has been such a long post, I guess you probably think this is a ‘standard Christian response’ – which it is! But I think just because it’s a standard Christian response doesn’t mean there’s no value in it.

    I think you’re going through a really tough time at the moment (probably understatement of the year). All I ask is that you try to be fair and objective when you look at these things, and don’t ignore your previous good experiences of Christianity.

    You know where I am if you need to chat through anything ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope and pray that you find your way through these issues and at least end up somewhere where you are happier.

    1. Thanks for responding, Phil.

      I will admit I am angry at the moment, but then that’s obvious anyway. Although I have been building up to this for a number of months I do need to step back and think about it all. It’s almost easier to do that from the perspective of rejecting it all and starting again.

      I intend to revisit all of my objections and go through them in detail, taking arguments from people and maybe even blogging about each one. Perhaps at the end of that I will reach a different conclusion.

  6. Clearly a choice to believe or stop believing is a very personal one and I respect that, but as a general comment I’d say that perhaps people need to find God for themselves and stop looking for the God of worship in the churches. The problems of institutionalised religion like homophobia, slavery, abortion etc don’t negate God’s existence, because I can see that’s the evil of people not the God I know. Science doesn’t negate God either for me but is an affirmation of one of the many ways I understand God to be. When I turned from mainstream worship actually it was agnosticism & going to church t please the folks, my parents were up in arms but I went through the fire and am a better person for it. I’m glad to know the Most High in the way I do. Best of Luck to you with your family, I hope they don’t persecute and remember that Love is the ultimate Law of Life.

  7. Hi Steve,

    I’m sorry, I promised I would respond and I really should have done before now, no excuses. In some respects I can be a rubbish friend. Which actually is one of my points because you don’t ever have to worry about losing my friendship. My first reaction to reading your post was to wish I could give you a hug, because you are/were obviously hurting and I’m your friend. So I did the next best thing, I sent you a hug in a text.

    I’ve been thinking about this every day ever since then. Part of the reason for the delay was because I wanted to think about it, to figure out what I wanted to say and to take my time over it (because you deserve to have the time taken over). At this point I still only have a vague idea of what I’m going to say, so here goes…

    I agree with the majority of what you’ve said. I think I’ve already told you that. I am not a fan of “religion”. I’ve never really liked being called “religious”. I disagree on many points with the Catholic Church. I disagree on some points with the Anglican Church. I am a Christian. I have a faith. I have a personal relationship with God. This does not make me “religious”. “Religious” people can irritate me, because a lot of the time they miss the point. Which is ironically funny as they’re no different than the Pharisees. 2000 years on and some things haven’t changed. While the Pharisees prayed that they were thankful not to be gentiles, women, unclean, tax collectors, etc, too many today simply replace it with gay, left wing, condom using, abortionists, etc. I wish they would stop seeing the “legal” aspect, the rules etc and start seeing the people and God’s grace instead. If Jesus came back today as he did 2000 years ago I have an idea where he would be found, and it probably wouldn’t be in the Church much.

    I agree with you on condoms. I don’t believe in abortion but I also believe it is far from being a black and white issue, and we have no right to judge other people (Actually we don’t have the right to judge at all, only God has the right to judge, our job is to love people – pity that this often gets overlooked, both by some Christians and by the press. The press love to report the bad things, they don’t report the good things that Christians do.)

    Regarding your experiences with healing, prayer, faith and certain Christians I am not surprised, but that doesn’t stop me from being both angry and incredibly sad. Because they are wrong. What they told you is wrong. Neither God nor prayer nor faith work like a vending machine; insert request, receive miracle. I have seen answers to prayer, I have seen healings, and I have seen it not happen. More often than not it doesn’t happen. My church prayed for a girl a few years older than me that she may be healed of cancer, she died before her 21st birthday. I could go on. The gospels mention a few dozen of the people who Jesus healed, well what about the rest, all the other people who didn’t get healed when Jesus was around? We don’t talk about them. Some people get healed, some people don’t. Only God knows why. Jesus said to someone, ‘your faith has made you well’. Completely right. But that’s not to say that the opposite is also true, that someone remains unwell because they don’t have enough faith, and anyone who thinks so, in my opinion at least, is barking completely up the wrong tree (or just completely barking!). I’m sorry Steve, because I can only begin to imagine what sort of needless additional pain those people have caused you. I’m sorry for the impression they give of both God and Christians. And I’m sorry that we’re both going to hear the same things over and over again in the future.

    Don’t get me started on the topic of homosexuality. This isn’t the time or place.

    As for the rest, I wouldn’t dream of commenting upon your relationship with God. That’s between you and God, only the two of you know about that. What I will say though is that the majority of your rant is about the Church and “religion”, the flawed people who bear Christ’s name. The church is f*cked up because it’s made up of people and as people we are f*cked up (and yes, I use the ‘f’ word on purpose). We get things wrong. The Church gets a number of things wrong on a large scale. But the Church isn’t God. I believe that there are times when God looks at the Church and cries for all the mistakes, errors, misjudgments, pain, despair, hate, and so on it has done, inflicted or caused. I wouldn’t be surprised if God was crying over this as well.

    You’re also angry at God as well. Understandable. I’ve been angry at God in the past. I’ve been furious at him. I’ve hated him… really hated him. And I had far, far less reason to do so than you. So be angry at him. I honestly don’t think he will mind. And he’s big enough to take it. And you know what, he’ll still be there if and/or when you’ve stopped being angry. And if the established Church disappears tomorrow, God will still be there.

    As for what heaven might be like? Do I think we will spend eternity singing Graham Kendrick worship songs? I seriously hope not and I doubt it. (No offence to Graham). I believe it will be the fulfillment of our relationship with God, how it was supposed to be in the first place. There will be some expression of emotion just as there is in our daily lives now. (Sarah bought milk and bread today and I thanked her for it. A couple of days ago I told her I loved her, I will no doubt repeat that sentiment in the near future – no we are not a couple and it’s not that sort of romantic love. Today I gave Phil B a cup of tea and a hug and so on). We tell the people that we love that we love them. We don’t – or at least we shouldn’t – do it because we have to but because we want to. And our loved ones don’t force us to do things that we don’t want to do. So will heaven be all singing all the time? I seriously doubt it.

    And I’m going to leave it here because this is far too long as it is and already taken me about 2 hours to do. Steve, love you as a friend and have another virtual hug.

    (Incidentally, just stuck my head out the door to tell Sarah that I love her and she asked me what I had done. lol. Typical!)

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