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Nate Phelps Speaks About His Family


Neon Genesis
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Nate Phelps, the son of Fred Phelps who deconverted from Christianity to atheism recently gave a speech at the American Atheists convention. The transcript of the entire speech is available online: http://atheistnexus.org/page/nate-phelps-2009-aa-speech It's absolutely sickening what his father did to them and I don't understand how Christians can claim that their god is loving or that the bible is the good news. Even if we accept a liberal modernized interpretation of scripture, I still can't help but wonder where God is in all this. If God exists and truly is loving and answers our prayers, why didn't he intervene to save the Phelps from their horrible father? Why didn't Jesus appear to Fred and tell him to fuck off? Why is it that so many people cause so much evil in Jesus' name? And how can other Christians who believe in hell damn people to an eternal torture in hell just for not believing in their god for which there is no evidence for? Don't people suffer enough in this life? Is it not enough to this bloodthirsty god what Nate and his family went through that he has to torture them more in the next life? How can Christians be so cruel and heartless? How can anyone read about horror stories like these and come away still thinking God is real and God is love?

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That was quite a read, and I thank you for posting it, Neon Genesis. What a sad story.

 

Nice to know at least one of the Phelps kids turned out all right. Then again, he mentioned there were two or three others who were not in the church either. I hope they are fine, too.

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I've never understood why men like that are allowed to survive. My mom's dad was a rat bastard who beat up my grandma. One day my uncle took an axe and came after him, and told him "If I ever see you again, I will kill you." My mom's dad left and never returned. They found him years later in a hospital dying and told him they just wanted to make sure he was dead. Cold treatment for a cold man. I've seen other fathers abuse their children, and have always been aghast. The last time I witnessed it, I was too young to do anything. There are some guys that get their kicks by scaring and intimidating kids. I think this is why the series "Dexter" has been so popular.

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There's so many similarities between Nate's homelife and my own. Sometimes I wonder if I am exaggerating but people's responses here tells me such behaviour on the part of parents is not okay. Thanks for posting it, Neon.

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?
They found him years later in a hospital dying and told him they just wanted to make sure he was dead.

 

 

:lmao:

 

Ok, I am laughing really really hard.

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There's so many similarities between Nate's homelife and my own. Sometimes I wonder if I am exaggerating but people's responses here tells me such behaviour on the part of parents is not okay.
I was also reminded of my own family when reading about Nate's. My dad was nowhere near as bad as his, but my dad would often hit my mother around whenever she didn't do everything he wanted correctly when he wanted it done and he would always threaten to beat her and call her derogatory names. My mother told me that she was abused by him on her wedding night and that if she could do it again, she wouldn't have married him. I think the only reason why my parents are till together after all this time is because my parents' church forbids divorce in all cases expect adultery. Even if you're in an abusive relationship, unless your spouse is having an affair, you aren't allowed to divorce. Even if you get a divorce, you aren't allowed to remarry and have to stay alone the rest of your life because if you get remarried after having a divorce, they consider you to be having an affair. They base this teaching on a literal interpretation of Matthew 19:8
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,[d] and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
I used to pray to God to intervene and save my mother somehow, but no matter how much I prayed, the prayer never came. This was also a part of why I ended up deconverting. Sometimes I wonder if I had a different family, if I would still be a Christian today. It's random though that reading the works of the New Atheists also helped me in my deconversion. I was already an ex-c by the time I read their works, but reading Dawkins and Hitchens helped me to embrace atheism.
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For the record I don't think it's fair to blame religion or specifically xianity for Phelps. He obviously has psychological problems, not the least of which he is an attention whore. To blame xianity is to blame a strawman and makes us look like we are overreaching. Xianity has its own problems that are minion but it does not tend to lead to Phelps-like behavior. If it did, there would be more than just one small church of 60 family members acting out this way.

 

What is puzzling to me is that more of these guys don't break away. They must have done a severe brainwashing job on them when they were young to get them to all follow Fred in his psychotic delusions.

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I'm so glad to see that at least some of Phelp's family members are escaping. Hopefully this will make it easier for others to leave. They can't all really be that hateful. (I hope.)

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I still remember the Tyra episode wherein she had a couple of Fred's granddaughters on. Don't much care for the show normally, but to her credit she was able to expose some small cracks in the facade when she got them to talk about hobbies and activities they enjoy doing - for a split second they looked like nothing more than pretty, happy young women.

 

'Course, that only made it all the more depressing when she called attention to that and the masks immediately came back on.

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Amazing story. Really goes to show what a pathetic man Fred Phelps is.

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For the record I don't think it's fair to blame religion or specifically xianity for Phelps. He obviously has psychological problems, not the least of which he is an attention whore. To blame xianity is to blame a strawman and makes us look like we are overreaching. Xianity has its own problems that are minion but it does not tend to lead to Phelps-like behavior. If it did, there would be more than just one small church of 60 family members acting out this way.

 

What is puzzling to me is that more of these guys don't break away. They must have done a severe brainwashing job on them when they were young to get them to all follow Fred in his psychotic delusions.

 

I would agree with that. Fred Phelps is an incredibly angry person, and many of his children and grandchildren seem to be perpetuating the angry abusive cycle that he begun. Phelps is just so far out there, it wouldn't matter if he was Muslim, Christian, or atheist, he would still be an incredibly abusive and volatile human being. I'm glad Nate got out, as did several others.

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?
For the record I don't think it's fair to blame religion or specifically xianity for Phelps. He obviously has psychological problems, not the least of which he is an attention whore. To blame xianity is to blame a strawman and makes us look like we are overreaching. Xianity has its own problems that are minion but it does not tend to lead to Phelps-like behavior. If it did, there would be more than just one small church of 60 family members acting out this way.

 

What is puzzling to me is that more of these guys don't break away. They must have done a severe brainwashing job on them when they were young to get them to all follow Fred in his psychotic delusions.

 

I would agree with that. Fred Phelps is an incredibly angry person, and many of his children and grandchildren seem to be perpetuating the angry abusive cycle that he begun. Phelps is just so far out there, it wouldn't matter if he was Muslim, Christian, or atheist, he would still be an incredibly abusive and volatile human being. I'm glad Nate got out, as did several others.

 

 

I actually disagree with this, I think it very much so matters that Fred Phelps is a Christian of the sort he is.

 

Psychological problems do not exist in a vacuum, and the particular type of underlying worldview one has will shape actions and emotions and thoughts. And all those actions, emotions, and thoughts can bring about serious psychological problems.

 

Had Mr. Phelps been raised in some liberal Quaker household I doubt he would have done the things he has in any format and I doubt he would have the psychological problems he is having now.

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There's so many similarities between Nate's homelife and my own. Sometimes I wonder if I am exaggerating but people's responses here tells me such behaviour on the part of parents is not okay.
I was also reminded of my own family when reading about Nate's. My dad was nowhere near as bad as his, but my dad would often hit my mother around whenever she didn't do everything he wanted correctly when he wanted it done and he would always threaten to beat her and call her derogatory names. My mother told me that she was abused by him on her wedding night and that if she could do it again, she wouldn't have married him. I think the only reason why my parents are till together after all this time is because my parents' church forbids divorce in all cases expect adultery. Even if you're in an abusive relationship, unless your spouse is having an affair, you aren't allowed to divorce. Even if you get a divorce, you aren't allowed to remarry and have to stay alone the rest of your life because if you get remarried after having a divorce, they consider you to be having an affair. They base this teaching on a literal interpretation of Matthew 19:8
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,[d] and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
I used to pray to God to intervene and save my mother somehow, but no matter how much I prayed, the prayer never came. This was also a part of why I ended up deconverting. Sometimes I wonder if I had a different family, if I would still be a Christian today. It's random though that reading the works of the New Atheists also helped me in my deconversion. I was already an ex-c by the time I read their works, but reading Dawkins and Hitchens helped me to embrace atheism.

 

Thanks for sharing this. There was no overt spousal abuse in my home. If there was any, it was my mother manipulating and putting down my father. At least that is how it looked to me. He could be quite a tyrant to us children. But he wasn't also our preacher so he didn't have complete control over our lives the way Fred Phelps did. My mother, however, had enormous control over my thoughts and feelings. No two families are exactly the same.

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I think this is why the series "Dexter" has been so popular.

 

You could very well be right.

 

I was reminded of the beginning of the second season, after his victims were discovered on the ocean floor. One guy came in to help identify the remains of one victim and he said "please, just tell me he's dead, so that I can tell my family that he's burning in hell."

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Psychological problems do not exist in a vacuum, and the particular type of underlying worldview one has will shape actions and emotions and thoughts. And all those actions, emotions, and thoughts can bring about serious psychological problems.

 

Had Mr. Phelps been raised in some liberal Quaker household I doubt he would have done the things he has in any format and I doubt he would have the psychological problems he is having now.

 

That's a good point.

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I do not understand why the parents of every child he still comes into contact with have not been advised that if they continue to allow him to have contact their children will be removed from them, irrespective of whether they say he's OK or not.

 

I struggle with american freedoms when they appear to mean freedom to abuse children and freedom to raise children in hatred and loathing. Even if the physical abuse has stopped the emotional abuse goes on while the world watches. Imagine the particular self leaothing in the hearts of the phelps family children who are gay (statistically there will be some!)

 

We have our child abuse case mess ups in the UK - but generally because the abuse was secret or the monitoring failed. I can't understand with the phelps family how it goes on week after week in front of everyone?

 

Am I alone in thinking that an individual who causes the kind of injuries Nate Phelps is known to have recieved - shouldn't be around children?

 

Am I alone in thinking that parents who make their children protest at funerals, and encourage them to hate in this way, are damaged individuals who cannot be entrusted with the care of the smallest and most vulnerable members of society?

 

Though the children that remain loyal to him claim that they were only spanked as children, there is an abundance of evidence to support the claims of two of his daughters and two of his sons that Phelps was physically abusive to his children and wife. Phelps has quoted Proverbs, 13:24, as justification for endorsing child abuse: "He that spareth his rod, hateth his son. But he that loveth him, chasteneth him betimes." In the 1960s, Phelps instructed a parishoner to punch his wife to settle arguments with her; the parishoner was arrested and Phelps was forced to put up bail. The following Sunday, Fred's sermon focused on the righteousness of spousal abuse: "A good left hook makes for a right fine wife. Brethren, they can lock us up, but we'll still do what the Bible tells us to do. Either our wives are going to obey, or we're going to beat them!"

 

Phelps' sons Nate and Mark, who claim that they were among the most abused, each suffer permanent debilitating injuries consistent with their stories of Phelps beating them with a mattock handle. According to the boys, he woke them one Christmas Eve in the 1970s while under the influence, bent them over a bathtub, and struck them nearly 300 times with the mattock handle.

 

In 1972 the boys showed up to school covered in welts, bruises, and bleeding wounds; the school nurse determined that Nate exhibited signs of shock. The family was investigated by social services, but Nate and Mark claim that their father threatened them with death if they spoke about their beatings. Phelps likewise issued threats against individual police officers and school staff, and filed a lawsuit against the school claiming they beat his children; the charges against Phelps, and Phelps' lawsuit, were dropped, but the affidavit that the school principal issued to social services remained on file as concrete evidence to support the stories of child abuse.

 

In the early 1990s Nate Phelps was diagnosed as suffering post traumatic stress syndrome. He and his brother have each been diagnosed as having suffered damage to the muscle tissue and tendons in their buttocks and legs, and both have scarring on their backsides, which they claim is the result of Phelps beating them with a custom made four-inch-wide strop. Around 1994 Nate was diagnosed as suffering bone chips and severe damage to the muscle tissue in his knees.

 

Marge Phelps, the boys' mother, suffers from bone chips and severe cartilage damage in her right shoulder, consistent with a story three of the Phelps children tell about Fred throwing her down a flight of stairs.

 

Many of the Phelps children who remain at Westboro openly admit to using physical violence against their children; Phelps' son, Jonathan, boasted to the Topeka Capital Journal in 1994 that he regularly beat his wife, Betty, and his children. On occasion members of the church have dared police and government officials to try and take legal action against them

.

 

What is this about? Is it because they are lawyers? What is this 'dare' ? I really don't understand.

 

I don't mean to impy that anyone here won't agree with me - just that american society as a whole - whilst denouncing the protests (and I understand that because of your free speech thing they are not simply stopped) does not seem to be insisiting that the children are rescued from their abusive situation ....

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I struggle with american freedoms when they appear to mean freedom to abuse children and freedom to raise children in hatred and loathing.

 

American's don't have this type of "freedom." If the children are in an abusive situation like this guy claims the only reason they remain there is that no one has investigated or no one has provided enough evidence to prove it. Hopefully his speaking out will give the authorities the probable cause they need to run a thorough investigation.

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No matter how much old Fred believes in magic, he will die soon. I wonder how long his church will survive without him? Is it too much to hope that without him they will disband/be brought up on charges?

 

It can't be too much longer to wait for this. I guess Shirley could take over but does anyone think she has the power over the rest of the family to keep them in line?

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Hi Burned,

 

One of my points is there has been masess of evidence in the public arena for years about the emotional abuse - and before Nate, others spoke out and there have been investigations including the children being seen (in the 1970's) with injuries so the physical abuse has been known as well ...

 

Memebers of the cult bait the authorities with claims that they beat their wives. Witnessing 'domestic violence' is abuse enough of a child in the UK to warrant the knock on the door

 

The physical abuse of the children aside ... the physical abuse of women witnessed by children aside .... perhaps these will now be revisited but my main point is this ...

 

for a number of years now week in week out people have been witnessing the emotional abuse of the children ... its public, it's known ... don't you think that coralling children into hatred of homosexuality, raising them to be isolated, psychologically damaging them to the extent we know, without testimony from those who have left - just things we know from the way they behave in public ... hasn't this been enough to warrant that 'knock on the door'?

 

The only explanation I can think of is that the american take on freedom of speech means that as a society maybe you accept that people can behave in this way - because this represents their free speech and the emotional welfare of the children comes second? That sounds like a terrible to say - but I just notice that no one is saying - 'yes the children are being horribly emotionally abused and it doesn't make sense to me either Alice'

 

Burned, what more 'probable cause' was needed? Don't you think that without Nate's testimony there is already 'probable cause'? That's what I'm getting at ....

 

I've been involved in a number of emotional abuse cases where the concern has been either the racist or homophobic views of parents and the impact of this on the emotional development of their children, I have to tell you - these were no where near as severe as the phelps family.

 

This is where the debate is for me - and that's what I don't understand. Why does american society not think that there is porbable cause in bucketfuls?

 

If this family lived in the UK and the appropriate authorities were not tkaing action - I have absolutley no doubt that there would be a natioanl campagin int eh press, int eh visual media, questions would be asked in parliament, kidsscape, NSPCC, all would be shouting about it. Lord Laming would be writing another enquiry, the heads of local social work agencies would be on the block ...

 

Now in most other areas of child protection there is very little difference in the feelings stirred up - maybe some differnece in process but that is all. I see a difference here with emotional abuse of children, where parents words and beliefs are causing them damage.

 

Emotional abuse is controversial and the trickiest part of child portection but this is such as extreme end - this is what I can't understand and again the only possible cause I can see, is our approach to freedom of speech?

 

His lawyers experience wouldn't put me off - I'd love an opportunity to face him down in the witness box and have done so many a time with some of the best barristers in the business cross examining me ;-)

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I struggle with american freedoms when they appear to mean freedom to abuse children and freedom to raise children in hatred and loathing.

 

American's don't have this type of "freedom." If the children are in an abusive situation like this guy claims the only reason they remain there is that no one has investigated or no one has provided enough evidence to prove it. Hopefully his speaking out will give the authorities the probable cause they need to run a thorough investigation.

 

 

Hi Vigile,

 

see my response to Burned ... do you really think there is not enough evidence of abuse without Nate's testimony?

 

The family certainly seem to have the 'freedom' to emotionally abuse their children and we can all see it happening. Sooner of later the suicides of some of these children will begin. Can you imagine the psychological torment for those members of the phels family who are gay?

 

In the UK we don't have the same freedom of speech - stirring up hate towards different groups in against the law. Now I know that this probably drives hatred under ground and of course there are children gorwing up with homophobic parents who secretly raise them in self loathing and self hatred.

 

The differnece here is that everyone knows it is is happening with the phelps family, I really can see no explanation for the lack of action than differences in law - as we would see plenty of 'probable cause' of emotional abuse and this family if in the UK- would either be working with a child protection plan or their children would have been removed form their care

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see my response to Burned ... do you really think there is not enough evidence of abuse without Nate's testimony?

 

I'm not familiar with this aspect of the Phelp's lives, but I would guess that it isn't a question of there not being enough evidence as it is with someone dropping the ball. Each state runs their own social welfare program and I'm sure some are more efficient than others. It's hard to say. I don't think that the US system is very different from your own however. What may differ is how well the laws are carried out from office to office. Most probably do it very well, but some may be overworked or have other inadequacies. One would think that the prosecutor would be chomping at the bit to nail these guys on something, but without knowing the details of why they haven't it's difficult to speculate what the problem here might be.

 

The only explanation I can think of is that the american take on freedom of speech means that as a society maybe you accept that people can behave in this way - because this represents their free speech and the emotional welfare of the children comes second?

 

It would be a wrong conclusion to make. Again, without the details it's hard to guess, but I can guarantee you that there is plenty of political will, American support for, and US hatred against the Phelps to nail them to the wall for something. Moreover, Americans for all their love of rights are just as protective of their children as you guys are. I know virtually no one who puts free speech rights above the welfare of children.

 

If you are looking for someone to blame here, start with the state of Kansas and work from there. This is not something uniquely American in any shape.

 

but I just notice that no one is saying - 'yes the children are being horribly emotionally abused and it doesn't make sense to me either Alice'

 

Maybe because we all obviously feel that way so saying it would be stating the obvious?

 

Burned, what more 'probable cause' was needed?

 

None. Again, I don't think anyone is defending anyone in this situation. Someone has screwed up. This is obvious. I'm simply saying this is a human failure, not a system failure. This is outside the system's rules.

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see my response to Burned ... do you really think there is not enough evidence of abuse without Nate's testimony?

 

I'm not familiar with this aspect of the Phelp's lives, but I would guess that it isn't a question of there not being enough evidence as it is with someone dropping the ball. Each state runs their own social welfare program and I'm sure some are more efficient than others. It's hard to say. I don't think that the US system is very different from your own however. What may differ is how well the laws are carried out from office to office. Most probably do it very well, but some may be overworked or have other inadequacies. One would think that the prosecutor would be chomping at the bit to nail these guys on something, but without knowing the details of why they haven't it's difficult to speculate what the problem here might be.

 

The only explanation I can think of is that the american take on freedom of speech means that as a society maybe you accept that people can behave in this way - because this represents their free speech and the emotional welfare of the children comes second?

 

It would be a wrong conclusion to make. Again, without the details it's hard to guess, but I can guarantee you that there is plenty of political will, American support for, and US hatred against the Phelps to nail them to the wall for something. Moreover, Americans for all their love of rights are just as protective of their children as you guys are. I know virtually no one who puts free speech rights above the welfare of children.

 

If you are looking for someone to blame here, start with the state of Kansas and work from there. This is not something uniquely American in any shape.

 

but I just notice that no one is saying - 'yes the children are being horribly emotionally abused and it doesn't make sense to me either Alice'

 

Maybe because we all obviously feel that way so saying it would be stating the obvious?

 

Burned, what more 'probable cause' was needed?

 

None. Again, I don't think anyone is defending anyone in this situation. Someone has screwed up. This is obvious. I'm simply saying this is a human failure, not a system failure. This is outside the system's rules.

 

I don't know that I'm looking for anyone to blame - just looking to try and understand how it can be happening.

 

Two different response's here - yours that someone has slipped up and missed probable cause - Burned's view that there hasn't been sufficient 'probable cause' before Nate's testimony.

 

The main thing I can't understand is - if it is human error and someone dropping the ball, why hasn't this 'mistake' - that is being made so publically, been pointed out in the media and then the appropriate action taken?

 

We've just had a really big child protection scandal in the UK. It was 'obvious' that it was appalling - but the obvious was still well stated, major news, enquiries, social workers sacked, systems analysed to see how it happened, I've seen the same sort of public outcry as a result of other child protection scandals in the US when the obvious again is stated - but the approach to this case just seems different to me Vigile and I'm trying to understand why, hope you know me well enough to know understanding is the name of the game for me and not blame ;-)

 

The only possible solution I have been able to come up with so far is that because a major component of the emotional abuse the children are experiencing is as a result of their parents 'speech' - the american approach to freedom of speech might be the reason it's allowed to continue? I take on board that you think it's a failure of local child protection agencies to take action, I still don't understand how, in the face of so much publicity such a failure can continue.

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The only possible solution I have been able to come up with so far is that because a major component of the emotional abuse the children are experiencing is as a result of their parents 'speech' - the american approach to freedom of speech might be the reason it's allowed to continue? I take on board that you think it's a failure of local child protection agencies to take action, I still don't understand how, in the face of so much publicity such a failure can continue.
I don't get it either. I mean, when that scandal got out about that one guy who ran that FDLS cult that would force their underaged daughters to marry their cousins, the guy who ran the cult was eventually arrested, but I don't see why Fred Phelps is still allowed to roam the streets.
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No matter how much old Fred believes in magic, he will die soon. I wonder how long his church will survive without him? Is it too much to hope that without him they will disband/be brought up on charges?

Exactly what I was thinking. Fred is the driving force behind his church and he obviously has complete and total control over every member of his family so my guess is that when he dies they'll be like lost helpless sheep without him.

 

I guess Shirley could take over but does anyone think she has the power over the rest of the family to keep them in line?

There is one slight problem with this....she is a she. According to their own doctrine women must submit to men and cannot have any authority over them, so she wouldn't be able to make decisions concerning the church or any of the men in the family. If she knows her rightly place she'll shut the fuck up and keep tending to her business of scrubbing toilets, cleaning and mopping, and leave important matters to those capable of handling them - the men.

 

Christian women should be seen and not heard.

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