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Would Jesus support health care reform?
Jesus depicted healing a sick child.
June 28th, 2012
08:45 AM ET

Would Jesus support health care reform?

Editor’s note: This piece ran earlier this year, but we’re spotlighting it now because of Thursday’s health care decision from the Supreme Court. The story generated more than 3,000 comments, including these two:

David Nelson
It is sad that Jesus has been demoted to being a politician. Jesus plainly said "My Kingdom is not of this world." Movements to use Him to promote their agendas, whether they be on the Left or Right, are extremely suspect in the eyes of this Christian.

kateslate
Jesus would SO have been a democrat. He taught us to care for the sick...not to profit off illness. I don't know how Republicans can live with themselves and call themselves Christian.

What’s your take?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - He was a healer, a provider of universal health care, a man of compassion who treated those with preexisting medical conditions.

We don’t know what Jesus thought about the individual mandate or buying broccoli. But we do know how the New Testament describes him. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus physically healing the most vulnerable and despised people in his society.

References to Jesus, of course, didn’t make into the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s hearings on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Yet there is a moral dimension to this epic legal debate:

How should the nation help its “least of these,” an estimated 50 million Americans who can’t afford health insurance, as well as those who could go broke or die because they can’t afford medical care?

Christians are as divided about this question as others. Many cite Jesus, but come up with completely different conclusions.

Trust God or government?

Tom Prichard, a Lutheran and president of the Minnesota Family Council, said it’s ultimately about faith.  Who do we trust – God or government?

He opposes “Obamacare” because he has more faith in the market and people, than government.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“Here Jesus’ words come to mind about not worrying and trusting God to meet our basic needs,” Prichard wrote in an online post warning about the dangers of “government run health care.” “Or if we believe it all depends on us, we’ll look to government.”

When reached at his Minnesota office,Prichard elaborated: He said the nation should empower families and individuals to make health-care decisions. If families can’t afford health insurance, private and public entities like churches and nonprofits should step in, he said.

“We all have the same goal,”Prichard said. “We want all people to have health care, even people who can’t afford it. I would argue that having the government be the primary vehicle for providing it is not going to get us to that goal. It’s going to make the situation worse.”

Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver, evoked Jesus’ words about Rome and taxation.

Raschke cited the New Testament passage when Jesus, after being asked if Jews should pay taxes to Rome, said that people should "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

Jesus was against strictly political or economic solutions because he thought they were too easy when it comes to the real challenges of human life, Raschke said.

“Writing checks won’t solve social problems,” Raschke said. “One has to get involved. If we see someone in need, we just don’t throw a dollar at him or her. You get to know them, you offer yourself, and ask what you can do for them.”

Helping the Good Samaritans of our day

There are some Christians, though, who say that charity isn’t enough to solve the nation’s health care problems.

An estimated 32 million Americans could lose health insurance if “Obamacare” is struck down, including children who can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 and seniors who get help paying for their drug prescriptions. Most observers say health care costs would continue to rise.

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Some people believe the health care situation in America would be scandalous to Jesus because he was a prophet concerned about social justice.

Steven Kraftchick, a religious scholar, said Jesus comes out of the tradition of Jewish prophets who preached that the health of a society could be measured by how well they took care of “its widows and orphans,” those who had the least power.

Kraftchick said there’s a famous story in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus heals such a person. He was the man who called himself Legion. He might have been called homeless and mentally ill. The man roamed a graveyard, so tormented that even chains could not hold him and everyone feared him, Mark wrote.

Jesus healed the man not only physically, but socially as well, according to Mark. The man returned to his community with a sense of dignity, said Kraftchick, a professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.

“A move toward universal health care would be fitting with the prophetic traditions,” Kraftchick said. “When you read the New Testament and look at the signs of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, it’s always connected to being physically healed.”

Yet Marcia Pally, an authority on evangelicals, said many evangelicals are wary of government doing the healing.  Their reasons go back centuries.

Many are the descendants of people who fled Europe because of religious persecution from countries and state churches. They fought a revolution against a government in England.  And they settled a frontier, where the virtue of self-reliance was critical, said Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Suspicion of government is part of their historical and religious experience, said Pally, a professor at Fordham University and New York University.

Those attitudes, though, may be changing. Pally said she spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She discovered that a new generation of evangelists now believes that certain issues are too big and complex to be addressed by charity alone.

“Some note that charity is very good at the moment of emergency relief but it doesn’t change the underlying problem  unless structures that keep people poor, sick or deny their access to health insurance are changed,” she said.

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the legal debate will continue. If more Americans go broke or die because they do not have health insurance, more Americans may ask, what would Jesus do?

But don’t expect any easy answers from the Bible, said Raschke, the religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

“People are always looking for support from the Bible for American political positions,” Rashke said. “Would Jesus be against abortion, or would he support a woman’s right to choose? It’s almost become a standard joke in the theological world that you quote Jesus in American politics to support your political views.

“The teachings of Jesus do not fit into the views of any political party."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Health care • Jesus • Politics

soundoff (5,234 Responses)
  1. AverageJoe76

    I believe mankind has seen a large variety of unexplained events / things beyond our comprehension at various points within history. This helps fuel religion. It offers a way to explain what was unexplainable. Manipulator-humans who seize the mind with convincing words saw the power religion had and formed rules to keep you 'binded'. 'H ell' is an example of an ultimate punishment for not following the rules. "Don't believe? Then suffer eternally." A guideline. A boundary. Nothing more. It's the belt your parents or grandparents displayed with the threat of a thrashing.

    June 29, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  2. Jerri

    Of course Jesus would support Obamacare. However, we as Americans are so emotional. At times we lose all common decency and just thank about our selves. We seem to relate thing to me, me, me. There are real people out their with real problems. I have been sick for a long time and I have "No" health care coverage. I have worked hard during my lifetime, now I need help I can't get it. I don't know how long I have to live, but I was so happy to see this. When I heard the courts ruling, I did not once think about myself, but what a victory it is for the President. God is with the man and in him, that's all I can say. Everything the enemy does against him fails.

    June 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  3. AverageJoe76

    For the atheists; Although you don't believe in God, do you take into consideration that spirits or the soul could be real? Even if not in the traditional sense?

    June 29, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Strong Man

      No – Brain / Mind dichotomy. Can't have one without the other. Have a nice day.

      June 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @Strong Man – even when people have recorded strange out-of-body experiences? Seeing things that are out of the field of vision their body was positioned? I'm not sure if there are 'energies' within or about us we have no comprehension of.

      June 29, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  4. Horus

    I love the inaccurate depictions of "Christ" imagined by white Europeans and Americans. Fabio looks with milky white skin. The historical Jesus would have been one of those scary looking sand people....oh no......say it ain't so. Yep, he was just a middle-eastern man; the equivalent of a modern day evangelist. Living off other's emotional voids.

    June 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  5. AverageJoe76

    Let's be real; church is boring. It's like being part of a book club, discussing the same book....... forever.

    June 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Worse, at one time you could be killed for thinking that the book made no sense.

      June 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  6. Nick

    At the mention of Jesus believers find their faith renewed while the demons seethe with rage.

    June 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Horus

      ....and the non-believers laugh at the pure entertainment of it all ;-}

      June 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • OTOH

      Nick,

      Anyone who disagrees with you will automatically be labeled a "demon". So, nevermind.

      June 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      If us 'non-believers' could see any of this stuff, we wouldn't be 'non-believers'. Have you ever seen a demon?

      June 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I've seen some postings on here that seem demonic

      June 29, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • sam

      Don't forget to salt your doors at night, or the demons will get in.

      June 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I think the "saltier" I am the less likely I'll be over run by one. Thanks. Do you know the origin of the phrase "salt of the earth"?

      June 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  7. CGKaneohe

    The most significant thing about the teachings of Jesus is that he taught that people should learn to do good things and that that action should come from the heart. It has absolutely nothing to do with a govt who forces people to do certain things. Just because Jesus cared about healing the sick does *NOT* mean that he would advocate a govt who forces people to buy health care, or that he would advocate a govt that removes the personal involvement of service from taking care of the needy. He was interested in changing people's hearts, not just in their physical condition. He would definitely not have supported the faceless govt that removes the incentive from people to be their brother's keeper, because if someone knows the govt will take care of everything, there won't be much incentive to get involved himself.

    June 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      CGKaneohe, have you considered that it people were actually doing that (Keeping their Brother) Health Care at the government level would not be necessary.

      Since people are not now nor ever have "Kept their Brother" HealthCare at the government level is necessary, or do we just let people die in the streets. We don't even take care of our parents, we put them in homes waiting alone for death.

      June 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Horus

      You villify the government for proding people to do the right thing, and be resposible, yet within the realm of religion the same occurs via that threat of eternal d.amnation.... pot/kettle?

      June 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Good point Horus. SO if the government were instead called "The Church" You would still be in favor of the mandate?

      June 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Horus

      @Bill – If the government were the Church we wouldn't have even had legal review to decide. It would have been ordered so I'm not sure that's arguable – unless I want to be boiled alive, stoned, burned, etc.... Keep in mind the individual mandate was the brain child of the Heritage Foundation/GOP, not Liberals....

      June 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I understand. My question is aimed at an idea I hear that people are against "The Church" controlling everything. I'm simply wondering if "The Church actually was running everything how it might strike you as opposed to the government running everything. Do you prefer the pot or the kettle?

      June 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  8. Bootyfunk

    A Canaanite woman wants Jesus to heal her sick daughter. Jesus tells his disciples he only heals Jews. He calls the woman a dog and won’t heal her daughter until she agrees that she’s a dog. Yes, quite the model of compassion.

    Mathew 15:21-28
    21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
    22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
    23 Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
    24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
    25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
    26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
    27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
    28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

    yeah, sounds like a real "loving" guy.

    June 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I must be missing your point. The woman made her need known to the Lord and by her proclamation of faith her desire was fulfilled. Where in this is there an indictment of Jesus? That he asked a question causing her to identify her faith? Pretty slim Booty

      June 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      are you kidding? take off the rose colored glasses.

      jesus first complains that a woman is following him crying. then he is a racist and tells her he only heals jews. then he says he shouldn't help her - because her race are dogs and it would be like helping a dog before a real person. the woman agrees she is a dog, but says "dogs eat scraps from the table, don't they?" now jesus, pleased with the woman agreeing she is a lowly dog, finally helps her daughter.

      and you see nothing wrong with that?

      June 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • shwmin

      In speaking of bread, he refers to himself, the bread of life. In speaking of dogs, using the greek word for a pet dog, he is refering to the Gentiles. In other words he is saying, I have come first for the Jews. Jesus words do not contradict the truth that God's message is for all people (psalms 22:57, Isaiah 56:7) after all, when Jesus said these words he was in gentile territory on a mission to gentile people. He ministered to gentiles on many other occasions also. Jesus was simply telling the woman that Jews were to have the first opportunity to accept him as the Messiah because God wanted them to present the message of salvation to the rest of the world.

      June 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  9. clubschadenfreude

    seems that Christians pick and choose what they want to imagine their invisible friend "really" wants. Seems like JC's administion to take care of the "least of these" is the end to the discussion and that, if this set of myths was true, a lot of Christians would be considered "goats" rather than "sheep".

    June 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Aside from the obvious "swipe" by using the word myth, I agree wholeheartedly. Christians take note, our ministry is being watched.

      June 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  10. Julie

    Jesus was neither republication or democrat. How ridiculous to even think about the subject. Jesus was so far above our stupid little games and power struggles. What an insult to try to compare anything he did with anything we do. Jesus fed people and healed people because he loved them. He didn't heal people by lobbying Congress for better insurance coverage. He healed with his touch.

    June 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      if jesus existed at all, he was just a man and a cult leader. he wasn't divine, possessed no magical powers. stop being silly.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Paul

      Where is your proof?

      June 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • jamest297

      Just like an earlier poster said when referring to jeebus and what he's do about health care: It's hard to beat FREE healthcare from laying on of hands. No can compete.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      better question - where's your proof? the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. jesus existed? where's your proof?

      June 29, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Paul

      You started this first you claimed he isn't real burden is on you this time.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • clubschadenfreude

      From all the evidence, Jesus Christ is a character from fiction. This character, in addition to being claimed to have healed and fed people, is also supposedly responsible for saying that one must follow all worldly leaders since he/God put them in power. He said that those who didn't follow him should be put to death (Luke 19), and that people should give up all of their wealth and follow him, depending on him/God to provide as the lilies and birds. Funny how Christians edit those parts out. Give up this primitive religion and realize that humans have the power to take care of each other, no need for some jealous deity at all.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      no, obviously i didn't start it. did i say jesus was real? that person started it. your argument is childlike.

      you say jesus is real - provide proof and stop making excuses.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • jamest297

      You are wrong. jeebus was a democrat. Did he not say: "One for all and all for one?"

      Now that I think about it, that might have been the Three Musketeers. Same difference.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The question in the article presumes the existence of Jesus. Why bring your eighth grade religion debate into the central question under discussion? The truth is the evidence is as inconclusive one way as another so every individual gets to choose their acceptance of Jesus as Savior or not. The question, again presupposing his reality, is would he support the current policy?

      June 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • shwmin

      bootyfunk said..you say jesus is real – provide proof and stop making excuses.....Provide proof Columbus was real, How bout pontious Pilate, How bout Einstein....Did you ever see him physically....I dont think so...You need to read about them to learn about them...? If you have to look at written accounts to prove it than I can give you Plenty of non biblical and biblical accounts that he was real..

      June 29, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      schwmin,
      "I can give you Plenty of non biblical and biblical accounts that he was real.."

      No, you can't. Every one that you have listed has been roundly refuted.

      June 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  11. BriSoFla

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    June 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  12. Bootyfunk

    what a ridiculous question. very much like asking what would hercules think about health care. who cares. both mythological figures that didn't exist. irrelevant.

    June 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Paul

      There are non religious records that show Jesus lived on this earth. What a silly thing to argue.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      such as? link your evidence.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • shwmin

      Come on now booty... I gave you NUMEROUS non biblical accounts of Jesus yesterday....Do you need me to repost them or have you conveniently forgot?

      June 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  13. Peter

    If this blog is a microcosm of the universal man, I’ll take the divine; at least he offers a better life and surrounds himself with people of integrity.

    June 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      except that he doesn't exist. which means you are in a cult wasting your time.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Cq

      The "divine" is something that resides in the imagination, which is the only place where something perfect can exist. You're comparing apples to oranges here.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Peter

      How do you know it doesn't exist, you act like you have concrete evidence that makes you certain that it is not real. On the other hand 3000 years of Judiasm and 2000 years of Christianity that have survived every threat that they have faced. And moral truth does exist, so how did it get there?

      June 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by 'Peter' is a form of the flawed argument known as Pascal's Wager and also contains an instance of the ad populum fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      June 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • jamest297

      And as Khrushchev appeared in front of the Russian Communist Party Congress when making a presentation accepting the appointment as Soviet Premier and acknowledging the horrors of living under Stalin and in front of the enormous hall of delegates for the first time, an anonymous delegate shouted out: "And comrade Khrushchev, where were you while all these murders and atrocities and things were going on?"

      Khrushchev shouted back: "Who said that?"

      When silence came across the hall, Mr. Khrushchev added: "Now you know where I was comrade!"

      Integrity depends on where you are and what you have been through. Jesus and his apologists made it all up because that's what they had to do to keep their followers in line and to live to fight another day – just like 20th century soviets!

      June 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      peter, YOU are making the extraordinary claim that there is a magic god in the sky - YOU must provide proof for you claim. the burden of proof is upon the one making the claim.

      otherwise, by your logic, prove my i'm not god. can't? then i must be. see how bad that logic is?

      ethics were around long before christianity reared it's ugly head. what civilization allowed murder? none. sorry, christianity doesn't get credit for don't murder, don't steal, etc. and the golden rule? confucious had the golden rule thousands of years before jesus. we don't need religion for ethics.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Cq

      Peter
      I didn't say that the divine didn't exist, just that people have to rely upon their imaginations in order to describe it. 20 different believers can have 20 widely different opinions on what the divine is like, which is a whole lot more diversity than you would get when describing something concrete like a rock, or a flower.

      Egyptian and other ancient religions predate the Jewish Faith. By your argument they are even more true than the one you are defending, right?

      June 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  14. jamest297

    And another, another thing jeebus would say: "A pretty girl can do anything, an ugly girl has to do everything."

    June 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  15. Marc

    Honestly, if you still care what Jesus would have thought or would do, you've living outside of reality as though this single HUMAN BEING has anything to do with the real world. The problem in the world is that people use religion to formulate the way they think. This is wrong. People need to stop believing and start looking at evidence and facts to formulate their understanding of the world around them and stop believing in something that isn't real.

    June 29, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Peter

      You cannot argue that morality isn't real though.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      of course you can argue that morality isn't real.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Peter

      There are moral truths that existed before Judiasm, how did they get there?

      June 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Cq

      Morality can be real, but fluid, not set in stone carved thousands of years ago.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Paul

      Why not?

      June 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  16. Jack

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    June 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  17. ModernMan

    cincinnatichristianmoms.com

    June 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  18. jamest297

    Another "FIRST THING" jeebus might say is: "Wow, have you guys seen the NASDAQ composite today?"

    June 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~~

      June 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • tony

      God, you're boring.

      June 29, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      A troll is as a troll does.

      June 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  20. DomNY

    Wow what a stupid question.

    First No Jesus wouldn't support the law on principal. Jesus told Pilate, Jesus' Kingdom was not part of this world so he probably wouldn't support any man made healthcare system.

    And secondly why would Jesus support a healthcare system when he could cure the sick, heal the blind, AND raise the dead for free? You can't compete with free.

    June 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • jamest297

      I can't believe there is no way to LIKE posts to this forum. This one would get many millions!

      June 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Annasmum

      AMEN! LIKE!!!!

      June 29, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      except if jesus did exist, he was just a man. no magical healing powes, sowwy. so he wouldn't be healing anyone.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Cq

      So, Jesus wouldn't support the Const.itution either. Your argument kinda settles the one in the other tread; Lee Greenwood: America is Christian.

      June 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Bob

      So, Dom, how come your "wonderful" Jesus won't even lift a finger to heal and help all the millions of innocent kids in Africa and elsewhere suffering from horrid diseases and starvation?

      The reason is that your Jesus never was a divine entity, and your "loving" god obviously does not exist with the oft-claimed characteristics that Christians try to spin. Your idiotic beliefs are worthless and an insult to humanity.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      June 29, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Samuel

      Bob – he sent a boat, a helicopter, and BAND AID. Complete with Boy George and Bono. Do they know it's christmas?

      June 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
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