Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Open Letter to All Christian Homeschool Groups




I was reading a thread in a Secular homeschool group on facebook that was discussing how difficult it can be to find active, live, groups to participate in that are secular depending on where you live.  I can relate to that.  I’ve been homeschooling for just over 3 years now and I only found the secular group we are now a part of about 9 months ago --- when it was started.  Prior to that we were a part of an ‘Inclusive’ group that fell apart and then another group that was to be inclusive that I actually helped organize, that fell apart.  I secretly believe that ‘inclusive’ , where I live, doesn’t meant what I think it means! The majority of the participants where Christian and those that weren't never felt comfortable.  But that’s a different blog post.


On this thread that I was reading, a fellow secular homeschooler was sharing her story about how after a year….A YEAR…of participating in a home school group where religion had never come up, she received a ‘get the hell out’ letter right before Christmas.  She had been ‘found out’, I suppose.



Now, I do not know all the details, nor did I ask.  Maybe she had to sign a statement of faith upon joining and did so, just to get in, and was then found to be a ‘liar’.  Maybe she had a change of heart about her personal, religious beliefs during the course of the year and made mention of it and was then kicked out.  Maybe the group was not militant in making the particulars of its beliefs known because they never imagined someone joining who wasn’t a Christian and when they discovered that was the case they freaked the hell out.  Who knows.  It doesn’t matter.  This isn’t the first type of story like this that I’ve read or been told or better yet, experienced myself.  But this sort of non-Christian behavior by supposed Christians always ticks me off and it suddenly dawned on me, I have a blog!  I can use that to get my message out, granted to all of probably 5 of you who read it...

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Here is my open letter to all Christian Homeschool Groups:



I just don’t understand why you make the choices you do.  I certainly don’t understand your treatment of non-believers.  I’m appalled at your treatment of fellow homeschoolers who don’t meet your criterion.



If you are a Christian group, with a clear ‘Statement of Beliefs’ and someone wants to join who is not of the same beliefs there are only TWO reasons why they would want to join. 

1)  They are trying to subvert your children and lead them to the devil.



2)  They are homeschoolers who need a nice, welcoming, friendly group of women and children with whom to socialize and to discuss homeschooling. 



Why is it assumed that reason #1 is factual with every person who isn’t a believer?  Why does your statement of faith have to be every members’ statement of faith?  Why isn’t it enough for a member to acknowledge that those are the beliefs of that group (or co-op) and no other beliefs expressed (or taught) are welcome?  And do you know why I wonder all this?  Because anyone who wishes to join your group, even though they don’t hold the same beliefs as you, has to be so desperate for homeschooling contacts and support that they are willing to shut their own mouths and keep their beliefs to themselves just to make those contacts and hopefully find that support!!!



If, by some chance, you have some horror story you’d like to share with me about how some evil woman, who was an atheist, I’m sure, tried to join your Christian group in order to turn all the children into godless lovers of gays – spare me.  *IF* someone joined a group for that kind of reason, it wouldn’t take long to figure it out and kick them out.  If you or your children are so shaky in what you believe and why, that one person can crumble your world with opposing views ----- or even evil rhetoric ----- you’ve got bigger problems than you realize.



At the end of the day we are all homeschoolers, be we religious or secular, traditional schooling or unschooling, we are in the category of ‘out of the box’ for our choice in how we are educating our children.  Can that and that alone not be enough to ban us together and support one another?  I say it should be enough……but alas, I must be in the minority.  Perhaps it is because I’m not a participant in the religious movement known as Christianity that I simply cannot understand why a CHRISTian group would kick out someone who had caused no problems for them, and right before the CHRISTmas holiday, no less.



Ah, but wait.  I was once a believer.  I was  (am – according to those who believe in the ‘once saved, always saved’ doctrine) a ‘born-again, baptized by water and with the Holy Spirit’ card carrying, church attending, bible studying Christian.  Guess what?  The Jesus I met, whom I met the same way all Christian do, – through the ‘Word of God’ – didn’t teach us to hate the unbeliever, shun the unbeliever, or kick the unbeliever out.  He instructed us to love one another as He loves us.  He didn’t just instruct us, he commanded us!  All his lessons point to acts of charity – love.  He wanted our lights to shine from inside us and light the path for the world. 



So for the love of your God, act like the man you claim to follow.  And if you MUST be an exclusive group that allows or welcomes no one but Christians, make sure you are upfront about that- don’t’ hide behind rhetoric or the mumble jumble of a statement of beliefs.  Be honest.  Just say it, flat out – if you aren’t a Christian you are NOT welcome.  But, if you are the only homeschooling group in your community, how about thinking about doing the Christian thing and opening yourself up to ‘outsiders’.  Consider it mission work.  The church has no problem dangling food, water, clothes, shelter, etc…..in front of third world communities in exchange for them listening to the word of God – if a non-believer would like to make friends and get homeschooling support from your group, why not let them in?  Be a decent human being, and a loving follower of Christ.  Love them where THEY are, not where YOU are; after all isn’t that what Jesus does for us?  If he only loved us from where he is….we’d all be doomed, right?  Besides, trust me, most, if not all secular homeschoolers would rather bowl alone than join a Christian homeschool group and do you know why?  The majority of Christian groups don’t seem to understand the concepts of acceptance, brotherly love, and kindness.  How sad is that?  It’s a good thing that the Apostles didn’t have that sort of attitude, or the Word would have never spread and your religion wouldn’t exist today. 



Thank you.



The Inappropriate Homeschooler

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Did that seem hostile?  Did I sound pissed?  Do I sound disgusted?  Well, I am.  I am sick and tired of Christians getting away with making people cry, treating people like shit, or even worse because THEY are Christians who are in the ‘right’ belief.  I have Catholic friends and Mormon friends who are just as uncomfortable inside these ‘Christian’ homeschooling groups because they aren’t the ‘right’ type of Christian or not consider to really be a Christian.  Sheesh!  The judging that goes on………stones cast all over the place!



I’ve forgotten more than a lot of Christians will ever have studied for themselves, of that I’m sure.  I rejected the man-made doctrines attached to the religious Christian movement.  I was kicked out of Christian groups for no longer being a Trinitarian and later, was not welcomed because my idea of what it meant to follow Jesus was not the ‘main-stream’ movement’s idea.  Hence, a secular homeschooler was born!



I don’t blog about that in order to get a flood of emails or comments from Christians who want to get into religious debates with me.  I blog about this because it is something that still lights a fire under my ass.  Christians being jerks to each other, people of different beliefs, or unbelievers.  It just isn’t Christ like and for the love of everything Holy, they should live up to the name they have claimed for themselves.



Did these folks in these groups ever stop and think about how it is the sinners that should be most welcomed?  That it is the unbelievers that they should want to shine their inner light upon?  That the only Jesus some people ever see is the one that is supposedly living inside them??  Did these folks ever stop and think about what kind of ‘testimony’ their actions and words give to the ‘unbeliever’? 

Those types of actions speak to

1) a lack of true, deep faith in their own expressed beliefs;

2) an unwilling spirit toward being used in another person’s life for God’s purpose, and

3) an arrogance that THEY can bring (or not) someone to God, rather than having faith that God takes care of his Creation and all they need to be worried about doing is……



What was it again? 



Oh right, loving one another – including the ‘supposed’ enemy.  Jesus was concerned for the spiritual condition of the unbeliever.  He had a compassionate purpose toward tending to their well being.  He demonstrated this by meeting them where they lived, feeding them, teaching them, healing them.  He never once turned his back on them because they didn’t believe.  So shame on the Christian religious movement for thinking they know better, or are better, than Jesus – the man they say is their King and Savior.



Time and again I’m brought back to Ghandi’s quote:  “I like your Christ, I don’t care very much for your Christians.”



So often, I agree.



~Mari B.

32 comments:

  1. I love this. I am a christian but I would love to find a secular local group of homeschoolers. I feel like I don't fit in with the christian ones here and wish I could find people I feel more comfortable about and don't feel like I'm being judged for who I am.

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  2. Best. Post. Ever. From all of us who have been shunned by Christian homeschooling groups, thank you.

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  3. I am a Christian and I agree with you here whole heartedly! I've recently been bullied by people who I thought were Christian friends of mine in my homeschool group. They told me that I was a bad Christian and going to hell because I listen to secular music like Lady Gaga, Ke$ha, and Katy Perry, I watch secular tv shows like Glee, The Vampire Diaries, and Teen Wolf, I say words like "crap", "sucks", and "pissed", and I'm not the nicest goody two shoes in the world. It hurts my feeling when people in my homeschool group act all high and mighty "I'm holier than you because I am a perfect Christian and you're not". I've been told that I'm "displeasing to God" by Christian adults who were in a leadership role in my life. I'm sick of "Christians" judging other Christians and none Christians when they're actually no better anyone. So I must say that I love this post! Love, A Teenage Christian Homeschooler

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  4. Thank you for saying what desperately needed to be said. :)

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  5. THANK YOU!

    I see this so many times. I live in GA - and the only group is one with a statement of faith but we aren't welcome. We are a pagan family.

    In fact, it's not even a good idea - depending on where we're going - to allow our necklaces to be seen. Or certain rings. Or to say the wrong thing. We've been dropped like hot potatoes by people who we loved because we're the "wrong" type of people.

    We aren't living in the stix either - this is a small town just 20 minutes outside a large city, just 90 if traffic is bad from the capital. But good luck finding support or even other secular homeschoolers - it seems they are all hiding somewhere or like you said, so desperate that they are claiming to believe something they aren't in order to be part of that group.

    We've even been told by a missionary coming to the door that our son's autism is because we aren't Christian. Great way to convert. And like you, we both were once churchgoers. It seems a lot have forgotten to lead by example.

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    1. OMG. I'll have to make sure and tell my sister that her son can't POSSIBLY be autistic, since autism is evidently a punishment meted out to non-Christian parents. That's the sort of attitude that caused me to leave the church. I still identify myself as a Christian, but I don't want hatred, vitriol, prejudice, persecution, and man-made dogma to be part of my worship.

      As it happens, I know exactly what you've experienced. One of my dearest friends is a pagan. When we met many, many moons ago, and started having lunch on a regular basis (in other words, when it looked like we might become friends), she told me that she's pagan. Evidently, she's been dropped by a lot of so-called Christian "friends" because of that and she decided, knowing that I'm a Christian, to go ahead and tell me before she got attached to our friendship so I could drop her without hurting her feelings too badly. Mind you, I'm not saying that I'm great friend material. I'm not. I'm a TERRIBLE friend. I forget to call you back, I miss lunch dates, I won't remember your birthday unless Facebook reminds me, and I'm sure not going to plan your bridal shower/baby shower/retirement party. I MIGHT pet sit for you, but I probably won't offer to babysit. That being said, for some reason this gal still wanted to be my friend, and the only obstacle that she could see was our vast difference in faith. I asked her exactly when it was that Jesus told me I couldn't love pagans, and we've been friends ever since.

      I don't think it's leading by example that our Christian neighbors have forgotten. I think they've forgotten how to love without bias. I love my pagan friend, not in spite of her pagan-ness, but rather for herself. I figure that's where Christ would start, and doesn't the word Christian actually mean "like Christ?" (Or follower of Christ or something along those lines - I never said I was a GOOD Christian!)

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  6. Thank you so much. In point of fact, I was told specifically that religion didn't matter, although most of those in the group were Christian. When I was "outed" after my daughter passed out business cards for her little bath salt business (at age 10) and the domain was my personal pagan blog, they freaked. That's when they created the statement of faith, and sent it to only five of the 35 families involved in the group. The five families they doubted. It was cruel and painful, after thinking these women were my friends for a year. I was, and still am just devastated, three years later. I live extremely rurally, and they were my only support offline. I NEEDED them. They obviously did not need me.

    Afterward, I sent them messages asking them to ask as Christ would. To not turn me away. What if I was seeking? What if I needed witnessing to? Who else would spread the gospel to me but them? They blocked my messages and slowly unfriended me one by one. It was a very personal, and very painful message sent to me over and over again. "We don't want you. We don't care about you. You're not worth our time. All the time we spent with you, prayed with you, even LAID HANDS UPON YOU, was all a lie. You are not one of us."

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    1. I am so sorry for what happened to you! I'm sure that three years later and across the internet, my comment won't heal the wound, but I wish I could hug you.

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  7. After two decades you would think (hope) that we _as a community_ would have learned to play nice with each other. Most new homeschoolers don't know (or want to know?) about the foundations of this issue. It goes deep, very deep. As with all things ... follow the money (and fear-mongers) and you'll begin to understand why _they_ impose these SOF, why they are told they should not be _yoked with unbelievers_.

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  8. This is such an amazing post. It wasn't written by me or about me, but it could have been. I'm so sad it's happening all over the place, but I'm so glad to see that I'm not alone in this.
    Dianna

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  9. Wow! After nearly 30 years of homeschooling it is a breath of fresh air to see this being discussed. I am Jewish. I cannot begin to tell you how many so called inclusive groups really mean "any kind of Christian is welcome, no one else". That is actually more offensive then a group that is open and honest about only wanting Christian members.

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  10. It's not enough to be Christian, you have to be their kind of Christian as well. I am so happy that we have a great homeschool group, and in the Deep South of all places, that is open and tolerant. We have Christians in the group (the founder is Christian), but we also have atheists, agnostics, Mormons, Catholic Christians, New Age Thinkers, and every shade of interest, eccentricity, normality, kookiness, and dullness that you can imagine. We all love each other even though we sometimes don't see eye to eye, and my children are so much better for being part of it. If you don't have a great group, start your own.

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  11. In defense of the Christian groups -- avoiding secular world is one of their main motivators for homeschooling their children. If they wanted to be around secular people, they would just put their kids in public school.

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  12. We like to say that inclusive means both Baptists AND Methodists around here.

    We're lucky enough to have an inclusive group that means not just religious inclusivity, but all kinds of "others" (including me). I'm so grateful for good people who don't make anyone sign on the dotted line.

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  13. Share a story with you - at a Christmas Play rehearsal - a friend of mine came up to me wringing her hands. She said she needed to talk to me. She's a new mom in town with two beautiful girls, I talked her into joining our tiny local online group last summer. Almost as if she were confessing to a Meth Addiction, she meekly wanted me to know - that She, herself, was not a Christian. That I had asked her to join a Christian Group, but she wasn't. I had to think - OH! The name of the group was Christian Homeschoolers of _____ city. Right. This poor girl! I assured her that the online group was inteneded to be Homeschoolers of the Area. Went back to the person who created the online group and she agreed, and we changed the name to Homeschoolers of ____ city. I can't be a part of a group that makes you pull out a card to say what your 'faith' looks like. I have friends of all walks of faith. Even in faiths outside of my biblical beliefs. My low standards are - if you want to be my friend, and you've gotten to know me, and you still want to be my friend - you are my friend. It's my only requirement. Like Me. and I will Like You. Pretty simple and it hasn't burned me yet. I did hawk up a lung this early in the morning after a cold at the Godless Lovers of Gays comment. I am a follower of Christ. I do believe in the Bible as truth. But I also believe in Free Choice. Because I value my choices. I believe that two people should be able to have the same tax and federal / state rights as any, and shouldn't have to give a DVD of what happens in the bedroom to qualfy. People don't know what we do in our beddroom. Why should I know what happens in theirs? I was also a radical unschooler for a time, and for traditional schoolers I still am. I also don't believe in denominations at all. No labels. So - as you can imagine, I've pretty much been shunned out of our Christian homeschool group in the largest town next to ours. I'm sharing this post. Because I've seen it in in action too many times. Eating our own. Do you belive in Creation? Do you believe in an old earth? Ohhh noooooo. Now you are out of our group. You might hurt my kid. Sigh. My Christ? The one I try to follow? His heart breaks. This isn't what he died for.

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  14. @Anonymous - what a terrible reason to homeschool. Seriously. Look at your words. You just said that their motivation is prejudice.

    THANK YOU for this post! We have a group that includes Christians (including a Mormon, who believes in CHRIST thank you very much) and Non-Christians. You know what? They are my dearest friends. They have my back...more than my Christian family ever had. SO...it can be done. To believe in Christ and be friends with others who don't believe. /But then, I'm an accidental homeschooler, and my kids started in public school...so maybe my Christianity is compromised.

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  15. I am so glad you have gotten such positive feedback about this post, Mari B. I think what is missing in the post and in the comments is the impact inclusiveness/exclusion has upon homeschooled kids. You know, I cannot expect my daughter (8) to have a clear understanding of what a Christian is, much less a Mormon or a Methodist, other than someone who believes in the teachings of a guy named Jesus Christ. But it is the turnaround: kids telling MY kid she is going to hell because she does not follow this particular historical individual. Forget we moms and our bruised feelings: what about the kids?

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    1. El - thank you for pointing this out. It was my implied sentiment, as moms seek the social aspect for their children especially, but I didn't address is as an independent issue and you are right, I should have!

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  16. As a Christ beliver. I have found that the simple basic rule are thrown out the window. The hardest one for many is not Judging others! If we are true followers we do not reject others because they do not believe. Our job is to bring others to Christ. Im sorry, but Im pretty sure rejecting and judging them is not going to bring them to Christ. Im a young mom that is starting up homeschooling, but I have been finding there is more drama and stress in a Christian homeschool group. I love reading the comments and this blog. I like to see more believers stand up and say not all "Christians" are like that and we are sorry that others like to think they are self-righteous!

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  17. I am a Christian. I would like to say thank you for writing this. It's a needed reminder.

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  18. I am a Christian who was run out of my local Secular Homeschoolers group due to someone ELSE's opinions being offensive. I enjoyed my friends in the group, we met their families, ate meals together, but when it came down to it, they could say or do anything they wanted including cussing someone out for their beliefs, but if a Christian member (there were only 4 of us who dared to attempt to stay in the group) mentioned anything offensive to them, it was because we were Christians who were hell-bent (see what Idid there?) on ruining their group. We went through many cycles of hate and isolation and rediculous behaviour and then the owner shut down the group and when it reopened a few months later, we were not invited back. Fortunately, I met my BEST friend through that group and I had moved on by the time the group started back up, but I know that hopeless feeling when your only support is pulled out from under you. I am sorry to those who have been judged unfairly and who are desperate for support and can not find it. I wish you all the best.

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    1. Carol - I agree about the nastiness being unnecessary in any group, including a Secular one and I addressed that in my follow up post 'Responding to Responses'. I tried to run an inclusive group and little luck. But I know others who have had great success. It comes down to what kind of people are involved in the group. All it takes is one whiner or jerk from any side to bring the whole mess down.

      I find it unbelievable (not that I don't believe what you are saying) that there are those who would cuss out another simply for what they believe, but I find the human raise unbelievable on a daily basis.

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    2. I'm also a Christian who experienced discrimination in a secular group, where it was made VERY clear to me that my views were not valued nor welcomed. I did NOT treat our group as a "missionary field", but my beliefs would come up in natural conversations where we were to share our perspective. I quickly learned that we were only to share IF that perspective did not have a basis in conservative faith. SO. VERY. INTOLERANT. to belong to a group that doesn't truly accept you for the individual that you are. I get it.

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  19. Great post! We have been lucky enough to find a home school co-op that is Christian, but accepting of the fact that we are not. We do not follow any religion, but we want our daughter to be able to make up her own mind, so we love that she is learning about the Bible and the Christian faith. I was joking with my husband that where ever we end up next (we are military), it would be cool if we could find a Buddhist (or Jewish, or Muslim, etc.) home school co-op. What better way for my kiddo to learn about all the different religions?
    Thanks again for this post!

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  20. I wholeheartedly agree! Thank you!

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  21. Of has been suggested that there are "divide and conquer" schemes involved in such schisms as this. Tragic :/
    Personally my own motto has always been, "can't we all just get along?"

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  22. It isn't just Christians who exclude. Secular homeschoolers in my area have made it quite plain that Christians need not apply to their groups, and when you are with them, you have to hide your beliefs from them or they will shun you and exclude you.

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  23. This just happened to me this week. Your post made me feel better. Thank you!!!

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  24. To the comment "in defense of Christians..." Exactly. Because Jesus preached that there must be a separation between people...that only certain people should be loved and welcomed, whilst others should be avoided. But at least you probably do understand where the Muslim extremists are coming from, huh? Btw, I was raised R Catholic (I'm mostly Italian), became a Christo-Pagan later in life, and have been married to my Islamic husband for 24 years. And one of my grandfathers was a Russian Jew, whilst the other was an Orthodox Palestinian. Proof that we all CAN get along if we actually remember the number one rule: love one another.

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  25. This is awesome to read!!! I just got kicked out of our local homeschool co-op group for starting drama. Want to know my drama? I ASKED THE ONLY DIRECTOR/LEADER ABOUT PROTOCOL BECAUSE I KNEW IT WAS NOT BEING FOLLOWED AND AN INCIDENT OCCURRED AS A RESULT!!! Yep, that is it. I have 3 teens who are out of their Chemistry credit, and I was teaching Speech, that's my degree, and my 30+ students are out their favorite teacher....their words, not mine. Although those comments made my heart smile on this gloomy day. I demanded a copy of the forms I signed and was immediately blocked from ALL of the sites and the leaders' Facebook. That was her way of telling me I was dismissed of my duties and that my kids and I were kicked out. Then she put a big ol' statement about me on the page. A friend sent me a pic of it.

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  26. It's so funny reading this for me. I'm a progressive person and while my views on spirituality do exist I am totally uncomfortable among the "Christian" homeschool crowd. I agree they're no kind of Christians that I ever read about in the Bible. They're judgey and they shelter their kids. The weirdness they create around the whole idea of homeschool is annoying. But in secular groups of im "found out" as a religious person then I get the boot as well it's bull honkey. We should be able to encourage diversity not hide from it. Sheesh. I hope our kids are more welcoming than our own generation of moms. Welcoming new people and encouraging other moms is so awesome. We need more of that.

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