It’s clear from Monday’s “Three Musketeers” column that they know a lot about American mythology but very little about American history.

Ben Franklin, though a deist, offered his appeal to prayer out of his own sense of despair. The convention, which lasted nearly four months, was contentious throughout and it weighed heavily on the 81-year-old. He ended his speech by suggesting prayer be offered every morning and that “the Clergy of the city be requested to officiate in that service.”

Following a second, Alexander Hamilton and others spoke against the motion, after which Edmund Randolph suggested that a single sermon be preached to the convention on July 4, Independence Day.

Franklin seconded this motion. However, delegates then sought to bury the motion by adjourning for the day, which they did, without ever voting on Franklin’s original motion.

The fact is, the convention never voted on the motion, and Franklin noted this himself in his own handwriting.

Appearing in both John Bigelow’s “The Works of Benjamin Franklin” and in Max Farrand’s “Records of the Federal Convention,” Franklin wrote, “The convention, except three or four persons, thought prayer unnecessary.”

The whole idea that religion played a central role in the Constitutional Convention is a canard. Religion appears only once in the Constitution, in the third and last clause of Article 6, ending with “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” It’s important to note that where an item appears in the Constitution is second only to what appears. Making note of religion in the last clause of the penultimate article says a lot about the role of religion during the convention.

If, as the Musketeers claim, religion played an important role in the convention, why did the document itself barely refer to it except to exclude it from a role as a qualification for office?

The Musketeers also stated that following Franklin’s proposal, “within a few short weeks our Constitution was miraculously finished.” Ahem. The Constitutional Convention opened on May 25, 1787, and concluded on Sept. 17. Franklin’s proposal was made before July 4. A few short weeks indeed.

I propose a reason why the Musketeer’s interpretation of events can’t be trusted.

First, they obviously have a political agenda that transcends facts.

Secondly, they write in an adversarial style. Anyone who has taken a debate class knows that in an adversarial setting you present only information that supports your case while excluding information that tends to repudiate it. This method has winning as it’s ultimate goal, not finding the truth.

You want truth, do your own research.

John Koloen lives in Galveston.

(49) comments

Carlos Ponce

Benjamin Franklin delivered this famous speech, asking that the Convention begin each day's session with prayers, at a particularly contentious period, when it appeared that the Convention might break up over its failure to resolve the dispute between the large and small states over representation in the new government. The eighty one year old Franklin asserted that "the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth--that God governs in the Affairs of Men." "I also believe," Franklin continued, that "without his concurring Aid, we shall succeed in this political Building no better than the Builders of Babel." Franklin's motion failed, ostensibly because the Convention had no funds to pay local clergymen to act as chaplains.

Lars Faltskog

One theory could simply be that Franklin, as an elderly person, was personally drawing closer to God. Once one begins to see his/her mortality on the horizon, it's natural to gravitate toward dieties and god(s). Now, should personal feelings and beliefs such as these be yardsticks for the formation of government? Probably not.

Franklin's and the "founding fathers'" personal feelings toward religion are just that - personal. When one conducts personal and commercial business, he/she is free to think and feel in regard to his/her religious beliefs. It's when you impose it on the organization is where the complications ensue. I don't think our country has ever been convinced that the founding fathers wanted to begin a religiously-driven nation. Why do I think that? Because we're still debating over it some 250 some-odd years later.

Carlos Ponce

Our Founding Fathers knew that this nation would be built on a Judeo-Christian foundation and that concept was taken for granted. One of the first actions taken up by Congress was to publish bibles. Source: Library of Congress:
What they did not want was one particular sect taking preferential treatment over another. Well that has happened. The sect "Human Secularism" has taken the helm driving the traditional religions into the woodwork.

PD Hyatt

Only a fool says in their heart that there is no God.... And for the ones who don't believe there will be a day of reckoning in which you will believe that there is a God....

Curtiss Brown

I don't need government to endorse my beliefs. Why do you? Does your faith require government to tell you its truth? If so, in my opinion, you do not have faith.

Carlos Ponce

I don't want government to endorse my beliefs. What I want is the United States Government to obey their own laws.
First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Seems that the courts stress the establishment clause but ignore the free exercise clause. A boy was told not to read his Bible during free time at school because it violates the Constitution. I say the school violated the Constitution, not the boy.

Curtiss Brown

And, Carlos, you would be absolutely right. Kids can pray any time they want to. You can't disturb the class, but that is true of lots of actions. Silent prayer cannot be stopped. Nor should it be stopped.

So don't worry about your example. It wasn't constitutional.

Lars Faltskog

I agree with you on this, carlosrponce. On a personal level, if a child is not engaged in the teacher's instruction, that is, if child is free on his/her own to read, then he/she should be able to read. Or, should be able to pray, et cetera. The school, telling the boy he couldn't read the Bible during school was out of line.

I am a believer that anyone, especially young, who finds interest in something to read (just about anything), then he/she has a "leg up" on the habit of reading and acquiring vocabulary/phraseology. Now, the exception is something like Penthouse. They can wait for things like that later, for goodness sake [wink]

George Croix

Normally, one needs to 'follow the money'...
In this case, simply 'look at the money'.
Not many people inscribe their currency with something they feel has no relevance, and in which they do not believe.
Not a single nation on the planet would call American currency 'myth', nor any personal holders of it destroy it to eliminate the 'myth', but just about everybody ignores as many facts as need be to make a point they want to make...[wink][wink][wink]

Kevin Lang

Are you saying that our bills and coins are religious documents?

George Croix

I'm saying the influence of religion on whomever decided to use In God We Trust on the legal tender of the land is undeniable.
What do you suppose the origin of said trust in God is?
A dream caused by too many burritos with hot sauce....?
Maybe the Founders, in referring to 'our Creator' were referring to some lab tech with an artificial insemination tube...
Or perhaps spontaneous life...


Kevin Lang

I think the founding fathers were quite aware of the role that religion plays in society, and the hearts, minds, and souls of its members. They did not feel that Government should be interfering in that. Government should respect its role in society, and that role does not include telling people when, where, whether, or how to worship. Let people manage their spiritual lives, while government manages the laws.

George Croix

Reminder to anyone needing it:
The Constitution gives freedom OF religion.
NOT freedom FROM it....

That latter desire is very 'progressive'...

Kevin Lang

But, put a Koran in the hall of the courthouse, and let's hear the screams ring out from the mouths that say that Muslims should shut up about having a Bible there.

Lars Faltskog

Response to kevjlang posted at 9:23 am on Thu, Apr 10, 2014:

To many folks, money is their "god". I'm no currency expert and certainly no historian, but coins, I believe, came before bills. In the 1830s, before the Civil War, was when they 1st addressed placing "God" on coins. By the Civil War, religious sentiment grew even more and by 1864-65 the motto "in God we trust" was placed on 2-cent coins. So, the "founding fathers" of the 1700s weren't part of the process of putting "in God we trust" on coins/bills.

A simple timeline could illustrate this. I'm sure history teachers would be glad to make one.

Curtiss Brown

The Myth remains strong.
The politically correct continue to reign.


I can't help but smile, and shake my head. lolololol. It amazes me that an individual can believe in a "Founding Father" he has NEVER SEEN,...yet cannot believe in God of the universe, or cannot even believe in Noah and what happened to the fools who relentlessly teased him and mocked him,..also whom they have never seen.
Mr. Hyatt,
Good word sir! Be not discouraged though,...for a time of accountability and reckoning is on the way.
II Tim.3:12
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
Finally I will say this to encourage you, and all those who stand up for the Lord,....they use to burn us at the stake, they use to feed us to wild, ferocious animals with smiles on our faces too. They use to persecute us relentlessly and throw us in jails, for standing up for Christ,....but we are still standing! We will always stand, through the darkness, through the night,..through the storms of life, because we have a divine anchor who will never desert us nor leave us,...ON THIS SIDE OF ETERNITY OR THE NEXT!
I feel good today!!! Ahhhhh,.. I Ahhhh ...I said I feel good TODAY!!!!!! Amen!
One more thing! I'm still in the "Go Ye" program ( Matthew 28:19 ) the Lord has set up for the church, called the Ministry Of Reconciliation ( II Corinthians 5:18-19 ) I will continue to pray( I Tim 2:4 ) that all men be saved and come into the knowledge of the truth (Jesus)....and I will speak on His behalf every chance I get! I figure, that is the least I can do, after all He has done for me.
See down the line on another thread!! My work is done here on this one!

Lars Faltskog

Response to Jbgood posted at 10:57 am on Thu, Apr 10, 2014:

Didn't in Salem they burned so-called "witches" at the stake because they weren't considered God-fearing Christians? A lot of stake burning, wars, oppression and killings are done in the name of religion.

So, yes, gecroix, we do have in this country a form of "freedom from religion". However, in our beginnings, we did a terrible job of following through the concept. We failed to use the tenet when folks utilized oppression toward grouops if THEIR religion didn't gel with the dominant "majority" religion. History in this country was wrought with religious, cultural oppression. The Irish, Chinese were oppressed due to their religion and very high numbers. Before that, Native Americans who weren't Christians - oppressed, obliterated. Down in Mexico, the Christian missionaries pummeled many of the indigenous societies. Settlers there had to vow to be "Christian" if they were to survive. Thus, they established the San Patricio section near Northern Mexico.

Yes, without "freedom of religion", a lot more groups would continue to be oppressed or run out of region/country.

Steve Fouga

I think John Koloen's article is beautifully written, interesting, and thought-provoking. I also believe the Three Musketeers play fast and loose with the facts from time to time -- but I often find their columns interesting as well.

All that said, it doesn't matter exactly what was on Ben Franklin's mind. I think we can all agree that somewhere along the line our country became at least somewhat "officially" religion-driven, and then evolved to something more "officially" secular.

Isn't the question whether our country is better or worse off now that we're in the midst of this secular period? And then, whether it's better or worse off because of it?

George Croix


Evolution is just another form of change.
It, too, can have bad consequences, as well as good...
I'm still waiting on any of the good ones from secularization to show up...

Kevin Lang

I'm still waiting to hear the explanation of why there is no such thing as morality without Christianity. I wonder how Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome survived even 5 minutes without Christianity. Perhaps having impeccable morals and being a Christian will get you a little farther in the afterlife, but within a human government, the impeccable morals are plenty. The constitution gives no one extra credit for being a Christian.

Blaming secularism just another way of telling the criminals that it's not their fault that they have no moral compass. We let them down by not making them pray in class.

I'm waiting for something I can sink my teeth into on how the lack of School Prayer has turned so many to a life of crime.

Carlos Ponce

Egypt fell and is falling today, Greece and Rome fell but their religions were replaced by a form of Christianity. Having impeccable morals will get you no further than any run of the mill sinner in Heaven. Having Christ as your Savior who died for your sins will. There is only one person in history who is sinless -Yeshua whom most in this part of the planet call Jesus. And criminals are not blameless. Somewhere in their lives, perhaps even in a GDN forum, they will encounter truth thrust in front of them. At that point they will either accept or reject. That is why several of us continue and repeat the message; we are all sinners bound for Hell but Christ died on the Cross for our sins. ""For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Lars Faltskog

Yeaaah!! Linus said that in "It's A Charlie Brown Christmas". LMAO

Carlos Ponce

There's wisdom in that little cartoon! But he did not say that in "A Charlie Brown Christmas", he actually quoted Luke 2: 8-14
And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Hosts praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and good will toward men.
That’s what Christmas is all about, sverige Brown.

Kevin Lang

The Holy Roman Empire fell, too. A Christian Monarchy. Colonial Spain and Portugal were Christian Monarchies, too, and they fell. Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome survived much longer than we have. If the loss of prayer in the schools has been able to run us into the ground within a quarter to half century, how did either of those ancient civilizations last centuries?

I cannot, and will not argue against the role of religion for developing the hearts and souls of people. However, prayer is not the linchpin to religion. You can pray all you want, but if you have terrible morals and behavior, the prayer isn't going to get you far. At some point, God is going to quit forgiving you for taking out brass knuckles on the chubby kid down the street.

Carlos Ponce

kevjlang, the monarchies fell but Christianity survives to almost 2000 years later. Prayer in public schools was just one link in the chain but see what happens when it is removed. If you have terrible morals and behavior your prayers are heard but not acted upon. God will forgive an infinite number of times, however. Remember Jesus forgave those who crucified Him, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Kevin Lang

Christianity wasn't enough to transcend what was going on within the rest of society or the world around them. If they had tended to all of those other factors, their societies might still exist today.

30 seconds in class isn't going to fix anything that isn't being enforced during the remaining 86,370 seconds of the day. You want to attack the mole hill while the missile silo is rising beside you. The kids that are already well-behaved don't need the prayer to make them behave. The kids that aren't behaving are just going to see that 30 seconds as a waste of time that they just might be using to plan their next act of mischief.

George Croix

And who was ever MADE to pray in class in public school?
But, yes, we HAVE let people down by not ALLOWING them to pray in class, to express a faith in something. Something besides a secular government.
Childhood is where people form social skills, with it's attendant desirable trait of respect for others. All NOT allowing children to exercise their faith has done is shown too many of them that there's no need for respect of the beliefs of others. They can just complain, and the others have to shut up and be retsrained in their faith, lest the few be offended.
It would be interesting to do a survey of prisons and prisoners, and see how many in there are religous, and how many secular.
If the former, then our side's argument might need to be revisited. If the latter, perhaps a bit less flippancy by the opposition might be in order...
Care to place a bet...[wink]

Kevin Lang

30 seconds during home room is going to make people respect each other? 30 seconds out of 6-8 hours per day? If they aren't learning the value of respect during the other 23 hours, 59 minutes, and 30 seconds of the day, 30 seconds doesn't matter.

What the courts have shut down is the school's leading the prayer. Letting the kids have a few moments to quietly say their own prayers is perfectly legitimate.

When I was in school, we didn't have prayer time. We did have 6-8 hours per school day where we were expected to respect our teachers, follow the rules, answer when called on, and be respectful of each other in class and on the playground. Generally, we did just that. Not because we might go to Hades later, but because we'd first have to deal with the Principal, and then, later, with our parents. The lack of respect and good behavior started well before the courts ruled against school prayer, and as long as people want to blame it all on the loss of prayer, rather that solve the real problem, then we'll continue to watch it get worse.

George Croix

Make? No.
Facilitate - yes. It's just another step in the process - another example of the right way to act in the presence of others.
Did somebody blame 'all' on the absence of paryer in school?
It's just one thing that can make a positive difference that has been removed effectively by the folks who like to talk a good game of 'tolerance', but only if it's incoming, not outgoing.
If you remove one tailight from an automobile, you've still had a negative impact on the safety of the vehicle, though other features may still eb workable.
No reason to go to absolutes...

Kevin Lang

Do you want me to tell the story about a man that was a well-respected member of his church, even leading Bible Study and Sunday School classes? He's been sitting in prison for a number of years, with quite a few left to go, for multiple rapes, many of them aggravated. I don't think his behavior was because he wasn't given enough time to pray.

The 9-11 hijackers would have prayed 5 times per day.

The reduction in demands for discipline seems to be the root-cause of the increase in bad behavior. The bad behavior has accelerated over the past couple of decades--some 30 years after the landmark court decisions on school prayer. Interesting that it took so long for for schools to lose control when something so fundamental was taken away.

Blaming it on secularism to me is just a way to say that we dropped the ball and now we need to find something else to blame it on.

Carlos Ponce

kevjlang, I don't know about the first man, could you give us a name? About the 9-11 Hijackers. They were prying 5 times per day to their god Allah and that says it all. And who has demanded a reduction in discipline? Answer HUMAN SECULARISTS! I started teaching in 1977 and saw the steady deterioration and it was present 30 years ago. As these teachers and administrators and board members retired they were slowly replaced by those brought up in the novus ordo seclorum.

Kevin Lang

Those permissives that you mention are not just secularists. Taking God out of schools does not equate to taking discipline out. Taking discipline out does.

The man I was referring to will remain private.

Curtiss Brown

Just don't be standing in front of the Federal Courthouse steps when the first public school teacher leads her class in the "Hail Mary."

Kevin Lang

Fix the morals and the behavior, and I'm sure we'll find that prayer will take it's rightful place in everyone's lives.

Lars Faltskog

I think we need to extrapolate from the debate as to whether lack of religion is the cause of societal downfall. One way to do that is to consider these simple equations:

religion = morality . Or, in other words: "Only if you have a religion, will you acquire morality." Or, "Without religion, you will have no morals."

If the above were only that simple. I think if we could easily make the above connection, then all of us would spend every waking moment making sure that we, our children, friends, neighbors, and relatives spend our eternal existence in exercising our religion. That way, all of the world's ills would be eradicated.

It's not that simple. There are many religious folks who do heinous things. Religion ≠ Morality

George Croix

Looks like a good place to start that 'fix' of morals and behavior is with the type of folks who think the secular Occupiers are just dandy, with their lawbreaking and crime, but the Tea Party, with American flags flying and family/children in tow, is the spawn of hell.
A few exceptions are to be found in both groups, of course.
But the main message of each is clear even to Melon Chitlin...
But, HOW to fix such characters, at least the ones volunteering, not the ones being paid to show up for 'spontaneous protests' and handed a sign. How to keep that type of folks better 'occupied' for the betterment of the country?
Well...I'm at a loss...
I'd have to say that they can't be fixed... [wink][wink]

George Croix

Did somebody blame 911 on lack of prayer allowed in school?
Or suggest that a moment of prayer by a student would stop crime?
I must have missed it/them.
But, I only have two hands to catch with...[smile]

Kevin Lang

As far as suggesting that a moment of prayer would make a difference, why yes, yes indeed. The loss of school prayer is the most significant form of secularism added to the schools during our lifetimes. Most of us went through all or most of our public educations without organized prayer. Somehow, very few of us went on to be a 9/11 bomber or ax murderer, or serial rapist or whatever.

But, I guess if you want to maintain that secularism is what destroyed our society, so be it. I'm not buying it, but, heck, in the spirit of democracy, I'll go along with the majority. You, Carlos, JBG, and Paul Hyatt have me out-numbered. Let's make sure those kids are praying everyday so that we can fix the crime and disrespect problems. Or, at least put that token drop in the bucket so we can at least say we tried. Give us a medal for trying, too.

Maybe our next generation will be willing to try a novel approach at resolving the bad behavior situation and maybe attack the bad behavior, only to realize that we fixed it by merely instituting school prayer.

George Croix

We're talking about how the end of classroom allowed prayer can lead to bad morals and behavior, and you make a quantum leap to 911 bombing, ax murders, and serial rape.
Granted, those are immoral and bad behavior, but don't you think your hyperbole is just a TAD extreme?
All or nothing is a fast way to end up with nothing...
Secularism has certainly not helped our society in any way at all.
However, it has not destroyed it.
We still have the makings of a comeback, just not with secularists, and/or 'progressives', in the lead.
THOSE are the pathtakers to further rack, then ruin...

Raif Smith

I attended public schools for 14 years. There was never a prayer.

If parents think their childs' day should began with a prayer, do so at home.

Prayer belongs in private or at a place of worship. Not in the public domain.

Carlos Ponce

I attended public schools from 1961 to 1973. Back in the day it only took us 12 years to graduate, no Kindergarten, no Pre-K. Elementary school was at Danforth Elementary in Texas City ISD. We started the day with the Lord's Prayer. We sang religious songs in music class. We celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. The teacher knew which students were non-Christian and they were given the opportunity to opt out out "Christian" activities. Prayer in junior high and high school was there but usually reserved for special occasions and assemblies, before football games and at graduation. Why?
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20

Raif Smith

Twelve years of Elementary thru high school. Six years at Gilbert Elementary and one year at Florence Jr. High in Florence, Ala. One year at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va. One year at Falls Church High and three years at McLean High School in Fairfax County, Va. This was from 1946-1958. Two years at Galveston Colledge. All the schools had taxing districts, so in my mind, all were public schools

I don't remember prayer at any school, except graduation in 1958. Nor do I remember prayer before any sporting event.

I DO remember that any lack of respect or good behaviour was dealt with by my father.

My parents also took us to church on Sundays. Sunday school and, service in the morning, training union and service in the evening. Public schools had no part in my religous education.

Did not Jesus say when you pray go in your closet and do so in private? Was he not referring to public praying?[smile]


I tell young people who I mentor all the time, to beware of SATAN and his people who wander up and about, because they are well able to twist truth around in order to make their point,.. to justify their behavior, or lifestyles.
However, The Holy Spirit, not to be out done, has his people MORE ready and qualified to get the job done,..because HE is a witness who gives us revelation whenever needed!
Years ago, one of Satan's people confronted the TRUTH in a courtyard and tried to make a fool out of HIM, not knowing that he ( Pilate ) was a fool for standing there asking a question he knew nothing about. Satan's people are still doing it today!
John 18:37-38

37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.
Poor guy he was standing there talking to the TRUTH and still had the gall and audacity to ask, What is truth? See, the blind leading the blind has been around for years!
John 14:6
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I'm so glad I could share this with everybody. My job here is finished, I'll see yall maybe on another interesting thread! Hi Yo Silverrrrrrr!!! JBG has exited the building!

Lars Faltskog

Response to gecroix posted at 3:19 pm on Fri, Apr 11, 2014:

Well, gecroix, just because a family claims they are Tea party, Christian, patriotic and flag waving with children in tow doesn't mean they are truly good people or bad people. Being Christian, waving flags, and having cute children in tow are simply images portrayed that may bring the illusion of a group having morals and all-American values.

Then again, the leading member of the family waving flags with cute chidren in tow could be a Mob leader, murderer, and/or pedofiler.

A family with its leader who happens to be an Athiest, currently has a gay partner as the other "daddy" of his children, and being members of the democratic party could very well be loving, law-abiding members of the human race.

Curtiss Brown

"Musketeers bought into an American myth" guest column was one of the best and most clearly thought out guest column since Dan Freeman's column.

Leonce Thierry

Thank you, John Koloen for writing this article. I am honored to be your next-door neighbor!

Curtiss Brown

No one has banned prayer in school. Students in any school, like you at any job, can pray silently all day long if they wish. As long as they don't disrupt instruction any student in any school can pray and read the Bible or the Koran for that matter.

Carlos Ponce

Jessica Cross of Dearborn Heights said her 8-year-old son Jason would take his Bible to school to read during a free period. He was eventually told that book is "only for church, not school". January 24, 2014
10-year-old student Luke Whitson of the Knox County School District used his regularly scheduled recess time to read the Bible with a few friends on his school’s playground. After receiving a complaint from a parent, the principal of Karns Elementary School ordered the students to stop their activity, put their Bibles away and cease from bringing them to school.
The Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit to overturn a ban on handing out Bibles in public schools in Florida's Collier County. The school district had previously allowed a group known as World Changers to give bibles to students during off-school hours on Religious Freedom Day. However, The Orlando Sentinel reported officials later changed their minds, saying the bibles don't provide any educational benefit, so World Changers were told they could not distribute the bibles even though acceptance by any student was voluntary.
I agree that students should be allowed to pray and read the Bible as long as does not disrupt instruction but some people haven't got the message.

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