Homosexuality, hatred

For a long time, opponents of same-sex marriage — and gay rights in general — have managed to put a friendly face on their efforts.

With the exception of a few zany  whackos, like the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, the message has been “hate the sin, love the sinner.”

The public image has been one of healing, of redemption, and of dialogue.  And for many conservative Christians, that’s an accurate and fair portrait.

A lot of people who struggle with the idea of gay marriage aren’t bigots.  They’re grappling reasonably and earnestly with a major societal shift.

But privately, away from the mainstream conversation, the tone of the anti-homosexual movement has been far more toxic, often straying from the territory of legitimate culture war difference into the realm of pure bigotry.

That darker vein been exposed recently, due to an effort by gay and progressive advocates to “out” conservative religious leaders who advocate violence, hatred and repression of gays and lesbians in their communities.

The latest painful episode is a recording made of a sermon at the Independent Baptist Church in Oakland, Maryland, where Pastor Dennis Leatherman acknowledged to his congregation a desire to eradicate gays.

“First of all, there is a danger of reacting in the flesh, of responding not in a scriptural, spiritual way, but in a fleshly way,” Leatherman preached.

“Kill them all. Right? I will be very honest with you. My flesh kind of likes that idea, but it grieves the Holy Spirit. It violates Scripture. It is wrong.”

This follows on the release of audio of a sermon delivered by Curtis Knapp, pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church in Seneca, Kansas, who goes a step further, defending the idea of killing gays.

“They should be put to death — that’s what happened in Israel.  That’s why homosexuality wouldn’t have grown in Israel.  It tends to limit conversions.  It tends to limit people coming out of the closet,” Knapp argued.

He goes on to insist that scripture actually supports the idea of government-backed extermination of gays and lesbians.

“Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them? No, I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should.”

These aren’t isolated incidents, nor are they limited to tiny, fringe churches.  North Carolina pastor Charles L. Worley of the Providence Road Baptist Church, responding to President Barack Obama’s support of gay  marriage, offered his view last month that gays should be quarantined in special ghettos.

“I figured out a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers but I couldn’t get it passed the Congress.  Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there,” Worley suggests.  “Fly over and drop some food.  Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can’t get out…and you know what, in a few years, they’ll die out.  Do you know why? They can’t reproduce!”

His congregation responds with a hearty Amen, particularly when Pastor Worley describes Mr. Obama as “a babykiller and a homosexual lover.”

This is ugly stuff.  And it’s healthy that the scab is being pulled off so that conservative and traditionalist Americans, in particular, can grapple with the vein of hatred, fear and ignorance that shapes this debate.

Perhaps the most disturbing image in this new series of “outings” is video of a little boy in the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle Church in Indiana.  In a sweet, innocent voice, he sings “ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven.”

The congregation stands, applauds and cheers wildly.  It’s fair to debate what this kind of thing represents, but it sure isn’t Christian love.

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66 Comments on “Homosexuality, hatred”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    What all of the above stupid remarks indicate is – well – stupidity. How dumb can some people be?
    Fact of the matter is that 99%, maybe 100%, of all the so called evil in the world is either stupidity or insanity.

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  2. Larry says:

    The real perversion here is that much of the homophobic ranting is done by “religious” leaders. I also hate the fact that these idiots are usually described as “conservative” religious leaders. The conservatism I believe in has no place in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I wish everyone would drop the conservative tag when discussing what is more properly described as the lunatic fringe.

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  3. Most sensible people will denounce this garbage, but the real outrage is this. These religious organizations are all tax exempt, which means the costs the incur (fire, police, etc) are paid for by society at large. Ultimately, this means that gays, women and others are forced to subsidize those dedicated to oppressing them.

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  4. JDM says:

    “With the exception of a few zany whackos”

    That is correct. We will never rid ourselves of the zany whackos. That doesn’t mean every opponent of gay marriage is a zany whacko.

    I think the attempt is being made to paint opponents as extremists. That is no more correct than to paint all muslims as terrorists.

    Most, like 99%, are in the “hate the sin, love the sinner” camp.

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  5. dave says:

    “A lot of people who struggle with the idea of gay marriage aren’t bigots. They’re grappling reasonably and earnestly with a major societal shift.”

    In hindsight, is this how you would describe the people who “struggled” with the idea of slavery, civil rights, and interracial marriage? As people grappling reasonably and earnestly with a societal shift?

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  6. Brian Mann says:

    JDM –

    Conservatives are often very forceful in urging other faiths — Islam, in particular — to be more aggressive in dealing with their zanies and radicals.

    Some of these Christian leaders, saying this ugly stuff, are pretty prominent.

    And I can’t find any significant and concrete effort by Christian groups to convince them to temper their language and teach a different message.

    The truth is that I also hear this kind of hateful stuff more often than I’d like. I don’t think it’s a 1% thing.

    Dave –

    I think the vast majority of people who bought into those ideas (even slavery) were not bigots in any active sense. They weren’t the haters.

    They were just acclimated to a hateful and unacceptable way of life, one that had been “normalized” for a very long time.

    Change is hard and complex and scary, even for basically good people.

    And homosexuality in particular carries a cultural stigma that goes very, very deep.

    I think progressives and liberals tend to undersell the magnitude of the change they’re demanding.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  7. hermit thrush says:

    I think progressives and liberals tend to undersell the magnitude of the change they’re demanding.

    really? did giant craters open up and swallow massachusetts and iowa, and i just missed it? :)

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  8. hermit thrush says:

    The truth is that I also hear this kind of hateful stuff more often than I’d like. I don’t think it’s a 1% thing.

    brian’s absolutely right. this stuff is not a fringe thing. just askric grenell, former national security spokesman for mitt romney who was forced out of the campaign because he’s gay.

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  9. JDM says:

    Brian Mann: “And I can’t find any significant and concrete effort by Christian groups to convince them to temper their language and teach a different message.”

    I think this is true, too. 40 years ago, society, pretty much as a whole, looked at this behavior differently than they do today.

    Individuals, whether or not they profess to be Christian, are having to check their attitudes, because society, as a whole, has shifted position on the issue.

    Whether or not sermons will ever be preached, specifically dealing with the gay issue is hard to say. I don’t think I ever sat through a sermon specifically dealing with racial relations, yet, the message of “love your neighbor as yourself” certainly applies.

    Unfortunately, prejudices die hard. Especially ones that were once enforced by society as a whole.

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  10. The real problem is the confusion between religion and government. Your religion is (or should be) a guide to your personal relationship to God/your creator/all that is, however you conceive it, and your individual morals & behavior. Government is a system or rules we commonly agree on in order to live together in society. Too many fundamentalists or all religious stripes want to make their religion into everyone’s government.

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  11. Ken Hall says:

    JDM: “Most, like 99%, are in the “hate the sin, love the sinner” camp.”

    And the “SIN” is what, not agreeing with you or what your so called “good book” tells you?

    Larry: “I also hate the fact that these idiots are usually described as “conservative” religious leaders.”

    The “fact” that THEY describe themselves as “conservative god fearing people” does not bother you?

    Pete: “How dumb can some people be?”"maybe 100%, of all the so called evil in the world is either stupidity or insanity”.

    Dumb? The way I see it these folks appear to have no problem speaking their minds. Do you consider William Tecumseh Sherman to have been stupid or insane? If you hail from north of the Mason Dixon Line you are more likely to view what Sherman did with his march through the South as a necessary expediency; however, if you hail from south of the MDL you are very likely to consider Sherman and his army as monstrously “evil”.

    As a long time non gay out of the closet “atheist” I find that “EVIL” is a word I virtually never use in speech or print; stupid, monstrous, nasty, murderous, ignorant, ……. yes, evil, no.

    I have worked with and been friends with numerous “gays” of both sexes, some in some out, many readily recognizable as more intelligent than average persons. I wonder if greater intellectual capability is perhaps a subterranean reason that so many “straights” find the gay life style so abhorrent? It has been my experience that one of the last things a religious leader wants in his congregation is someone who is intelligent and questioning.

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  12. JDM says:

    Ken Hall “And the “SIN” is what, not agreeing with you or what your so called “good book” tells you?”

    The latter.

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  13. Terence says:

    I actually find myself agreeing with JDM for once! When he points out at 11:41 that old prejudices die hard. That’s a very sensible analysis.

    It’s probably also true, unfortunately, that some people will always be homophobic, just as some will always be racist: what’s encouraging is the growing consensus that these are unhealthy positions and unacceptable in civil discourse.

    What amazes me about the quotes from pastors Leatherman and Worley, though, is the sheer nastiness of them. How do their congregations reconcile the idea of love and forgiveness with the hatefulness of their leaders?

    Oh, well, back to my fabulous gay lifestyle! The best revenge against small minded people is living happily.

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  14. Peter Hahn says:

    On past civil rights issues (JDM’s racial issue), many of the Christian churches were leading advocates for reform and racial tolerance. And not just the African American Christian churches. Im not sure how the (white) evangelical Christian churches were – especially the southern US based ones, but many of the religious leaders were out front advocating for “civil rights” laws.

    They seem to all be mostly on the wrong side on this one.

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  15. JDM says:

    Peter Hahn: You bring up an interesting point.

    There is a difference between the racial issue (inherent) and gay issue (behavior).

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  16. tootightmike says:

    Peter Hahn, I went to one of those evangelical churches as a kid, and I DO remember. During the riots in nearby cities in the Midwest, our pastor fiercely pounded the podium and screamed “I’M TIRED OF BEING NICE TO THESE NIGGERS!!”. I was probably about 12 years old, but that’s the day I left the church. Many of those people with that kind of an attitude are dead now thankfully. The children of those in the congregation have different views, and their children live in a different world, the views of their grandparents becoming irrelevant.
    Yeah, sometimes it takes a long time.

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  17. Terence says:

    If by ‘behavior’ you mean sex acts, JDM, that’s just a tiny percentage of even the most sexually active person’s life. Most people who call themselves gay were aware of their orientation long before they ever had sex, and consider it an important part of their entire identity. Think about your own orientation: it’s a question of who you fall in love with — an organizing principle for your whole life. By calling it ‘behavior’ you imply that it’s an series of observable actions, rather than a part of what people consider themselves. When homophobic people preach about loving the sinner while hating the sin, that’s the sort of distinction they’re making. To anyone who feels gay — regardless of whether they engage in sex or not — this sounds like a ridiculously convoluted way of saying “You are not acceptable as a person.” Just keep that in mind, please, as lots of well-meaning but mistaken people say what you’re saying above. Peace out.

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  18. hermit thrush says:

    There is a difference between the racial issue (inherent) and gay issue (behavior).

    no there’s not. human sexuality is complicated, but most gay people are born gay, just as most straight people are born straight. most of us don’t get a choice. i know i didn’t. did you, jdm?

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  19. dave says:

    Even if you thought that homosexuality was a choice… which it, of course, is not… how would that make it ok to discriminate against?

    I can tell you what definitely is a choice. Your religion. JDM, is it ok if I denied you basic rights afforded the rest of society based on the religion you have chosen?

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  20. mervel says:

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/southern-baptist-convention-leader-condemns-nc-pastors-anti-gay-remarks-75572/

    The SBC the largest Protestant Church and a church that holds that homosexual relations are sinful has condemned these remarks. Do they go far enough in their condemnation? Maybe not but most Christians roundly condemn this sort of hate.

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  21. JDM says:

    hermit thrush: “most gay people are born gay”

    I disagree. I have seen many people change their choice of sexuality, simply on basis of their will.

    I have never seen someone change their skin color, height, eye color, etc. by willing it to be different.

    dave: I agree, societal rights belong to all who are law abiding, regardless of choices. That is not my point, however. I’m distinguishing inherent traits vs. behavior choice.

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  22. mervel says:

    That is a different topic though.

    I think the issue is a latent almost genocidal view of a group of human beings. It is not Christian and we have to be pretty severe in saying that. I am glad the SBC has been very specific that these guys have nothing to do with them and they condemn these remarks. I don’t know of any large Protestant group that any of these so called churches are a part of.

    The hard part is that within Christianity there are many many small and medium congregations that are just making it up as they go, I think they likely tap into latent biases that of course have nothing to do with our faith and are not part of any larger Christian group.

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  23. Larry says:

    We would all be so much better off if both the government and religious institutions stayed out of everyone’s bedrooms. Who cares how anyone got to be who they are? We are all who we are regardless of how we got there. And by the way, sin is very much a subjective concept. I suggest everyone look after their own behavior vis-a-vis sin.

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  24. Newt says:

    While I don’t pretend to be an expert on the evolution of attitudes toward homosexuality, I think it is usually true that whenever a group emerges from unequal status to claim an equal role in society, it tends to provoke a strong reaction among those for whom social change is always a threat. This was true in the post-Reconstruction South, the Civil Rights Era, the Feminist Revolution (though mostly through resentment and mockery, rather than violence), and gays as they demand and achieve social equality.

    And the only real cure for most of those who are so locked into these ideas is their passing on. Won’t they be surprised to find they are sharing heaven Socrates, Michelangelo, Walt Whitman, and millions more

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  25. Peter Hahn says:

    It is truly amazing though how fast attitudes are changing on this issue.

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  26. hermit thrush says:

    jdm, when millions upon millions of gay people say it’s an “inherent trait” in them, i dunno, i kind of tend to believe them.

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  27. Sunshine says:

    Canton Central School began a gay/straight alliance (GSA) last year. The first meeting aprox. 100 students turned out. Were they all gay? Who cares. The point was: RESPECT. And the students understood that.
    God, as many people imagine her/him, does not single anyone out for special indictment. The Christian Bible, in the Ten Commandments, gives instruction on how we should behave.
    We are taught to love one another as we love ourselves.
    Seems pretty straightforward to me.
    Truly, I have enough work to do on myself to get myself to be the very best person I can be without spending time judging anyone else.
    I do believe it is important to be aware of the ‘hatreds’ in our world, to not buy into them, to, if someone uses hateful language, remind them they need to be respectful of everyone.
    What a wonderful world we live in…in a good part, due to the wide variety of peoples inhabiting it.

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  28. Walker says:

    Newt, there are way more examples of outmoded discrimination than just African-Americans and feminists.

    At various points in American history it was considered acceptable to discriminate against native Americans, the Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, French-Canadians, Chinese, Japanese, Catholics, and Mormons. I’m sure I’ve left many others out. How anyone can witness the history of discrimination in America and not recognize that discrimination itself is outmoded is beyond me.

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  29. Peter Hahn says:

    Outmoded but apparently human nature.

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  30. JDM says:

    hermit thrush: “when millions upon millions of gay people say it’s an “inherent trait” ”

    Is this science by consensus, again? Is the debate on this over?

    If millions upon millions believe something to be true, who needs science, anymore.

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  31. Peter Hahn says:

    JDM – the scientific consensus at this point in time is that it is an “inherent trait”. The evangelical Christian consensus at this point is that it is a “sin” (but love the sinner).

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  32. Peter Hahn says:

    But anything involving sex is going to push a lot of buttons.

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  33. Phil Brown says:

    JDM, you say you know gay people who have changed by force of will. If they need to employ willpower to change, doesn’t that suggest that they are going against their nature? And thus homosexuality is an inherent trait? But you fail to address Dave’s point: even homosexuality is a choice, why condemn it? Why shouldn’t people be free to love or have sex with whomever they please?

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  34. JDM says:

    Phil Brown: “If they need to employ willpower to change, doesn’t that suggest that they are going against their nature?”

    Smoking, overeating, alcohol all come to mind. They are to some extent addictive behaviors, but overcoming them isn’t “going against nature”.

    You cannot will yourself to be an inch taller, however.

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  35. JDM says:

    Peter Hahn: “the scientific consensus”

    I love this. You aptly equated scientific consensus and Christianity. Both require faith, and neither can be proved scientifically.

    Science by faith. I love it.

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  36. Phil Brown says:

    JDM, I figured you’d make an analogy to smoking. But there is a big difference. Kids take up smoking and drinking to fit in. Peer pressure. What would drive a kid to take up homosexuality when such a choice opens him to ridicule, bullying, etc.? What besides a natural inclination? There have been religious conservatives who struggled mightily against their homosexuality without success. How do you explain their struggle?

    Again, even if homosexuality is a choice, why condemn it?

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  37. Peter Hahn says:

    ummm -JDM – I was not equating scientific consensus and Christianity. I was saying that just because a bunch of people believe something doesn’t make it true or a scientific consensus. But if a bunch of scientists believe something, that is a scientific consensus.

    This was in response to your “Is this science by consensus, again? Is the debate on this over?

    If millions upon millions believe something to be true, who needs science, anymore.”

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  38. Peter Hahn says:

    Phil – I think the orthodox religious position is that any sexual activity that isn’t solely intended for procreation is a sin and should be abstained from.

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  39. Phil Brown says:

    Is that JDM’s position? No sex except for procreation? Then why does the Catholic church allow the rhythm method? Or sex at all once the woman is past the age of procreation? What if either the man or wife is infertile? Are they to remain celibate?

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  40. JDM says:

    Phil: “Is that JDM’s position? No sex except for procreation?”

    Nope.

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  41. JDM says:

    Peter Hahn: “But if a bunch of scientists believe something, that is a scientific consensus.”

    hermit thrush said it was “millions upon millions of gay people”.

    Are his gay people and your scientists the same “bunch”?

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  42. Peter Hahn says:

    I think the ancient rule was that if the woman was infertile (it was never the man) then the man was supposed to divorce the wife and marry another.

    Thats a good question about how the Catholic church rationalizes the rhythm method. Someone out there knows the answer I bet.

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  43. Peter Hahn says:

    I think in Biblical days they also had multiple wives so maybe after a woman passed the age of procreation she had to stop having sex, but her husband could continue with the younger wives (as long as it was just for procreation).

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  44. Phil Brown says:

    JDM, you answer the easy questions but are dodging the big one.

    Even if homosexuality is a choice, why condemn it?

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  45. JDM says:

    Here’s the #1 link on Google on the hereditary theory.

    http://www.narth.com/docs/istheregene.html

    How The Public Was Misled

    In July of 1993, the prestigious research journal Science published a study by Dean Hamer which claims that there might be a gene for homosexuality.

    Soon afterward, National Public Radio trumpeted those findings. Newsweek ran the cover story, “Gay Gene?” The Wall Street Journal announced, “Research Points Toward a Gay Gene…Normal Variation.”

    You can finish the article to see how the public was misled.

    Nice how NPR, Time, and WSJ helped out.

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  46. Pete Klein says:

    If gays can by force of will become straight, wouldn’t this mean straights can become gay by force of will?
    But what is probably going on is the following. Probably no one is a 100% straight or gay. Some people are border line one way or the other with most people being predominantly straight or gay. I have no doubt that some people who are mostly straight lead a gay life while some people who are mostly gay lead a straight life and they lead these lives without ever being aware they are not quiet who they believe they are.
    Human beings are very complicated creatures and are not easy to define.

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  47. mervel says:

    Is divorce genetic? Genetics have nothing to do with what we believe as sin or not sin and what we believe is sin has nothing to do with murdering people and thinking it is ok to talk about that openly.

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  48. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    JDM, your top Google link is influenced by your previous searches. Different people can search for an identical topic and get completely different results. It is sort of a reflection of what you want to see.

    This is the top link for hereditary theory when I search google

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heredity

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  49. Peter Hahn says:

    Yes JDM – why don’t you list the sexual activities that you think should be permitted and the ones that shouldn’t and explain the logic.

    Seems to me the current moral standard is “consenting adults”.

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  50. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    This topic is an example of why I have a great deal of hope for the future, because I believe that younger generations have already gotten beyond the ignorance and hate associated with what are currently ‘hot-button” issues. The sooner those generations take the reins of power the better.

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