Disputing Separation Church/State Part 2


Decl of Indep Signger - half Seminarian Grads

By John R. Houk

© March 19, 2014

 

IN 1639, a group of New England Puritans drafted a constitution affirming their faith in God and their intention to organize a Christian Nation. Delegates from the towns of Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield drew up the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, which made clear that their government rested on divine authority and pursued godly purposes. The opening lines express the framers’ trust in God and their dependence on his guidance: “Forasmuch as it hath pleased the All-mighty God by the wise disposition of his divine providence so to Order and dispose of things, . . . [and] well knowing where a people are gathered togather the word of God requires that to mayntayne the peace and vnion of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Government established according to God, to order and dispose of the affayres of the people.” Moreover, the aim of the government so instituted was religious: “to mayntayne and presearue the liberty and purity of the gospell of our Lord Jesus which we now professe, as also the disciplyne of the Churches, which according to the truth of the said gospell is now practised amongst vs.”1 Like their neighbors in Massachusetts Bay, the Connecticut Puritans determined to plant a “Christian Commonwealth,” what Governor John Winthrop hoped would become a “City upon a Hill” that would inspire believers everywhere as a model Christian Nation.2 (The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America; By Frank Lambert; Princeton University Press; © 2003; Excerpt quotes of New England colonial intentions to establish Christian government)

 

In Part One I began refuting dougindeap’s arguments that the Constitution and the U.S. Judiciary have affirmed the principle that the Separation of Church and State was the design of the Founding Fathers in the two-way scenario of keeping the government out of religion and keeping religion as anathema toward touching anything to do with taxpayer money.

 

For reference purposes if you desire to read dougindeap’s essay it as at the end of my thoughts on the post “The Commonality between Leftist Paradigms & Scientific Theories”. In Part One I merely had expounded on dougindeap’s first sentence:

 

Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Constitution, much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances.”

 

I pointed out that the First Amendment in no way demonstrates that religion should be separated from the government but only that the government cannot establish a Religion/Church institution. I then pointed out the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution implied Christian Morality as the foundation of the rule of law:

 

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Bold emphasis mine)

 

I discussed the Christian intonations of the concept of “the general welfare”. I even confronted the miss assertion of Left Wingers that the Founding Fathers were Deists and as such intended the Church to stay out of government. My refutation even if it is true that the majority of the Founding Fathers were Deists, they were Christian Deists placing great stock in Christian Morality as a necessity for a Just and well-ordered society that will thwart anarchy.

 

Now I have to wonder the intentions of the words “secure the blessings of Liberty”. What were the thoughts of the Founding Fathers on the origin of Liberty?

 

“No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts in the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. — Every step, by which they have been advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.” George Washington (Quote found, “SEVEN PRINCIPLES OF LIBERTY: I LIBERTY IS OF DIVINE ORIGIN; By J. David Gowdy; Institute for American Liberty; Copyright © 1996)

 

As far as Liberty is concerned the Founding Fathers in the majority that religion (meaning Christianity in the 1780s) was essential for a virtuous and moral society to remain cohesive in the practice of Liberty or chaos will ensue that will only despotic rule could quell. I found an amazing webpage of Founding Father quotes. Check it out:

 

 

John Adams in a speech to the military in 1798 warned his fellow countrymen stating, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

 

Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration of Independence said. [T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be aid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. Without religion, I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.”

 

Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary said, [T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.”

 

Gouverneur Morris, Penman and Signer of the Constitution. [F]or avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy . . . the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments. [T]herefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God.”

 

Fisher Ames author of the final wording for the First Amendment wrote, “[Why] should not the Bible regain the place it once held as a school book? Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble. The reverence for the Sacred Book that is thus early impressed lasts long; and probably if not impressed in infancy, never takes firm hold of the mind.”

 

John Jay, Original Chief-Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court , “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.”

 

James Wilson, Signer of the Constitution; U. S. Supreme Court Justice, “Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.”

 

Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary stated, “The moral principles and precepts contained in the scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. . . All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”

 

Robert Winthrop, Speaker of the U. S. House, “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”

 

George Washington, General of the Revolutionary Army, president of the Constitutional Convention, First President of the United States of America, Father of our nation, “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.”

 

Benjamin Franklin, Signer of the Declaration of Independence [O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

 

 

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim tribute to patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. . . . reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principles.” George Washington

 

 

“. . . Virtue, morality, and religion. This is the armor, my friend, and this alone that renders us invincible. These are the tactics we should study. If we lose these, we are conquered, fallen indeed . . . so long as our manners and principles remain sound, there is no danger.” Patrick Henry

 

“Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” Patrick Henry

 

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our constitution as a whale goes through a net.” John Adams

 

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams

 

“Liberty can no more exist without virtue and independence than the body can live and move without a soul.” John Adams

 

“Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.” John Adams

 

“[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” John Adams

 

“The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.” John Adams

 

“Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, they may change their rulers and the forms of government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.” John Adams

 

“Honor is truly sacred, but holds a lower rank in the scale of moral excellence than virtue. Indeed the former is part of the latter, and consequently has not equal pretensions to support a frame of government productive of human happiness.” John Adams

 

 

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate — look at his character. It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. But the scriptures teach a different doctrine. They direct that rulers should be men who rule in the fear of God, men of truth, hating covetousness. It is to the neglect of this rule that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, speculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country and which disgrace our government. When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. “Noah Webster

 

“…if the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the Laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizen will be violated or disregarded.” Noah Webster

 

 

“The only foundation for… a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” Benjamin Rush

 

“Righteousness exalteth a nation.” Proverbs 14:34 (Excerpts from: [100+ FREEdom Quotes] The Founding Fathers & Others: LIBERTY REQUIRES VIRTUE —; By Jeff Fenske; ToBeFree; 7/30/11)

 

Out of the mouths of the Founding Fathers. True Liberty exists because of virtue (See Also PDF – “Liberty and Virtue in the American Founding”, 26 pp.). Virtue exists due to the Divine Will of the Creator. Whether Christian or Christian Deist the Founders in the hand of God on his creation. Traditional/Orthodox (orthodox as in the agreed tenants of faith across Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant and any sect holding the basic doctrines of Christ) believe in the Word of God miracles and all. Christian Deists believe a Personal God created the rules for Nature to exist. Either way, morality stems from the Creator.

 

So yes, Part Two is more of a list of quotations rather than a treatise on Church/State separation. Nonetheless it is important to perceive that the Founding Fathers did not believe that the Christianity stay out of government. The Founders were only concerned in the government controlling Christianity at the expense of the Liberty of individuals’ civil rights.

 

End Part Two

 

 

JRH 3/19/14

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Disputing Separation Church/State Part 1


Embarkation of the Pilgrims. by Robert Walter Weir

John R. Houk

© March 18, 2014

 

On May 13 I posted some thoughts entitled “The Commonality between Leftist Paradigms & Scientific Theories”. The thoughts were inspired by one of those misguided people that sincerely believe the U.S. Constitution separates Church and State to the extent that not only is the State prohibited to interfere in religion (religion = Christianity in 1780s), but also that We the People (i.e. the voters) are prohibited from both injecting Christian morality into a limited government AND that government is prohibited from allowing any public institution, policy or building supported by taxpayer money to be used for religious purposes.

 

At the end of my thoughts I posted an edited version of the comments giving it the title “Comment to: Returning to a Christian Moral Stand will Perpetuate the USA”. The (unedited version) comment was posted on my NeoConservative Christian Right (NCCR) blog. The commenter attributed to himself an obvious pseudonym – dougindeap.

 

So this is what I am going to do. I am going to make the effort to refute dougindeap’s assertions a bit at a time.  This undoubtedly will result in several parts to come close to refuting dougindeap.

 

The first paragraph has many of those assertions which are skewed by half-truths and downright inaccuracies.

 

Separation of church and state is a bedrock principle of our Constitution, much like the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances.”

 

This above assertion is absolutely FALSE. Separation of powers as well as government Branch checks and balances are specifically enumerated in the Constitution. There is ABSOLUTELY no enumeration of the so-called separation of Church-State in the Constitution EXCEPT the enumeration that Congress can make NO law to establish a State religion (meaning Christian Church in the 1780s) and prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

 

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. (Bold emphasis mine)

 

For simple understanding’s sake let me rehash what is often referred to as the Establishment Clause. Congress specifically, cannot enact legislation that makes a Christian Church a tax supported State institution. The separation is specifically one-way! Congress is to stay out of the religion-church business. There is no specified prohibition for Christian Churches to be a moral influence on government. In fact the Constitution’s Preamble should be used as a guiding principle in constitutional interpretation (Hello SCOTUS):

 

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. (Bold emphasis mine)

 

Here is a definition of the meaning of the thought general welfare” from The Free Dictionary:

 

The concern of the government for the health, peace, morality, and safety of its citizens.

 

Providing for the welfare of the general public is a basic goal of government. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution cites promotion of the general welfare as a primary reason for the creation of the Constitution. Promotion of the general welfare is also a stated purpose in state constitutions and statutes. The concept has sparked controversy only as a result of its inclusion in the body of the U.S. Constitution. (Bold emphasis mine)

 

The Free Dictionary listing for “general welfare” goes from the broad meaning found in the Preamble to a specific context carried on from Article 1 Section 8. The essay’s context from Article one is the dispute about States’ Rights versus the power of the Federal government pertaining to taxation. That is beyond the scope of what we are looking at here, but it is interesting to note that The Free Dictionary cites a SCOTUS decision tipping the scale to the Federal government 150 years after the Constitution was enacted. In the matter of taxing and spending the SCOTUS chose the Hamilton argument over the Madison argument meaning the Federal government won. It is my opinion that an interpretation of the Constitution that took a 150 years to find solidification is something that needs a bit more stare decisis to make the Hamilton argument such as the Federal government trumping State’ Rights to be cast in stone.

 

THUS the Original Intent of the Founding Fathers understanding of the general welfare included morality. Since the Founding Fathers’ milieu was the 1760s through and a bit beyond the 1790s their concept of morality was not based on a Secular Humanism devoid of God and God the Creator’s morality established in the Bible.

 

This is where Left Wingers would dispute my assertion that Christian morality was the norm with the popular humanist theology of the Founding Fathers’ day called deism. What Left Wingers fail to include in their arguments screaming that most of the Founding Fathers were deists is that America had one form of deism and Europe (specifically the French of their Revolution) had a deism more akin to Anti-Christian morality.

 

American deists were Christians in practice but not big believers in Biblical miracles that the science of their day may explain as impossible. I found an article that is actually balanced in its outlook on the faith of the Founding Fathers providing a good explanation of the Founders’ Deism and the absolute Deism that flowed from the French.

 

…  [T]here are those who argue that because our Founding Fathers were devoted Christians who held to an orthodox Christian faith, the state and the church in America are already linked together, and that if America as a nation loses its uniquely Christian flavor, the church will fail in its task as well. They see America as a unique country that holds a special place in God’s plan for reaching the world. Additionally, they argue that we enjoy God’s special protection and blessings because of this Christian founding, blessings which will be lost if Christians lose control of the nation.

At the other end of the religious and political spectrum is the group who portray America and its founding as a thoroughly secular project. They argue that by the time the Revolution had occurred in the colonies, Enlightenment rationalism had won the day in the minds and hearts of the young nation’s leaders. They often add that the drive towards religious tolerance was the result of a decline in belief in God and an attempt to remove religious influence from America’s future.

 

For all those involved in this debate, the specific beliefs of our Founders are very important. Those who argue that America was founded by godless men who established a godless Constitution are, for the most part, wrong. Belief in God was practically universal among our Founding Founders. On the other hand, those who argue that our Founders were mostly devoted Christians who sought to establish a Christian nation devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ are not giving us the full picture either. Because both sides in this debate tend to define America by the religious faith of our Founders, both sides tend to over-simplify the religious beliefs of those early patriots.

 

It’s important, therefore, to consider the specific beliefs of some of our Founding Fathers so that we might get a clearer picture of religion in that era and avoid either of the two extremes usually presented. As we look into the actions and words of specific Revolutionary era leaders we will find that their beliefs represent a mixture of READ THE REST (Deism and America’s Founders; By Don Closson; Probe Ministries; © 2008)

 

Then there is a French deism which is Anti-Christian in its tenants and leans toward atheism. Most of the articles I read seem to credit Voltaire bringing a form of English Deism to France.

 

Deism entered France, but only its materialistic and revolutionary phases were seized upon, to the exclusion of religious values which had never been lost in England or America. French Deism stood outside of theology and laid the groundwork for atheism, secular humanism, and cultural relativism. American Deists were mainly influenced by English Deism and perhaps French Deist Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

 

Michel de Montaigne is the father of moral and cultural relativism. It argues (falsely in my opinion) that all cultures be it cannibals in mud huts or Paris are equal because they rest on cultural habit rather than absolute truth. Who are Europeans to insist that Brazilian cannibals who merely consume dead human flesh instead of wasting it are morally inferior to Europeans who persecute and oppress those of whom they disapprove? This would also apply to morals as well: If we cannot be certain that our values are God-given, then we have no right to impose them by force on others. Thus homosexually, abortion, sex with animals, sex with children, etc. are a private matter that society has no right to regulate or interfere with.

 

French Deism was anti-Catholic and anti-religious in general, shading into skepticism, atheism, and materialism. When people speak of Deism today they often think of French Deism, which has little in common with English/American Deism which was known often as Unitarianism. While Deism began in England and influenced Voltaire, he would strip away all of the religious aspects. (Voltaire’s Deism; From Sullivan-county.com; Web site Copyright Lewis Loflin, All rights reserved.)

 

French Deist Rousseau in contrast to Voltaire was not quite anti-religion; however Rousseau thought society exists best with a State religion that is not Christian but adheres to what he felt was a natural morality inherent in humankind. Hello State control of people and an absence of personal Liberty.

 

J. J. Rousseau (1712 – 1778) gave quite a different tendency to Deism. Accepting in the main the sensualism of Locke and the metaphysics of Clarke and Newton, he maintains after the manner of Shaftesbury and Diderot a belief in inborn moral instincts which he distinguishes as “sentiments” from mere acquired ideas; he is true to the position of Deism in connecting this moral “sentiment” with a belief in God, and he protests against the separation between the two which the skepticism of Diderot had brought about. He was influenced by Richardson, as well as by Locke.

 

“Sentiment” becomes the basis of a metaphysical system built up out of the data of experience under the influence of the Deistic philosophy, but redeemed from formalism by constant reference to sentimentality and emotion as the principal sources of religion. The nature of religion is not dogmatic but moralistic, practical, and emotional. Rousseau, therefore, finds the essence of religion, not (like Voltaire) in the cultivated intellect, but in the naive and disinterested understanding of the uncultured. Conscious, rational progress in civilization, no less than supernaturalism in Church and State, is an outcome of the fall, when the will chose intellectual progress in preference to simple felicity.

 

With Rousseau natural religion takes on a new meaning; “nature” is no longer universality or rationality in the cosmic order, in contrast to special supernatural and positive phenomena, but primitive simplicity and sincerity, in contrast to artificiality and studied reflection.

In his scheme of the rise of religions he gets out from the common standpoint of the discrepancies and contradictions prevailing among historic creeds. Yet positive religion to him is not so much the product of ignorance and fear as the corruption of the original instinct through the selfishness of man, who has erected rigid creeds that he might arrogate to himself unwarranted privilege or escape the obligations of natural morality.

 

 

Note that freedom as Rousseau defines it has nothing to do with individual liberty. Rousseau’s views on society are very influential on the political left/liberalism since the 1960s. To quote another source:

 

Man is by nature good; society is the cause of corruption and vice.

 

In a state of nature, the individual is characterized by healthy self-love; self-love is accompanied by a natural compassion.

 

In society, natural self-love becomes corrupted into a venal pride, which seeks only the good opinion of others and, in so doing, causes the individual to lose touch with his or her true nature; the loss of one’s true nature ends in a loss of freedom.

 

While society corrupts human nature, it also represents the possibility of its perfection in morality.

 

Human interaction requires the transformation of natural freedom into moral freedom; this transformation is based on reason and provides the foundation for a theory of political right.

 

A just society replaces the individual’s natural freedom of will with the general will; such a society is based on a social contract by which each individual alienates all of his or her natural rights to create a new corporate person, the sovereign, the repository of the general will.

 

The individual READ ENTIRETY (The French Deists: J. J. Rousseau; Compiled by Lewis Loflin; Sullivan-county.com)

 

The culmination of the radicalism of French Deism is in Robespierre.

 

The Cult of the Supreme Being (French: Culte de l’Être suprême) was a form of deism established in France by Maximilien Robespierre during the French Revolution.[1] It was intended to become the state religion of the new French.[2]a

 

Origins

 

The French Revolution had given birth to (sic) many radical changes in France. One of the most fundamental for the hitherto Roman Catholic nation was the official rejection of religion. The first major organized school of thought emerged under the umbrella name of the Cult of Reason. Advocated by extreme radicals like Jacques Hébert and Antoine, the Cult of Reason distilled a mixture of largely atheistic views into a humanocentric philosophy. No gods at all were worshipped in the Cult – the guiding principle was devotion to the abstract conception of Reason.[3] This bold rejection of all divinity appalled the rectitudinous Robespierre. Its offense was compounded by the “scandalous scenes” and “wild masquerades” attributed to its practice.[4] In late 1793, Robespierre delivered a fiery denunciation of the Cult and its proponents [5] and proceeded to give his own vision of proper Revolutionary religion. Devised almost entirely by his own hand, Le culte de l’Être suprême was formally announced before the French National Convention on 7 May 1794.[6]

 

Religious tenets

 

Robespierre believed that reason is only a means to an end, and the singular end is Virtue. He sought to move beyond simple deism (often described as Voltairean by its adherents) to a new and, in his view, more rational devotion to the godhead. The primary principles of the Cult of the Supreme Being were a belief in the existence of a god and the immortality of the human soul.[7] Though not inconsistent with Christian doctrine, these beliefs were put to the service of Robespierre’s fuller meaning, which was of a type of civic-minded, public virtue he attributed to the Greeks and Romans:[8] this type of Virtue could only be attained through active fidelity to liberty and democracy.[9]Belief in a living god and a higher moral code, he said, were “constant reminders of justice” and thus essential to a republican society.[10]

 

Revolutionary impact

 

Robespierre used the religious issue to publicly denounce the motives of many radicals not in his camp, and it led, directly or indirectly, to the executions of Revolutionary de-Christianizers like Hébert, Momoro, and Anacharsis Cloots.[11] The establishment of the Cult of the Supreme Being represented the beginning of the reversal of the wholesale de-Christianization process that had been looked upon previously with official favor.[12] Simultaneously it READ ENTIRETY (Cult of the Supreme Being; By Jeff Franklin; CultBusters Galactica Origin Page [Yeah I know crazy looking website, but the article is good writing])

 

I am driving home the point there was a difference between American deism and the atheistic naturalism of French deism is this: A huge majority of Founding Father deists considered themselves Christians. So even though these Christian Deists in varying degrees were not agreeable to the Word of God demonstrating the power of God, the Founding Fathers believed that Christian Morality must be the foundation for what can be good in the rule of law. Check out the Signers Page of the U.S. Constitution:

 

Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the twelfth.

 

In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

 

… (Followed by the signatures of the representative of the thirteen original states formally loosely aligned under the Articles of ConfederationBold emphasis mine)

 

Does anyone wonder why the Founding Fathers use the words “year of our Lord” if they intended Christianity to have no effect in the rule of law as administered by the three Branches of the U.S. government? It doesn’t sound like an ambitious plan to separate Christianity from influencing the Federal government, right?

 

END OF PART ONE

 

JRH 3/18/14

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