Returning to Our Roots.

It has been written the time of our constitution, 1787, was the most secular period in U. S. history.  Historian, Susan Jacoby, wrote the years following 1787, the late 1700′s and early 1800′s, was a time of enthusiastic secularism, though she had to dig to find the records of all that went on then.  The dominant narrative about our entire history has been Christianity was the only game in town.

There is continuing evidence the public is withdrawing from ”organized religion”, that is, Christian denominations.  The link below outlines one historian’s explanation for this change.

In addition to the rise of secularism is the rise of what is called ”spirituality”.  This means a wider variety of religious beliefs.

In my understanding, the one-god world is a new and innovative concept.  We know the ruler, Constantine, shoe horned various gods into one, the “Trinity”.

The more natural tendency of humans is to worship several gods.  Around the time of the Jesus, pagans had lower level and higher level gods.  Hindus have too many for me to count.  Catholics have saints as what I would call stand-ins for the more natural many gods.

A common explanation for the “spiritual but not religious” trend is the culture has become increasingly self centered.  The 1960′s hippie period was followed by Burger King’s “Have it your way” campaign and our hundreds of TV channels today.

In my view, it is not more self centeredness, but a return to the way things used to be.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-laderman/the-rise-of-religious-non_b_2913000.html?utm_hp_ref=religion

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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58 Responses to Returning to Our Roots.

  1. Avatar of Mac Mac says:

    What’s really disappointing, is that from my point of view, Constitutional law seems to take a tone of ‘believe what you wish, but let’s ensure EVERYONE can believe what they wish. Let’s stop basing law on government sanctioned religion.’

    I’m no historian, but I stick with that Pilgrim story of people in ugly clothes and big hats fleeing government sanctioned religion in England and forging a new world here.

    Yet now here were are, with fundamentalist religion using every resource imaginable to force their point of view on our country, citing our founding father’s intention this country be based on a specific religion.

    Kind of the definition of irony, isn’t it?

    • Grandma says:

      Mac, I have a couple of comments. The Pilgrims, in their ugly clothes, did not arrive on this continent to build a nation founded on religious liberty, as is shown by the folks they excommunicated who then founded adjoining states.

      The idea of religious liberty, as promoted by Thos. Jefferson and others, comes from Virginia and the Jamestown Colony settlers, who weren’t liberal but never burned a witch.

      I’ve looked into this at some length, and can recommend some readings, because my husband’s ancestors arrived in Mass. in 1635 while some of mine were already here in 1607. Ha! I beat him!

      However, the folks in the funny clothes and bad hats do make a better kindergarten program….

  2. Ed says:

    I think most Christians are curious to better understand why atheists are so intent on criticizing religion, making fun of their beliefs rather than just not believing. I have not met one Christian who is hell bent to ridicule atheists ? So I think with Easter upon us, it is a good time, as a Christian, to leave the site. I know that makes several happy here. I have given my best to be open minded and understand atheists. But I’m going to spend my time following blogs that are trying to make the world a better place, not tear it apart. Jon…may you find peace.

    • entech says:

      Actually if you are looking for Christians hell bent on ridiculing atheists you have come to the right place, lots of believers here whose only purpose in posting is to attack Jon in particular and non believers in general. Take you own current post, for example, totally ignoring the topic at hand.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Ed 2:19 “I have not met one Christian who is hell bent to ridicule atheists.”

      I met one, President George Herbert Walker Bush. He said in an interview (I believe I’m quoting accurately), “No, atheists are not citizens of the United States. This is a Christian country.”

      • Henry says:

        Jon supposedly quoting Bush: “No, atheists are not citizens of the United States. This is a Christian country.”

        Hearsay from Robert Sherman, a journalist apparently without a tape recorder, camera, or journalist friends. Very queer.

        • entech says:

          Almost up to biblical standards of veracity.

          http://www.robsherman.com/information/liberalnews/2004/0204.htm

          This of course proves nothing except that Sherman continued saying that it happened and did not run away under pressure. A reasonable indication that it is true. A further possible indication of veracity is the known propensity for father and son to speak without thinking first, “Born with a silver foot in the mouth”.

          • Henry says:

            More conspiracy theory hogwash on the Bush family. You know, I didn’t hear any Aussies complain when Bush was flying around in the Pacific keeping Australia from being invaded in the 1940′s. The level of hatred and jealousy towards the Bush family is unmerited. Disagreement with them? Yes.

            I also did not know there was only one mortal author of the Bible in equivalence as you apparently claim in your “almost biblical veracity” claim.

            Your posts are becoming less logical with more flawed reasoning and less freethinking. You are very stuck.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            ” …continued saying that it happened and did not run away under pressure. A reasonable indication that it is true.”—-Reminds me of the Martyrs early on in “The Way,” and continuing. Both known and unknown.

          • entech says:

            This rather makes the point I was trying to make @ 2:51 here we have Henry rattling on about Australia in the forties, I was a baby in England at that time didn’t know where I was let alone where Australia was. I said absolutely nothing about any Bush, merely pointing out that Sherman did not retract a word. The silver foot comment came from Ann Richards Governor of Texas.
            On the other and we get things like:
            http://rense.com/general26/dutch.htm
            and
            http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworldwar
            and much more when we try and check on the Big Bush and the Pacific Campaign, incidentally you have been known to suggest that you saved the universe in those days, did the personal invitation from Tojo have anything to do with it.

            What on earth are you mumbling about, I spoke nothing of Biblical authorship. I said that Sherman’s story had as much if not more going for it than most of your scriptural inventions.

            Last paragraph, mumble mumble, less logical freethinking etc, I wasn’t going to be personal about this but in my @ 2:51 the person I was thinking of, in particular, when responding to Ed’s claim that not one Christian would ridicule atheists was you. You will say anything, lies, distortions, inventions totally irrelevant things like the second war to form any puerile attack on any non-believer. The only thing you do is read the topics and posts so that you can demonstrate that you are “hell bent to ridicule atheists”.

            Your 11:42 99% non-sequitur and 100% rubbish. Quod Erat Demonstrandum

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Starting right away with Saul/Paul in Acts 9:1.

          • entech says:

            I have a comment waiting moderation. probably because of a couple of referrals. [sorry I was slow in approving, overslept. Jon]
            I would point out I knew nothing of the insinuations about the bush family until I looked up the Bush story of being a pilot in the Pacific in 1940′s. Thanks Henry you teach me more than you know or want.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 4:39 re: Pres. George H W Bush anti atheist comment

            Thanks for that reference. As I understand it, Bush’s press guy had a chance to refute that Bush ever made the remark. Instead of denying it, he said the President had the same right to hold and express whatever views he wished to hold.

            That closes the case that Henry and right wing sites, whose motto is, “Let’s make stuff up”, make that he didn’t say it.

          • Henry says:

            Jon: “Bush’s press guy had a chance to refute”

            Some unsubstantiated charges aren’t worthy of a response. Jon, you are so far away from having a closer that you are falling into an immense chasm, and falling further into the opening.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 4:20 Some unsubstantiated charges aren’t worthy of a response, Jon…you are falling into an emmense chasm…”

            Ah yes, the oldest debate technique ever used. When you are losing an argument, don’r even try to present evidence, just attack the messenger.

            Bush Sr. spoke. A credentialed reporter wrote down what he said. Bush Sr did not deny saying it. This argument is over.

          • Henry says:

            Jon: “When you are losing an argument, don’r even try to present evidence”

            Now you are shifting the burden onto me to prove a negative.

            Talk about an old debate trick…….

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 10:31 “Talk about an old debate trick..”

            I know. I’m a tricky rascal. I use evidence.

          • Henry says:

            Well, Jon, that is the issue. Your evidence is weak and unsubstantiated. Your second witness consists of Bush’s silence. Not adequate. Not up to journalistic standards. Sorry. Try again.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Henry 11:27 “Your second witness consists of Bush’s silence.”

            It’s evidence.

          • entech says:

            Jon 2:07 pm I started looking it up because my original intent was to point out that it was one of the so called “Urban Myths”, the location and reference numbers for the correspondence suggest otherwise.

            Michael has a good point, one that applies almost universally;
            He said things liked that to get insert relevant group designation support you can enter anything you like depending on the candidate you are talking about.

            There are people and websites that do live under the motto “Let’s make stuff up”, if ever you come across some of the revisionist sites you can see them at their worst the revised histories of Stalin and Hitler are a wonder to behold, a pair of angels according to some. But less extreme, and more believable because of it, sites are to be found all over the net. Many anti Darwin, death bed conversion, really a Christian etc. unfortunately a bit of over enthusiasm comes in from both sides of the various arguments, political, religious especially but many I would find hard to take seriously.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 1:01 “Michael has a good point..”

            The urban myth the Bush II did not say he didn’t consider atheists citizens apparently is kept alive by the notion that if there was no recording, he didn’t say it. Most reporters did not use recordings until recent decades.

            (I tired to remove the italics but the editing function for that is a little beyond me. Always something with software, just now I can’t get FaceBook to link by blog.)

          • entech says:

            Jon 1:50 yes it is a bit embarrassing when you get the markup wrong. I remember once not only the last part of my post finished up in ‘bold” but all the next comments as well, I only intended to emphasize one word :)

            Pity they didn’t have recorders 2000 years ago. But they didn’t have newspapers and accredited reporters either, but even then illiteracy was at a pretty high level makng the critic a pretty rare entity. But some people believe what they want to believe (even selecting the bits they like and ignoring the bits they don’t) while some others look at the same writing with a super critical eye and an opposite viewpoint, that is looking for the bits that don’t read right (guilty as charged), and they do find quite a lot.

          • Henry says:

            Jon: “It’s evidence [silence].”

            Ok. Your game. Bush’s silence (one person) vs. the silence of other reporters (many persons) who did not record or report on the remarks.
            Case closed.

      • Michael Ross says:

        GHWB is a Skull and Bones cultist and a mass murderer. He said things liked that to get Christian conservative support. It’s mind-boggling to me that so many Christians fell for such lines.

        • Brad says:

          I agree 100%, but what it proves is how incredibly gullible so many on the Religious Right are, and how quick and easy they are able to ditch actual Christian teachings.

        • Henry says:

          Alecks Jones has been sporting those conspiracy theories. Careful of his hogwash.

          Has the Bushes damaged the conservative base? Yes. They are guilty of practicing poor politics, and here we are enjoying Obamba.

          • Wolfy32 says:

            Henry, I’m still waiting for my free health care?? While we’re at it why not free food, free housing, and free clothing? Oh and Free water… No more personal responsibility… Just going to let the government take care of me because it knows best. ;)

          • Henry says:

            Talk to Jon. He is an Obamba lover.

        • Wolfy32 says:

          Many Presidents have had a lot of horrendous things done during their presidency, both ordered and / or unknown by the president. I can’t imagine what a president must of felt when ordering the nuclear bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I don’t care if it ended a global war, the suffering that thousands and thousands of people went through at the hands of one single man. How does one live with that. Just a sample of the pressures that many presidents deal with. We have no idea that amount of political, religious, and personal pressure every individual is under. They’re human, and they make many mistakes. All of them have had their fair share of mistakes and take responsibility for things that they were never responsible for. I, in some ways pity them, because they never get a chance to simply be a human. They have to be superhuman representing the entire nation and drawing scrutiny from everything they do, from when they went to the bathroom to what they had for dessert…

          And for the record, many presidents were a part of Skull and Bones, including Clinton and many others. There’s only been a select few that weren’t.

  3. Jinx says:

    jon is ‘blogmaster’

    jon selects topics

    you don’t have to read it or comment on it

    keep up the good work jon, you are appreciated!
    at least your fair and logical!

  4. Buzz says:

    Henry 4:21 I try to be sympathetic to your defense of Christianity but your deliberate misuse of our Presidents name name shoots your credibility with me and probably alot of others in the toilet. That is bullying.I think your bigger than that.

  5. entech says:

    Couldn’t find obamba as an abbreviation but the supposed original obambulate means to walk around (usually described as outdated or obsolete which is appropriate considering the mental patterns of people that use the abbreviation). A point of confusion, at least to a simple (as opposed to sophisticated) mind is why would the abbreviation be honoured with an uppercase initial letter?

    Jon as you are one who loves your obambulations, tell us do you do it for exercise, just around the local streets or do you go out into the country.
    Or perhaps it should be perambulator, what in British English is abbreviated to ‘pram’ and in America referred to as a stroller, I am sure that as part of your duties as a loving grandparent you would have done some of that as well.

    From Wordsmith.org/words/obaambulate.html
    This week we feature words that may appear to have been coined after this year’s candidates, but they have been in the language even before these candidates were born.

    obambulate
    MEANING:
    verb intr.: To walk about.
    ETYMOLOGY:
    From Latin ob- (to) + ambulare (to walk). Earliest documented use: 1614.
    USAGE:
    “We have often seen noble statesmen obambulating (as Dr. Johnson would say) the silent engraving-room, obviously rehearsing their orations.”
    The Year’s Art; J.S. Virtue & Co.; 1917.

    How nice to see Jon and the president described as noble statesmen, although that is probably a bit extreme for a simple retired Mayor.

    PS, Wordsmith also had another word associated with elections and that was Mitty, would a different president be named after the Thurber character, I guess to expect a Mormon to be accepted by the evangelicals and fundamentalists would have been a dream.

    • Henry says:

      http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/obambulate
      obambulate
      1. (intransitive) To walk about, to wander aimlessly

      I would agree, entech. This definition would nicely fit both Obamba and Jon, particularly the wander aimlessly portion.

      • entech says:

        Would that include the “Noble Statesman” :lol: :roll:

        • Henry says:

          Sure, if title to obamulating is important to you and Jon.

          • entech says:

            No thanks title to nonexistent things is a religious prerogative.

            From http://www.wordnik.com/words/obamulate
            ‘obamulate’ has been looked up 3014 times, loved by 1 person, added to 2 lists, commented on 5 times, and is not a valid Scrabble word.

          • Henry says:

            Here is the correct link with the correct spelling:
            http://www.wordnik.com/words/obambulate?suggested_from=obamulate

          • Henry says:

            Nice try, entech.

          • entech says:

            Henry I wasn’t trying anything, just following your lead:
            The spelling without the “B” was yours at 12:51 pm. minor errors like this creep in everywhere, I guess I am up there amongst the top offenders. I was going to ignore it as a typo, but just for fun I Googled it and came up with the wordnik bit. Both links give a valid page.

            Further checking gives this:
            From a site called wordinfo
            obambulate (oh BAHM byuh layt) (verb), obambulates; obambulated; obambulating; NOT obamulate
            1. To walk around aimlessly or to wander here and there: “Whenever William went into town, he could see this woman obambulating around the town; and apparently, she obambulated just about every day.”
            2. It seems that some people want to apply these terms to President Barack Obama to mean that he wanders around aimlessly, takes little to no significant actions, or that he is without direction or purpose.
            The spelling of obamulate (with the missing “b” of “obambulate”) was presented by Rush Limbaugh [on or about, March 24, 2011] on his radio program and this is not the first or only mistake he has made in his career.
            3. Etymology: from Latin ob-, “towards, against” + ambulare, “to walk”.

            Perhaps one of the new words suggested @1:40 could be henrietta meaning an in ability to admit to any error at all not even acknowledging a typo with the verb form to henriate.

            As Henry declares this is humerous perhaps, seriously this time (must admit henrietta was just a tease), we could have ohenriate which would mean making a game out of something in order to divert attention from the seriousness of it, with overtones of it being a silly word game. Every time someone tries it on we just need to use the abbreviation and say ohenry.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      entech 7:48 I wonder if Wordsmith would be open to a new definition related to our discussion board, here. I’d like to suggest a couple.

      Henryized: When a otherwise rational discussion has an obscure and unimportant piece of information introduced and elevated to a place of prominence.

      Henryitis: When a person allows himself to engage in discussions over these bits of unimportant diversions. (I’m glad you are here, Henry :) )

  6. Wolfy32 says:

    Many of you talk about rational and intellectual thought as the only way to living. That spirituality and faith are more or less our races own doom / failing. I’ve been Reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and I came away yesterday with a quote last evening that I wanted to post here. I thought it interesting that Stephen King, well known and respected author would write something like this. As a fledgling author some personal emotional and spiritual investment goes into the writing to either get a point across or make the story more personal and relatable.

    I found this quote intriguing:

    Mia shrugged. “You doom yourselves, Susannah. You seem positively bent on it, and the root is always the same: your faith fails you, and you replace it with rational thought. But there is no love in thought, nothing that lasts in deduction, only death in rationalism.” #
    — Stephen King, Darrel Anderson

    I think that sums up my point very well with my issue with Atheists outlook. There is no hope, no purpose, no reason to adhere to anything in a life without any belief in anything but that which is provable and knowable. In that way something as simple as love ceases to exist. For love is not provable or scientifically explainable in any way shape or form. Nor is it logical. Yet it exists beyond much of our intellectual understanding.

    If we only believe in what is knowable, rational, and provable, then, we lose our humanity, our emotion, our passion, our ambition, our compassion, and most importantly, our hope.

    Though we live in a society that seeks to suppress human emotion as something bad, and not acceptable, it is what drives us to try to find breakthroughs in human ailments, what fuels our scientific research to find more and prove more in the universe. The passion, the soul of the entire human race drives our race to not only survive, but to thrive. Yet, scientifically and logically, that human drive, that makes us so much more, is nothing more than neurological brain hormones and chemicals.

    Using that mentality, murderers and rapists shouldn’t be put in prison or separated from society because it wasn’t them that did their crimes, it was their mental hormones and mental chemicals released in their brains. There would be no personal responsibility if we had no moral / ethical code by which to believe in. And logically, what reason is there to care about a murderer’s crimes? We could rationalize the victom’s deaths as “survival of the fittest” the victom must have been weak.

    Stephen King said it best… Without faith we doom ourselves.

    • entech says:

      Thanks for that Wolfy, nice to get a quote from fiction instead of gospel, from fiction that is not CSs Lewis or GK Chesterton. If we open the field up like that how about:
      I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.
      or
      To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.
      Isaac Asimov

      • Wolfy32 says:

        There’s sometimes more truth in fiction than in reality, because in fiction, there’s less stigma than if it was taken as “reality”. I’ve gotten a lot of intellectual understanding from fiction simply because it’s safer for ideas to be expressed in fiction than in reality.

        After all, some of the first bringing to light the political issue/ impact of homosexuality was done through Fiction. I’m surprised you’re belittling what fiction gives us… Yet using it to support your own ideas. I’m left a little confused.

        • entech says:

          Not belittling fiction at all, merely saying that outside of scripture a lot of Christian people on this site quote Lewis or Chesterton, supporters of their cause. Asimov is one of my favourites both fiction and non-fiction and says things with which I agree.
          I would however suggest that King is not a serious writer in any philosophical sense, not to be compared with Lewis or Asimov.

          Incidentally, as you may have guessed, I consider most of the Bible to be fiction; which is not to say nothing can be gained from it, both negative and positive.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wolfy32 1:01 “There is no hope, no purpose, no reason to adhere to anything in a life without any belief in anything but that which is provable and knowable.”

      Many believers have made the same observations here, “To not believe in God/Jesus must leave you with a pointless miserable life.” It is so common it is used on a Christian parody site I visit where athiests pretend to be Christians and talk about atheists the way Christians talk about them. There is a long running thread titled, “Atheists, what is the point of your miserable empty lives?”

      That line of thought misses what atheists actually experience. They experience the same thing Christians do, aspirations and idealism beyond themselves. I heard a “wise man” talk about this years ago. He said everyone needs to be trying to reach something just a little bigger and higher than they can reach. The Christian might find this kind of goal in their faith–the nonbeliever in something else. To assume to only place it exists is in religion is, at the risk of being snarky, ridiculous.

      In fact, on the parody site, it is riduculed.

      • Wolfy32 says:

        I didn’t say to not believe in God / Jesus. or Christianity for that matter. My understanding is that the Core of Atheism is to not believe in anything..

        If you believed in Budha, Hinduism, or Allah, or some other higher power. Heck even Agnostisism would be believing in something. In all truth, I should probably be called an Agnostic than a Christian, though, all Christians should be called Angostics if we’re splitting hairs… God was not created/ born, etc on earth, therefore, he is an alien being, by definition.

        Symantecs aside. Believing in something greater than oneself gives hope for something more than this existence. AS to heaven and hell.. I have no more idea what they contain, than, anyone else. Since there’s most likely multiple universes out there and each universe is near infinite in size.. I guess I don’t feel I’d get bored.. There’d be lots to do, to explore, to see.. One single planet has entertained our entire race for millions of years… I can’t imagine a whole universe of planets to explore!

        There’s tons of things I want to know and see that I’ll never be able to know and see in my lifetime.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Wolfy32 2:28 “There’s tons of things I want to know and see that I’ll never be able to know and see in my lifetime.”

          You speak for all of us there. Good thought. I want to address “My understanding is the Core of Atheism is not to believe in anything.”

          For some reason, that is a common myth of believers. I’m glad you wrote the two words, “My understanding..” because it’s a signal you may want to learn.

          While I can’t speak for all the various ways and degrees people are unable to believe, there are a few clear ones. One is humanism. There is a national organization of Humanists that is very old. The seeds of it were written thousands of years ago. A central tenet is humans are hope, they can make our lives better. You might look at Humanist Society of America. I’ve been to their offices in D. C.

          A general theme of nonbelievers is to spend one’s life considering and preparing for an afterlife is to waste a life. It is an exercise in selfishness. A more noble aspiration is to spend one’s life making the world better for the future generations of humans. The short version of this is to protect the environment and stop or reduce killing each other in the many ways we do that. Thus, atheists believe is many high-minded things, they just don’t believe in faries, ghosts, sky gods, after life or other invisible and unseen beings. Avoiding these gives great purpose and satisfaction to their lives.

          In the same way you see the atheist’s life as empty, the atheist sees the believer’s life as empty. They see it as having no deeper purpose than worshipping a fairy.

  7. entech says:

    … site I visit where atheists pretend to be Christians …
    I don’t think we need to go to a parody site to find that, it is probably a lot more common in the wider world than most would admit to, not unknown among preachers apparently.

    • entech says:

      This should have been attached to Jon’s 1:28 pm. getting late here, goodnight, hope I don’t go for any nocturnal obambulations.

  8. Stanta says:

    Trinity, St Paul says to baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in his letters, verified by scholars to be within 10 years of the crucifixion. Much earlier the Constantine.

    • entech says:

      As I have said before I am not impressed by Paul, but, I will agree that the part played by Constantine is much overstated. Constantine’s main interest was stability for the sake of his own rule so he called for a consensus on what was being preached and listened to in the main centres, right or wrong what became orthodoxy was what most adherents adhered to.

      • Stanta says:

        Entech, Paul has been a study of mine for the last several years and I am curious about your antopathy about him. while he could have claimed the financial support of the community, he always found work to support himself and many of the people who traveled with him. He never profited from his teaching of the Gospel.

        He was beaten many times by his fellow Jews, was stoned and left for dead, had to escape over the city walls in one location and generally had to face all the dangers travel during this time period offered. But he never stopped teaching.

        If he had done it for riches or fame I could understand why you dislike him.

        • entech says:

          Amongst other things he laid the groundwork for antisemitism.

          • Stanta says:

            He was a Jew, a Pharisee and remained a Jew after his conversion. Could you be a bit more specific? I never read a thing from his letters calling for death to the Jews, he may not of had great respect for the politics of the Jewish leaders, but then a lot if us question politics.

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