Conservative Fundamentalism and the Independent Baptist Movement of our day has formulated a set of unwritten rules and regulations which men and women are expected to abide by. These have no Biblical foundation, or have been ‘tweaked’ and misinterpreted to promote these extra-biblical or non-Biblical standards. Although these ‘laws,’ for the most part, cannot be found in a formalised document, anyone who attends or has ever been a part of a conservative IB church is aware of their existence. The list below below, though not exhaustive, identifies most of the areas which pose a non-biblical, or misinterpreted view, or are not even remotely found in the pages of Scripture. Please be very careful not to judge the author’s personal position on each item as the intention here is not to tear down each point, but to challenge the reader regarding the Biblical validity of such edicts.

The 10 (unwritten) commandments of the conservative Independent Baptist

1) Thou shalt only use the KJV Bible.

  • Some IB churches state that the KJV is the inspired Word of God.
  • Some IB church constitutions even state that it must be a 1611 version (have you ever read an excerpt from a 1611 copy?)

2) Thou shalt only sing hymns.

3) Thou shalt not discuss controversial topics.

  • Some of these topics include: Calvinism, The Holy Spirit, Women’s Role in the Church, etc.

4) Thou shalt not make reference to controversial people outside the movement.

  • Some of these people include: John McArthur, A.W. Pink, R.C. Sproul, John Calvin, John Piper, Paul Washer etc.

5) Thou shalt only array thyself in the “highest” standards of clothing for church.

  • This usually means that the men wear suits, shirts and ties and the ladies wear skirts.
  • There are many instances where a lady in particular, is not permitted to be involved in a ministry due to her wearing slacks.

6) Thou shalt attend the Sunday morning and evening church services along with the mid-week Bible study.

  • Although not always verbalised, it is generally intimated that a person who does not attend these services is not right with God.
  • It is also inferred that a church which does not hold to this paradigm is not fulfilling its purpose.

7) Thou shalt never disagree with the leadership of the church.

  • To challenge a comment or doctrinal position of one in leadership within the IB churches is often considered to be fighting against God Himself.
  • In most cases, a dictatorial position is held by the Pastor and leadership instead of an approachable, theocratic system of rule.

8) Thou shalt not use drums or any electrical instruments in the church.

  • Some IB churches state that drums, electric guitars and Jazz instruments were the invention of the Devil and his demons.

9) Thou shalt only transfer thy membership to another Independent Baptist church.

  • Although not always verbalised, it is generally considered a grave error to transfer your membership to a church outside the movement.

10) Thou shalt only fellowship with those of like faith and practice within the Independent Baptist movement.

  • There is a significant population of people within conservative Independent Baptist Churches who believe that they are the only true Christians.

Although each point above requires conscientious consideration and biblical research, let us consider for a few moments the last of this list: Thou shalt only fellowship with those of like faith and practice within the Independent Baptist Movement.

Personal testimony

I have had the privilege of preaching for over 12 years around Australia and have seen the way ‘church is done’ in many different places. For the majority of that time, I was a ‘hard-nosed, die-hard, Independent Baptist preacher’ who quite often mounted the hobby horses of music, versions, apparel etc. My ministry also consisted of identifying those men and women outside our movement who are ‘heretics’ and this ’20-something-year-old-preacher’ was wiser than them all and ‘knew’ that they were wrong. I have since been challenged by the Holy Spirit in recent times regarding the ‘non-biblical’ positions that I have held to, and I realise now that I have been wearing the ‘Independent Baptist Blinkers’ which have obstructed my view of real Christianity to some extent. Please do not misunderstand that last statement. I am very thankful for the teaching, preaching and training that I have received at the hand of many an Independent Baptist. I am, however, extremely concerned about our views regarding those who live, breathe and move outside the IB circles.

Fundamentalists are not the only Christians


‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Romans 10:13

This verse carries no prejudice, nor does it include any categories of people who form an exception to this clear-cut statement. There is a myriad of passages in Scripture which clearly define the elements of saving faith (repentance etc.), but in this verse alone we find that the only prerequisite of salvation is the ‘calling upon the name of the Lord.’ God does not say “I will save you because I foresee that you will attend an IB church.” God saves sinners who call upon Him! It is interesting how conservative Christians will pray earnestly for an unbeliever to be saved, and then when they are saved and attend a church denomination other than their own, they disown them and label them as a ‘false convert.’ They say things like “they can’t be a Christian because they attend a Lutheran church.” This is disgraceful as it attacks the heart of the gospel and alters the doctrine of Soteriology. I wonder how many unsaved people are on the membership roles of Independent Baptist Churches in our land – only Heaven will tell!

The confusion of doctrine and the gospel

There appears to be a great confusion between doctrine and the Gospel. This becomes apparent when we analyse our thinking regarding those who differ from our doctrinal positions on areas not directly related to the gospel message. For example, some IB Christians would automatically place a person who does not believe in water baptism in the ‘unsaved basket.’ Others would judge a man’s salvation (or lack thereof) by his adhesion to the relevance of sign gifts for this age. Our primary concern for any individual must be regarding faith in the gospel and the work of justification in their life. If it is apparent that the man who attends the local Presbyterian or Charismatic church has a personal relationship with my Saviour then I can have fellowship with him around the gospel. Granted, there may be other areas of grave concern which I would disagree with and at some points separate over, but these form a doctrinal difference NOT a GOSPEL difference! Let us not hate those who differ from us in doctrine or practice but rather seek to teach them the truth from God’s Word (not our statements of faith!)

The importance of doctrine

At this juncture I see the importance of inserting a paragraph regarding the importance of doctrine for those in particular who look for an opportunity to criticise this article. There is no question that the doctrines of Scripture are essential for a believer to know and to spend their lives in the pursuit of. It is imperative that we study the Word and seek to correctly exegete its contents and I in no way wish to minimise or de-emphasise the importance of such pursuits. Let us be diligent students and ‘hold fast the faithful Word (Titus 1:9).’


Let us not be quick to pass judgment or sentence upon those who do not dot the ‘I’s and cross the ‘T’s like we do. Let us be proactive in teaching, training and discipling whomever God brings across our path. Do not hastily say ‘But he is not a Baptist!’

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About Daniel Kriss

Daniel is pastor at Mount Cathedral Community Baptist Church in Taggerty, Victoria. Daniel has studied theology and has been involved in itinerant preaching since 1999. In 2006, Daniel founded SWAT Camp which helps develop young leaders for Christian ministry. Daniel and his wife Jessica live in Melbourne. You can contact Daniel at


  1. Jeremy Crooks 24 February, 2012 at 6:35 am

    Thanks Daniel,

    Many of us have trod the same path you have described. It is liberating when we start following Jesus rather than a system. Blessings to you as you grow in freedom in Christ.

  2. Aaron Budiman 24 February, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Fundamentalists and independent baptists would have been rebuked if they had been one of the 7 churches Jesus spoke to in Rev 2 & 3. But neither would most of us. God save us from ourselves and perfect us with both truth and love so that we can throw this bathwater out well, but keep the baby…

  3. Deborah Kemper 24 February, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Daniel, I think this more a “rant” than a blog. What is the purpose – to tell everyone to steer clear of IB churches? There are a lot of sweeping generalisations here “some within the movement” “significant population”

    Very harsh is the “In most cases, a dictatorial position is held by the Pastor and Leadership …” In some maybe, but “in most!!!!” I’ve obviously been moving in different circles!

    This seems more like a letter to ‘lash out’ at those who have hurt you – rather than a balanced commentary.

  4. PJ 24 February, 2012 at 9:49 am

    I try as best I can to respect the right of independent, autonomous local churches to determine their own standards on all of the matters described in this post. While I might disagree with the standards other churches hold, I hardly think its my right to publicly criticise them.

    According to Romans 14 I’m to avoid ‘judging’ and ‘despising’ those who’s standards are different to mine in matters of conscience. This post seems to be awfully close to despising those “who eat not”.

  5. Daniel Kriss 24 February, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Hi Deborah, Thanks for your comments. The purpose of this Blog (or rant as you call it) is to encourage all of us to not follow a set of non-biblical rules but to follow the Word. I am suprised to hear you say that you have not seen these things especially since we have operated in similar circles. At no point did I make a sweeping statement that ALL IB churches are like this. This blog has nothing to do with anybody who has or has not hurt me, its primary purpose is to expose the lie which many believe and that is that because an individual operates outside the movement does not mean he is any less saved. Sorry if these comments offend you. Blessings. Daniel

  6. Deborah Kemper 24 February, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Hi Daniel

    I didn’t say I hadn’t seen these things – I was questioning your use of the words “In Most…..” I think this is a definate generalisation. Also, if the purpose was just to encourage the following of the Word not just a set of rules – then why just single out the IB churches? Having said that I agree that the bible is our reference, not man’s ideas and rules etc. Man’s ideas change constantly and if we rely on them we are certain to be let down. I also agree, that peoples salvation is not indicated by which church they go to – I know of many good christians from a variety of churches.

  7. Kez 24 February, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I think your last point is especially relevant. Even the most conservative IB churches often find it difficult to really fellowship with each other because there are always some slight differences in practice or faith somewhere along the line. In fact from a lot of what ive personally seen, separation seems to be enforced more and more over practices rather than faith.

    My question is, if we cant even fellowship with others who differ on faith and practices, how are we ever supposed to win the lost or nurture the baby Christians? I’ve seen some IBs so focused on not mixing with another Christian who varies just slightly on a practice like music or dress that they will not even come near an unsaved person except to try and force the gospel down their throats and then retreat again as quickly as possible. Even Jesus *SAT* and *ATE* with sinners. it wasn’t an “in there and get out” operation.

    I have a young friend who I recently helped to share Christ with who got saved. Barely a week later, she came to me in total discouragement after a member of more “liberal” IB church lit into her on how if she really wanted to please God and get help, she’d get rid of all her music, take out the extra piercings and pretty much change everything about her all at once. This member was not willing to help her or nurture her new faith as a baby Christian until she mimicked their faith and practices to the T. She was so bewildered and discouraged, it took several weeks and several long talks before she began to recover her zeal and enthusiasm to continue to learn about God and the gospel. We can’t force godly change in young Christians so if the premise we live by is that we can’t associate with them until they are changed, shouldn’t we just as well give up while we’re ahead and before we hurt them too…?

  8. Daniel Kriss 24 February, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Deb, the reason I have particularly ‘targeted’ the IB movement is because I am an IB, and because it is all that I know well enough to make comment on. Also our movement is, and has been in danger of destroying ourselves with these ‘non-biblical’ ideas for sometime. So many people are turning away from the movement because they realise that a set of rules is what they must follow to be ‘one of us’ instead of clear Bible-based principles. For example, a lady may leave an IB church because someone has told her she is not allowed to wear slacks to prayer meeting. That lady is now hurt and feels that Christianity is nothing more than a set of rules and regulations! God spare us from this kind of formality and orthodoxy!

    • Jeremy Crooks 24 February, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      What is the IB movement anyway? They only moving it is doing is contracting? I believe the sooner we stop viewing ourselves as part of a ‘movement’ (whatever flavor that may be) and start seeing ourselves as the body of Christ, then the healthier we will be.

  9. Mark 24 February, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Hey Daniel, nice blurb! Given that you (presumably) havent moved in Pentecostal,anglican, catholic, Lutheran circles, but have been predominantly in IB circles all your life AND if you have found that what you have said to be the truth (one would HOPE so!) then your point is relevant.
    I, too have had similar dealings with the I B movement. The first 20 or so year of my life were spent in IB churches. I could rant and rave for hours about their various “foibles” but it would do no good. I am sad to see that there has been hurt caused in your life from these things, Daniel. I pray that as God gives you grace to forgive that you would be in prayer for their release from their heavy yokes and that they would trade them in for lighter ones that Jesus has for them. May God continue to help you as you move on in your spiritual walk, mate.

  10. Penny 24 February, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Daniel I respect your blog a lot and to have the courage to write it. All I have known is IB churches. 34 years of either IB by name or association. I have been set free and can say now I follow Jesus not the letter of the IB law.
    As for te often quoted “rebuke” in rev 2&3. Those things were not written to shove the churches nose in the problem. We need to read to the end. It says “to him who overcomes” the whole point is that we are overcomes! We have been given the right to sit with Jesus on the throne. Jesus lived so that we don’t have to live. He died so that we don’t have to die.
    I challenge you churches….what is the fruit of rubbing your people’s noses in their sin? Do you lack faith that God will actually speak to those in sin? Who of you is without sin to cast the first stone? And which one of you am has been given the ministry and spiritual gift of Judgement? We are known as we love one another. Who needs the devil when you have condemnation coming from the pews and pulpits?

  11. Matt Leys 24 February, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Let me preface my contribution by saying that I’ve spent my entire life in a single church – not IB by name, but independent and generally similar in position and identification. I’ve also had some experience with similar churches both locally and overseas.

    There is definitely truth to the ten points that Daniel has identified, and I believe that you would see these borne out to a greater or lesser extent in the majority of IFB churches.

    The thing that I think is important to point out is that, for the majority of the list, it is not difficult to identify a sound Biblical principle that underlies it. However there can be poor exposition or exercise of this principle which can cause leadership and churches to become legalistic and insular.

    From my observation there are two key factors in a church finding itself in this position:

    1) authoritarian “black & white” (sometimes unloving) leadership that have favourite hobbyhorses and resort to cliches without really addressing the issues

    2) ignorant / simplistic people (in both leadership & the pew) who find it much more convenient to pronounce blanket rules based on a principle (see some of the 10 points above) rather than understand the issues and practice Biblical discretion

    Some on this forum have been quick to judge, but I believe that there are many in IB circles that are serving God passionately, often the best they know how, although in some cases a measure of maturity, love and discretion would reap more fruit.

    My thoughts anyway …

  12. Matt Leys 24 February, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Please indulge me a second comment, as I’d be interested in other’s feedback on something that has been bouncing around in my mind recently following some sermons I’ve heard and conservations I’ve had with others …

    A number of the “rules” highlighted by Daniel would be partly supported by appealing to the need for Biblical separation, something I’d argue that just about all Christians endeavour to practice although there is often argument about where the line is.

    Something that I have pondered recently is whether, in practice, there is a distinction between individual and corporate (church) separation. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard someone clearly address this concept, although I feel that the arguments are somewhat compelling …

    A few examples …

    I may have a Pentecostal colleague in the office who enjoy enthusiastically telling me of his weekend “experiences” and asks about how my services went. I, as a loving believer, who accepts that my colleague likely is saved by Christ, but holds a clearly different position on some doctrines, could enjoy fellowship with him over the Gospel and God’s love for us while we are sitting around the lunch table.

    However, I believe that the church I attend is perfectly within its Scriptural bounds to choose to not fellowship with his congregation due to some significant doctrinal differences.

    The same could easily be demonstrated when it comes to music. Often hymn books contain music published by many different musical contributors. I may choose to purchase a particular book and jam away (righteously) at home, however the church may decide, based on the principle of separation, that it will not purchase this book for use in its services, since there are a number of contributions from artists that as a corporate body they do not wish to endorse.

    It’s not that churches have a higher standard to maintain – I think it’s more that they do not have the same opportunity for discretion in a case by case situation (as individuals do) and need to maintain some level of consistent “expected” standard. Naturally, this should always be done in a loving, and reasonable way, not simply because it’s been that way for 50 years and Pastor X says it’s right.

    I’d be interested in other’s thoughts …

    • Jeremy Crooks 24 February, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      I don’t think the issue is whether an individual or collective group choose to have a certain standard. The issue is when that standard becomes a measure of one’s godliness – particularly someone else’s godliness. Taking a Biblical principle and equating it with a manmade standard is what the Pharisees did. The problem with the Pharisees was not that they personally chose not to pick some grain on the Sabbath, but that they condemned others for not having the exact same application as they did.

  13. Matt 24 February, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Daniel, thanks for your post. Having grown up in an area where many IB churches manifested the same character traits as you’ve described and having been to IB churches in several different countries, I would agree with you. Personally, and this is just my view so don’t blow up, I think that you come awfully close to tarring all IB churches with the same brush. I’ll share a couple of stories. I just came back from a trip to QLD where I was in an IB church for a couple of weeks. The people there used the KJV and all wore ties to church. Now, I wore my best shorts (cause it was hot) and a nice collared shirt to church. But yet I felt as if I was stared down for wearing that. Nothing was ever said to me verbally about it, yet I could feel that there were the thoughts going through their heads, “Who is this person to come in only shorts and a collared shirt?” Then, I also heard a story about an evangelist from a college in the States (which shall remain unnamed to respect Romans 14) who got a new convert and then, he said, “I was so happy when I was able to take him out and get him his first tie.”

    I go to a Seventh-Day Adventist university. It certainly wasn’t my first, second, third, fourth, fifth or fiftieth choice, but God in His sovereignty and direction led me to this place. I firmly believe that there are SDAs there that are saved, and from what I’ve gathered, they do, more or less, preach the same gospel that we do. Sure, many preachers leave out the concept of judgement, but amongst the more conservative SDA elements, I believe that the true gospel is preached. I would never fellowship with them on a regular basis in a church, but I think that it’s not right to write them off completely. If you want a good study in legalistic thinking, just study some of the things the SDAs believe.

    I could go on, but I shall stop there.

  14. Sarah C 25 February, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I am not a Baptist. However, my church is Independent and Fundamental and many, though not all, of the points discussed would apply to us as well. I was taught and believe that we ought to take a stand on important issues – it is dishonest not to and as Christians we must be discerning.

    Doctrines are good and are there for our benefit, including that of biblical separation. Isn’t it wise, for example, to be thoughtful about which churches and speakers we recommend and attend? Especially when interacting with new believers and seekers.

    However, I have been taught and believe that when do take a stand we should do so with humility. After all godly theologians throughout the centuries have held differing views – many of the doctrines we have today are with us because of controversy. Also we are human and you never know – we might be wrong :-)

  15. Penny 25 February, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I have been in IB churches for almost all of my 40 years. I have done 5 years of Bible college (almost 2 in Victoria’s own IB one) and I am not convinced that we are called to be separatists. The Apostle Paul actuall tells us that we are not to separate denominationally. In fact, if there IS difference we should either be silent and allow the H.S. to do His job, or if we feel it is something that we MUST speak up on, then it must be done with exegetical preciseness and love. I see no scriptural apology for the segregationalism that is so abundant today. I am willing to listen to and study this out, but I just don’t see it. The Apostle John says, “in this the world will know that you are my disciples, in that he have love one for another”. How can we show love for each other, if we decide to show such intolerance for each other? We need to be willing to listen and learn from each other. I have learnt HEAPS from my not Baptist friends! I do not agree with all their doctrines, AND THAT’S OK! I am a big enough boy that, if we disagree on something, we study it through together. If I am convinced that my personal doctrinal dissertation is due to be reviewed, I review it. If he feels the same, he does the same. If there is room for both of us to continue to hold to what we already believe, then we do. It’s called maturity, peeps! Time for this “denomination” to grow up a bit, I reckon. Love all my IB cousins to bits. I pray one day for their release for their heavy heavy yokes. Jesus yoke is light. I’m Lovin it! Thanks Lord ! <3

  16. Mark 25 February, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Sorry, wasnt Penny, it was Mark. ;D

  17. Jeremy 25 February, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    If you want to learn truth about many IFB in a humourous way, then I recommend you visit.

  18. Benjamin Molesworth 25 February, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Good article. I can see how it has some very personal perspectives, but I also think that some of the people who have a problem with parts of this article are also bringing their own bias’ in.

    I left an IB church, after the pastor got up in the pulpit and stated, that many of these things are the rules of their church, and if you didn’t like it, find another church. I personally went to the Pastor after that, and told him that I thought that it was wrong to preach rules, and ignore the Bible. The response was, something like “you are telling me that we are too strict, and last month someone else left because we weren’t strict enough, What am I supposed to do?” To which I responded, “Obey the Bible, do what the Bible says!”

    Funny thing was, I had a problem with the rules before that point, but refused to leave, because I didn’t want to over react on small issues. Who cares if they only want to sing hymns. Who cares if they want you to dress nice. But when I realised that the ‘rules’ took precedence over God’s Word, I had to raise the issue, and subsequently leave, because it wasn’t going to change. It was a shame too, because they were so good at doing church, that it was difficult to find other places so well established in well organised ministries.

    The problem with following rules is, that the rules become more important than the Bible itself. This happened with the Jewish scribes. This happened in the Catholic church with their dogma. In the months before I left that church, the Sunday School teacher taught something that went against the ‘rules’ of the church, and was hounded, which shortly after caused the Pastor to get up and state the church ‘rules’.

    So, although I can see your personal bias coming through here Daniel, I agree with your sentiment, because the Bible is more important than ‘rules’, and should always be given the highest priority.

    I have been surprised over the years, about beliefs that I have had to shed, because it turned out, that it fundamentally disagreed with the Bible.

  19. Elizabeth 7 March, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    BAHAHA, great work.

  20. Neal 16 May, 2012 at 3:47 am

    IFB are changing. I have seen some troubling trends that this author addresses. If any church TELLS (or implies) you how to dress (specifically), leave, and never come back. This is not bibilical its a cult. MOST IBF’s are very similar, been to about 10 in 6 or 7 states, so how they are independent I don’t know. If you are told to only fellowship (talk) with other IFB’s, leave that’s a cult too. A Church should NEVER attempt to control you either. The Holy Spirit and Bible does that just fine. Finally, I feel that IFB’s are having tremendous diffuculty allowing Christians to be Christians.

  21. Bob 9 October, 2012 at 1:36 pm


  22. Christopher 4 December, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Daniel, these things you mentioned that are the “10 unwritten commandments” of the CIB are like the walls that keep error out and the wolves from coming in.It keeps the church from being carnal and worldly. Paul warned us in Acts 20:29-30 KJV – For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” I guess your solution Daniel is to get rid of these things, RIGHT!!! So let’s see, we should start using counterfeit bibles, carnal worldly music. Start fellowshipping with false teachers and preachers. Let the ladies come to church in swimsuits if they want. Don’t warn your people about wolves. Can you imagine what this type of church this would be like? I am sooooo glad you are not my pastor. Hummm, I smell a wolf.

    • Jeremy Crooks 4 December, 2012 at 8:07 pm


      You are not advancing your position by exaggerating hypotheticals that Daniel is not even advocating.

  23. Jason Harris 5 December, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    Wow Christopher… just wow…

    The reader sort of expects the “CIB” to deny that any such ridiculous unwritten rules exist, but to affirm them openly… wow…

    Christopher, do not insinuate that Daniel is a false teacher (“I smell a wolf”) unless you’ve got the courage to stand up and give the evidence for your extremely serious allegations. First, you’d need to use your full, real name. Cowards level allegations anonymously. Second, you’d need to demonstrate that Daniel teaches a false gospel. Third, you’d need to demonstrate that he does so from a solidified and erroneous theology, not merely a careless mistake or a moment of confusion flowing from a still developing theology.

    If you can do so, and can provide another witness on the matter, I’ll be happy to look into it. If Daniel is a false teacher, I’m willing to denounce him publicly on InFocus if necessary for the protection of Christ’s sheep. But every experience I’ve had with Daniel has shown him to be a man of courage, integrity, and passion for God. His theology is sound. His character blameless. His faith tried.

    Put up or shut up.

  24. Mel 7 June, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    Brilliant article, Daniel.

    These extra-Biblical “ten commandments” are used especially within IB circles in order to obtain and maintain control. These rules ultimately result in creating oppressive environments where God actually loses the glory as we are all too busy squabbling over the so-called rules.

    Whilst God is a God of order and law, if He Himself can send His Son to die for us and save us from eternal damnation despite His original “rules”, then who are we to be so judgemental and legalistic ESPECIALLY when our rules are just that – our rules – based on misquoted, wrongly interpreted verses taken completely out of context?

    I, for one, am deeply humbled and grateful for God’s grace and the Lord Jesus’ blood that sets us free.

    To God be the glory.

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