The Possibility of a Schism in the Iglesia Ni Cristo: Was It Inevitable?

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To be honest, while I’ve never really been fond of the Iglesia ni Cristo, I have always found some measure of appreciation for their dedication. With their well-designed places of worship to the disciplined approach its members have always had to their day-to-day living, I have always wondered what the Philippines could be like if the Catholics of the Philippines would adapt the same amount of sincerity and devotion to the teachings of their own religion. Being raised Catholic myself, I honestly don’t think that majority of Catholics even understand what their religion is supposed to be about. Most of them only show up for church on Christmas and Easter or any other special occasion such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.

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Anyway, as of late, it seems the higher-ups of the Iglesia ni Cristo are in a bind as it seems that there is a growing schism between its constituents. The Iglesia ni Cristo was established by Felix Manalo, a former Catholic who disdained the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church at the time. Today, his descendants who will supposedly inherit his authority over the establishment seem to be under threat from other ministers who don’t exactly agree with them. The fact that it has been said that the INC has been becoming stricter is just one sign of great change in their organization.

While I certainly hope the INC can resolve their issues with as little as trouble as possible, history itself proves that religion is every bit as complex and volatile as politics. Also, like politics, religion is prone to change and often at an unprecedented and unexpected way. Could the growing schism amid the ranks of the INC be just history repeating itself when it comes to religion and how, sooner or later, its members begin contradicting one another, resulting in often violent (but I dearly hope not because I think the Filipino people have had enough of religious violence already) conflict and confrontation?

Despite my upbringing, I’m not exactly big on organized religion. While I do believe in God, I will never use Him as an excuse to justify the bad things that I do and I have never used His words to bash people I don’t like. God may have my unwavering faith, but I will never hold the same kind of faith for any human being or an organization of them (such as an organized religion, for instance) as they are flawed in one way or another.

If history serves correct, one can note that any religion splits apart sooner or later because one constituent will not agree with the rest. Then, when that splinter of organized religion grows large enough, it too will split as other members will find something to complain about eventually. The INC, after having grown to such size and wielding considerable influence over the Philippine government, seems to be no exception to this rule and only time will tell how things will turn out although I myself hope that they can at least settle their disputes peacefully.

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36 Comments on “The Possibility of a Schism in the Iglesia Ni Cristo: Was It Inevitable?”

  1. I agree with you that the INC members are indeed dedicated. I worked for an INC owned company and their members are mostly decent people and worked hard DUE to the teachings of the church. They tried to recruit me but I politely declined as I preferred to be agnostic. I did notice though that they have better behavior and morality than most Catholic Filipinos. Of course they had their share of bad people but as far as I know I rarely know of anyone flagrantly violating their moral codes based on religion. I find it sad too what is happening to the INC. I was imagining they would one day dominate the PH religious scene and install a stronger moral compass in most of the populace. Of course I know it is a business. As with all religions.

    1. Some of the Lawyers from INC are Rumored to be low-level political operators for the Church-Endoresed Candidates.

    2. we have an INC officemate and we never talked about his faith. although we sometimes talk about religion, it never really became an issue since culturally we’re both tagalogs (ethnicity plays an important role in a society. it’s a gel that keeps people together). we’re just stooges talking about women all the time. our boss calls him “minister”. hahaha!

  2. The Christian religion split into: Catholic and Protestant, and other Christian denominations. The Islamic Religion split into: Sunni and Shiite. There are many religions. If they grow too big, and too fat. God split them.

    Iglesia ni Kristo, believes Jesus Christ, not as God. If you are “Tiwalag”…”diretso ka sa impiyerno”…If you marry outside the Church…”tiwalag Ka”…If you vote not the INK political candidate…”tiwalag Ka”…

    I don’t believe in Organized Religions. All they do is quarrel, and bad mouth the other religions…this is not love of God, and love of fellowmen, that they preach…

    1. Iglesia ni Kristo, believes Jesus Christ, not as God (True; read the bible).
      If you are “Tiwalag”…”diretso ka sa impiyerno” (Not True not even close)
      …If you marry outside the Church…”tiwalag Ka” (True pero puede magbalik-loob)
      …If you vote not the INK political candidate…”tiwalag Ka”… (Not True, not even close)

      If you want to know more about INC you can visit any of it’s churches around the world mostly in the Philippines, you can also the website INCmedia.org for more details.

      😀

    2. ayon sa colossas 1:18 ISANG KATAWAN AT SI KRISTO ANG ULO. kaya kami organisado. hindi deno-denominasiyon ang relihiyon na kinakaaniban namin. at sa mateo 3:8-10, pinuputol ng diyos ang mga sanga sa puno na hindi nagbubunga ng maganda. at 1 corinto 6:9-10 ang wala sa tama ay hindi magmamana ng kaharian ng langit. siguro kaya ganiyan ka kasi umaasa ka sa sarili mong kakayanan at hindi sa diyos. SINUSUNOD NAMIN ANG UTOS NG DIYOS NA NAKASULAT SA BIBLIA AT HINDI SA TRADISYION. AT FYI, WE USE TO RESPECT YOUR TRADITIONS AND BELIEFS BUT WE REALLY AND FRANKLY DISAGREE WITH IT FOR IT ORIGINATED PAGANOUS. UTOS DIN NG DIOS ANG PAGKAKAISA AT PAGPAPASAKOP SA PAMAMAHALA NIYA SAPAGKAT SA IKATITIBAY NAMIN ITO. ISANDAANG TAON NA ANG IGLESIA NI CRISTO AT PATULOY NA NAGTATAGUMPAY KAYA HINDI KAMI NAG-AALINLANGANG SUMUNOD SA PAMAMAHALA NAMIN

  3. They are following the typical model of large corporations: the father establishes it, the son expands it, the grandchildren squander it. Could not help say that; I saw Ka Angel in the news being interviewed, and the gist of his complaint was misplaced priorities and misused funds and corruption. That is business talk, and for a while, I thought he was talking of the Philippine govt.

    Somehow, it was expected. At their peak, they were about 10 million strong, Now, they are down to 2 million. (which is still a number to reckon with in a close presidential race bcuz they vote as a bloc.) Also, maybe why all of a sudden, they are talking of funds — they don’t have that much as before. They’ve lost a lot of members to Soriano, Villanueva, Velarde, in that order. Biggest today, with about 9million, is that of flamboyant Velarde, but Soriano might benefit the most if INC breaks up.

    1. FYI: Church of God / Dating Daan does not accept money /offerings from non members and everything is free even for non members. Big difference.

  4. Well, take a look at the acronym of the church itself…INC. WHAT? INC ? Its not a corporation, or is it?
    It is nothing but a business.IDC what anyone says, that is what organized religions are, a business.,HA ! Check it out:It is also a really good business to be in: pay no taxes, produce nothing in terms of tangible goods and services (OK, some minister to the poor and sickly but a small # it is.),tell what people what to do, how to behave and how to conduct their lives AND MOST IMPORTANTLY….tell people to just fuckin GIVE YOU 10% of the money they work for every day !!!! and they just hand it over, LOL !!! Some racket eh?
    Add to that: The especially ‘religious’ leaders even get to act all supreme and wordly to the point that people even bow down and kiss their hands.HEY, HUH ? I wish just once one of these really respected ‘leaders’ would turn around and put a moon in someone’s face as they were closing their eyes and about to kiss the ‘leaders’ hand and then have the ‘leader’ turn around,after having his ass-kissed, and laugh in the moron’s face,LOL ! and film it, THAT WOULD GO VIRAL !!!!!

    The INC was correctly named, at least they got that part right, huh? TA-DA !

    1. Work vs tithes – the church thriving because of people’s tithes and not because the leaders and its people work to provide, for their church to thrive. The ministers, priest got their salaries from these tithes, same with church personnel. Religion can now be likened to a charity or causes that asked and collect funds to support their causes and the workers for the cause. In the Old Testament we can find the chosen ones of God managing huge farms and extensive pastures and they even give livelihood to people. Because they work and followed God and work for God and not for men, God has a reason to make them prosper. Even monks farm food to eat. I would like to ask, does religion came from God? Humans founded it. They got the idea to start up an organization for their God then their discipleship become like world domination, they would preach salvation yet you can’t have it when you don’t join and got baptized with their religion. In the long run, the more a person adhere to his religion, the more he believe he has the authority over other people, and the more they judge and separate themselves to those who are not part of their group. And they think that God will favor their members only. That God is for their religion and their members only. How did they get the mysterious and infinite God all figured out eh?

      1. Here in the philippines, once they joined sone religion, i think their brains were left outside of the organization, believing everything their minister says without critical thinking.

  5. There is no great religion without a great schism. All of them have it. And that’s because you’re dealing with something called faith. And faith is not something you can prove; faith is personal opinion.

    Uh, when you’re dealing with something with certainty, like, y’know, science or logic, you don’t have the–there’s no wiggle room; that’s why history is not filled with warring math cults, y’know, because you can settle the issue; you can prove something to be right or wrong, and that’s the end of the argument: next case.

    Whereas, when you’re dealing with faith, you can forever argue your point, or another point, because you’re dealing with intangibles.

    Personally, I think, faith is what you ask of somebody when you don’t have the goods to prove your point.

  6. Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.

  7. Steve Jobs was kicked out of Apple the company he founded; Bonifacio was kicked out of the Katipunan the revolutionary movement he founded, and now the Manalos are being kicked out of INC the religion they founded. The lesson is: not because you’re the founder means you get to keep it forever. Nothing is forever except a genuine relationship with God – now that’s true religion, or a genuine relationship with hell.

    Who knows the GRP founder/team might get kicked out by the GRP editor-in-chief someday – Never saw that one coming eh?

    1. that’s why i don’t 100% adhere to my religion (Roman Catholic). i can be a xtian anytime, anywhere i want.

      i saw a maya bird trapped in my bedroom window, the glass blocks it’s flight path and it’s not realizing that there’s an open space underneath it. it’s 6am in the morning so, i got up and caught easily since there’s no much space for it to move about. i see it so relaxed looking at me, it just flew when i open my hand. as an animal lover i thought to myself, i may never experience it again. it may have been God Himself testing me if i love his creations. so I thanked Him for it.

      we encounter God in simple situations we experience in life.

      when you see an old man who can barely take care of himself in crossing the street and you assisted him, that’s when we encounter Christ/God. not inside a building reading bible with closed doors.

      1. @andrew. Good for you. You’ve crossed from religion to a relationship with your Creator.

        That’s what more Filipinos need to experience – call it whatever you want: rebirth, enlightenment, freedom…

        the next step is to read a lot of near-death experience accounts:

        http://www.divinerevelations.info/

  8. Cults like INC implode easily. Examples include Westboro Baptist who’s founder got excommunicated and left dying.
    Unification church and how a successful leadership struggle plunged the cult into ruin. Order of the solar temple. Branch Davidians.

    and more.

  9. This article of Alex Magno > http://goo.gl/PLhOMS < is the best assessment on the INC topic I have seen so far, IMHO. I agree with him that because INC is not a minor factor in the power equation of PHL, especially during elections, what happens there is also a national issue, even if INC tries to continue to be as secretive as they are.

  10. You will never understand Iglesia Ni Cristo unless you were one of them. it`s easy to bashed them and criticized but without understanding. All of the comments here are purely speculations and envious people, meddling about the issue and all are puzzled unable to understand, envious about what they have especially their money, when it comes to money these people over here are whinning, Hey it`s their money a money that gathered together to a smallest amount and offered. if there`s a corruption they will never have a multiple huge Chappels, and Temple around the world not just in the Philippines but around the world.. you were saying about politics and government clouts influenced of the Iglesia here in the Philippines? You were wrong.. how can they have that in the US, in Europe around Asia and different Countries? Ofcourse you don’t know that, that is because you were just a mere spectator.. Let`s asked is it because of God`s will? You know money is nothing, power is nothing if it`s the will of God no one can stop.

    1. Hi, @d3serique

      Now, you have the most interesting comment here by far for the simple reason that it seems to be coming from somebody who is/ was (?) part of INC. I think quite a number of us are thankful for you taking the time.

      It is quite apparent that all the other comments are from outsiders of INC, and thus, it is correct to say they are speculative in a way. They cannot, however, be comments out of envy. This website encourages critical thinking, and thus the comments here could only be seen from the various objective interests of commenters, which could range from religion and politics in general, the separation of state and religion, the impact of religion on sociology, how large organizations work, how power come into play and how it corrupts, etc, or just about anything to just plain curiosity.

      They may also be puzzled comments as INC is one of those organizations that have opted not to be transparent. The bits and pieces that we know of it are, of course, from friends and acquaintances who are INC members, but who are themselves not very open in discussing their religion with non-members. Is it true, for examples, that members are obligated to tithe 10% of their income? And that if members have been absent from services for certain number of times and thus unable to tithe, they are visited, or checked may be the right word, by leaders? Is it also true that ordinary members are not allowed to own a Bible and that they only get to read it together with leaders during Bible studies? If these are true, these are just a few of what other Christians, and non-Christians as well, find very strange in INC, and thus if the comments are puzzled, they should be understandable. They are strange because our understanding of religion is that it should be reasoned out and/or accepted out of free will, not what seems to be the practice of INC, which is enforced indoctrination. It is of course a perception, and we may be wrong.

      Now, you seem to hint at the rationale why the clout, the influence, of INC on politics and governments is important, and it is because if it has this powerful influence, INC could claim to be on the side of God’s will? Am I understanding you correctly? Is this why you are all the time meddling with critical appointments in key positions in the three branches of government? Is this why you make sure you vote as a bloc, negating nuances that individuals may have in their choice of candidates? My apologies, but that does not seem to be following God’s will, but enforcing a human will, isn’t it? Because of the principle of the separation of Church and State, other churches will avoid meddling with political issues, unless such issues steps into boundaries of theological and/or moral dimensions in which the church is supposed to have its expertise — is this what INC understands too, or not? The way INC is approaching it is that they try to work out enough power within the government so that they could claim later whatever they want to claim; but, isn’t that exhibiting the mentality of scammers? Religion is not about lobbying, but about allowing individuals to appreciate the purpose and rationality of its belief, and that is where its influence is derived from; is this how you understand religion too?

      I can assure you that I have travelled extensively in North America, parts of Central and South America, parts of Africa, almost all of Western Europe, and basically all of Asia and Oceania up to NZ, but I have not seen the influence of INC in any of these places that you allude as the extensive influence of INC. Except for the Philippines, a sections of the Filipino communities in the Greater Los Angeles area, San Francisco and its suburbs, and I think Dallas or Houston, there is no other place where INC even enters as a topic of conversation; in other words, the influence of INC in the world is 0.0001%, or something to that effect, which means zilch. In other words, ask a Mexican, a Canadian, a Dutch, a German, a Jap, a Chinaman, a Tajikstan, a Thai, an Aussie, a Kiwi, etc etc etc — I think you get the point — about INC, and I can assure you they will give you a blank stare. Ask them about Islam, Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Atheism, and I can assure you it will be a different story. INC? Nah!!! Where did you get such an idea about INC; is this again one of those enforced indoctrination?

      Now, I hope you understand why the comments here on INC are such.

      1. 1. Is it true, for examples, that members are obligated to tithe 10% of their income? of course not, better check this 10% to Born Again.

        2. And that if members have been absent from services for certain number of times and thus unable to tithe, they are visited, or checked may be the right word, by leaders? Not even close to reality, reason for visiting a members when they were absent is to know the reason why he/she is absent baka may sakit, problema, may humadlang. Pagsamba is important responsibility to INC, and hindi lang kapag absent ka dinadalaw; ginagawa ito linggo linggo kahit sumasamba ka…this is how why most are the members are very close or at least have this constant trust to each others.

        3. Is it also true that ordinary members are not allowed to own a Bible and that they only get to read it together with leaders during Bible studies? Really? Where did you get this thing? Not true.

        4. Where did you get such an idea about INC; is this again one of those enforced indoctrination? If you want to know more about INC get your fact straight from one of our churches, you will not know it, unless, you will hear it directly from our minister not from here. This is not a venue. You are welcome to ask all of this.

        Thanks 😀

        1. Thanks, @Chris, for clarifying certain things. Unfortunately, I am not interested in knowing more about INC. There are already matters that repulse me about INC from the outside and from the outset. One of these is the effort of INC to be the premier and ultimate power broker and kingmaker. In the last three months alone, your push at some appointments at BOC brought the resignation of that Custom Chief, who finally seem to be a professional one. Today, the new PNP chief is the result of heavy lobbying by INC; of course, he will deny it as he has. In the past, of course, you have always shown obsessiveness for the top positions in NBI, CIDG and ISAFP. Supreme Court is another venue where you lobby a lot to get a Justice appointed to your wish.

          I believe a lot of people are puzzled by this, including me. There are already so many in the hierarchy of governments playing kings in their little and big kingdoms and fiefdoms, from the lowest baranggay tanod who plays siga-siga in his territory to the highest cabinet Sec who manage things by personal whims and with impunity. Don’t you think the people has had enough of this, a major factor in stalling the development of the country? And, why would a church be even involved in these “worldly, materialistic,” things?

    2. By the way, d3serique, the charges of corruption is not coming from commenters, but from Ka Tenny and Ka Angel, the wife and son of the former head of INC, the mother and brother of the current INC head. And you know why it is so believable; it is because it is what every Pedro, Juan, Totoy and Buboy encounter in the Philippines. When they register their car in LTO, release a shipment from BOC, process business papers at DTI and city halls, receive a scary letter from BIR, stopped by a cop for some nebulous traffic violation, etc, etc, you are sure they will be asked for some grease money in order to make their lives less inconvenient. Why is it no one gets the feeling they deserve the best customer service for being taxpayers or just plain Pinoy, or as PNoy say, the real bosses? Here, there is no need to talk about the big ticket items like PDAF, DAP, smuggling, behest loans, tax exceptions, etc.

      And, this is not only true in government, they also happen in the private sector. I am quite familiar with the operations of three Filipino family corporations — in fact, they are quite large, they are conglomerates. Yet, you know what, there is corruption. Try to sell them a raw material, and whether it is a brother, a son, an uncle, a cousin, or some nth degree relative is involved in buying, they will ask you from anywhere to 10% to 30% kickback, and you wonder why they would do that to their own family. In the end, they pay their employees miserable salaries. It is a scary situation; ASEAN Integration is just around the corner, and Philippines does not have a conglomerate that could compete in size, vision, quality, and professionalism with conglomerates of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. In fact, I think you could count with the fingers of your one hand Filipino conglomerates that you could say are runned professionally at world class level.

      But that is not only true for large companies. When you talk of Filipino SMEs, I can tell you the attrition is very, very high. Just look at sari-sari stores, and I can guarantee you 90% of them will fold up within 6months to one year, only because they don’t have the discipline to separate their business money from their personal money. They think business is all about profit and nothing else. But that is not the case. Business is finding a niche, even a small niche, under the sun wherein you may have a product or service by which you could make a percentage of people happy, of course, for a price. But making people happy is first, and profit comes last, only as a by-product of people being happy — It is not the other way around. Ahh, Philippines, why? Arghh.

      So, corruption in INC? It is a revelation. A shock in a way. But then, when one sits down and think: oh gosh, why did I miss that, they are all Filipinos after all, Filipinos that can not be trusted at all when they become stewards of large amount of money. We have the mentality of slaves, not of movers, and you can dress them up in Armani suits and fashion styles of the SONA kind, but they would still be stinking and rotten on the inside. And that is the bitch about living in this country. INC? Yah, I see now that it is no different; it is Filipino!.

      1. By the way, d3serique, the charges of corruption is not coming from commenters, but from Ka Tenny and Ka Angel, the wife and son of the former head of INC, the mother and brother of the current INC head.

        Corruption is not a new thing, granting there is a corruption in INC? so what? you’re not even a member and they are not even asking to give your money to INC? Member are not shocked of this things, we knew it since last year. Kung may korupsyon sa ilang mga ministro ng INC, mayroon silang dapat ipaliwanag sa nakakataas sa kanila, not to you or to those who are not members, it’s not your money, please. So stop whining.

        1. I am not whining, @Chris. As a Filipino, I am just disappointed. If it is true there is corruption in INC, an organization rooted in the Philippines and has a very Filipino character, then we can conclude now that Corruption in the Philippines knows no exception, and that is a very, very sad statement to say of a country.

          Secondly, would you agree to the proposition that there is no such thing as a private sins? Individual sins, whether known or unknown, eventually infects a society one way or the other, agree? I will agree with you that we should NOT take interest in what you do with your money. But, if it becomes known to the public that there is corruption, what is wrong with us joining you in condemning a sin? Or, even just in symphatizing with you? For there is no such thing as a private sin?

        2. I believe that Chris, being a member of the INC, has come in answering, in a very dignified manner, the “accusations” leveled by others. He corrected the misinformation by INC non members in decent way (unlike other, less intellectual or just plain rude members). Now coming from another gentle intellectual like Add (I was beginning to think you are from Ang Dating Daan – hahaha), the exchange, for me, became something more. It was beautiful to see argumentation being classy and enlightening-albeit short. A discourse indeed, not just some MOB ranting, belligerent exchange of I AM BETTER THAN YOU. This is a great break from the last 5 days of mud slinging “kanto style” discussion in mainstream media, social media and “barberya/beauty parlor”. Where gossip, hearsay, put downs and shaming are the requirements.

          For that thank you, guys or gals, or whatever.

      2. Love your line of thinking, Add! You are spot on. Also I have to commend you for a good preview on what happens to the Philippines come ASEAN integration. I do think we have rotten leaders everywhere in the country whether it be in church, politics, businesses, etc. But I also think we have competent leaders who may be (sadly) shadowed by the corrupt and powerful. Our society is one that rewards the wrong kinds of behavior. And so we (largely) end up picking leaders who are the wrong fit to lead. The culture in INC in a way illustrates the Filipino psyche – i.e. we look up to our leaders and celebrate their glory unquestioningly even though there’s really nothing to celebrate.

        Going back to a potential break up in the Church – that may very well be so. As Grimwald pointed out most other major religions in the world have seen such a divide. I wouldn’t account it to a nationality; only to man’s natural tendency to be vain and have an unquenchable thirst for power.

  11. Well well well what can one say apart from Filipinos behaving badly.
    All lying and cheating, robbing and stealing, all accusing someone else.
    Going on the television arms flapping, sporadic temper tantrums, i am not like the rest, i am not a thief, blah blah blah. Crying like little babies.
    On with the show. Old habits never die in the Thieving-Pines

  12. The possibility of schism in the Iglesia ni Cristo: Was it envitable?

    Highly. Like any other religion, there will always who will come out as the “apostate”; the blasphemer; the non-believer. Even in Christ’s group, they are not always on the same page. It just so happened that Christ was there to put things back in order, and order it is because, well, he is the respected high leader. But when he left, the interpretation of his teachings has become “free-for-all” especially to those who were not really directly with him aside from Paul. I remember there was even a story where one disciple sort of caused the death of a couple who are part of their group for continuing to collect tithes despite his opposition to it.

    Humans are so imperfect that sometimes their definition of what is right and wrong will lead to what is most convenient to them if not being shortsighted. The sad part is they’re going to preach it to others. Some religious groups have twisted and bent Christ’s teachings to become agreeable with theirs. Example: Christ said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” – So clear and explicit that it does not need further interpretation and yet, we have religions that promote another human being as a mediator between man and God. Even Yahweh himself (God’s personal name to some Hebrews which is Jehovah to the Witnesses), one of his orders was not saved. Third commandment: “You must NOT MAKE for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.
    You must NOT BOW DOWN to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.” What is it exactly was not understood with “NOT MAKE an idol or image” and “NOT BOW DOWN to them”?

    With the INC, I wonder what is their basis for constructing all of these huge, and seems grandiose structures? I understand neatness, orderliness, being presentable, looking-smart, and cleanliness in places of worship but I cannot understand what is the idea behind such expensive buildings? I don’t remember Christ and the 1st century Christians having the same luxury before.

    1. My my, “Kanto style” bashing! Please refrain form doing that. This comment section has become a very good and very serene exchange of ideas, why destroy it with bigotry?

      Please take your “religion” elsewhere…I believe the true readers of this site will appreciate it

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