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Permit requirement for river baptisms spurs debate

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A budding rift over the use of protected rivers and streams in south-central Missouri for baptisms is over before it really got started.

Republican U.S. Representative Jason Smith raised concerns in a letter this week to Ozark National Scenic Riverways superintendent William Black about permits required for baptisms. The riverways is part of the National Park Service, providing oversight for sections of the Jacks Fork and Current rivers, along with creeks and streams near those rivers.

Smith questioned why a government agency would get in the way of river baptisms, a tradition of rural Missouri life.

Black responded in a letter to Smith Thursday saying the permit issue was a misunderstanding, and that he was clarifying policy to ensure that no permit is required.

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