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Is German Ban On Circumcision A Violation Of Religious Law?

June 26th, 2012

Circumcision ban violation of religious law

A German court has raised concerns about religious law amongst Muslims and Jews in that country by banning circumcision.

A district court in Cologne, Germany ruled today that parents should not have the legal privilege to have their sons circumcised on religious grounds. The basis for the ruling was that parents should not be able to subject their children to the “minor bodily harm” caused by the circumcision procedure, regardless of the privileges otherwise entailed by parents’ legal authority over their children.

This decision is expected to change the rules concerning how doctors conduct their practice throughout Germany, something that has provoked the ire of Jewish and Muslim societies there. Preliminary statements made by these groups claim that the Cologne court’s decision violates the right to religious freedom, something that is protected under federal law in Germany, as circumcision is a centuries old tradition for both religions. These groups are also concerned that the ruling will set an unfavorable precedent in Germany’s code of religious law.

The court’s decision was based primarily on health concerns raised by the circumcision, which involves lopping off the foreskin on the penis. The decision was made in regards to a criminal case brought against a Muslim doctor by government authorities; the doctor performed a routine circumcision procedure on a four year old boy who, days later, had to be admitted to a hospital to stem excess bleeding.

Similar arguments concerning circumcision are currently underway in the United States.

In October 2011, activists interested in banning all forms of genital mutilation petitioned the State of California to make performing a circumcision a punishable offense. They were blocked from putting any pro-foreskin bills on the ballot when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that would prevent state and county governments from banning male circumcision and infringing upon parents’ rights to have their sons foreskins sliced off. These anti-circumcision advocates were hoping to have the practice punishable by up to a $1000 fine and a year in jail.

Colorado recently joined the debate over circumcision when it became the seventeenth state in the US to prevent parents from using Medicaid to perform their sons’ procedures in June 2011. This legislation is expected to save the state close to $200,000 a year in covered medical expenses, a welcome relief for a state struggling to create a balanced budget. Both religious and parents’ rights groups have raised their voices in protest of this bill and similar ones in other states.

Please let us know what you think about the subject of circumcision. Is it a religious practice that should be protected by law or is it an antiquated, centuries-old tradition whose advocates should hold no sway in the modern political arena? Would it be a violation of religious law and religious freedom to ban circumcision altogether? Furthermore, would it be acceptable to criminally punish doctors who performed circumcision were the practice to be made illegal? What do you think the most severe punishment should be for a doctor who violates such a law?


  1. Venerable Tam Luc Do says:

    I am not Jewish. Nonetheless I was circumcized shortly after birth without my consent. I know that the foreskin of the penis is especially wired for sexual pleasure. No one should have the authority to do this to babies, infants, toddlers, or anyone under 18 years of age. These sorts of archaic religious rites, based in ignorance and mired in superstition, should not be inflicted upon anyone who cannot defend themselves or are not of a sound adult mind.

    If a young adult wishes to become Jewish and have part of his penis sliced off in a barbaric rite to satisfy superstitious sectarian demands, that’s fine. Let them please their god via penis-slicing. Adults and their insistance on living in the mental flotsam and jetsam of the superstitious past are not my concern unless or until they become unhinged and begin to harm others in their Righteous Vigor. This happens very often as we all know. Circumcision is the tip of the iceberg.

    Artifacts of a dismally ignorant and violent past (such as circum-
    cision) have no place in a modern world informed by medical science.
    Let adults decide for themselves if they will submit to such barbarity.

    Venerable Tam Luc Do
    Chua Tu Hieu Buddhist Temple and Cultural Center of Buffalo NY

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