Circumcision Outlawed ... Even for Religious Purposes

Say What!? 196

scissorsYou’d think the Germans would have more respect for Jewish religious traditions, you know, considering that whole Holocaust thing. Which is why I was shocked to hear that the country outlawed circumcision this week even for religious purposes.

I told a friend who grew up in Germany about this, and she said it didn’t surprise her. Her exact words were, “No one gets circumcised in Germany ... there are nude beaches, and well, you see things. And I can tell you circumcision is very uncommon.”

I understand that circumcision is not necessary, and that the growing trend in the United States is to leave baby boys intact. Only about a third of boys born here are now without foreskin. As a mom to two daughters, it’s a decision my husband and I have never had to make, but I can imagine it can be a difficult. Since I have no strong opinion on it one way or the other, I’d probably let Dad decide.

That’s a choice that I believe should belong to the parents, not the government. Not even San Francisco was crazy enough to actually ban circumcision. There are health pros and cons on both sides, and anyone that’s ever visited a parenting website knows that the debate can be hot, but ultimately, it comes down to mom and dad making the best decision they can for their son.

Sometimes the verdict of whether to cut or not is made by a couple’s religion. The most famous faith requiring circumcision is Judaism, which calls for a bris on a baby boy’s eighth day after birth. It’s a special ceremony, blessing and marking the child for God, and it’s really important in the Jewish faith. Boys aren’t even officially named until their bris.

For a government to come in and deny parents the right to act in accordance with their religious traditions is atrocious. This is about a simple procedure that has virtually no negative effects if performed in a sterile environment by a trained professional. It’s not like we’re talking about female circumcision that has brutal consequences for the poor girls that endure that torture. That I’m ok with banning.

Holm Putzke, a University of Passau jurist, told the Financial Times Deutschland (which broke the story), “As opposed to many politicians, the court was not deterred by fears of being criticized for anti-Semitism or hostility toward religion.”

Oh good, I’m glad to know they don’t care if they’re anti-Semites or not. You know who else didn’t care about being anti-Semitic? Hitler. Just saying.


Image via Public Domain Photos/Flickr

discrimination, baby health, circumcision, religion


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Sierr... SierraLynn

It's the parents decsion. Plain and simple. Government has no right to make it for them.

jalaz77 jalaz77

Government should worry about political issues and not what parents decide is best for their children.

Beverly Dale

I understand that there is no reason to shock a baby with extreme pain when if a mother would teach her little boy good health on the correct way to clean this area, there would be no problem. Correct me please if i am wrong. Thanks

Kritika Kritika

They don't do it in the country where I'm from but it's not law, I don't think. As the wife of someone that's not cut (from the same country), and not to be TMI, I much prefer it that way! It's how nature intended. I think the US is the nearly the only other country next to Isreal that actually still widely does this...people are sheep...

Kritika Kritika

Beverly no, you're not wrong!

nonmember avatar Nicky

I agree with this decision. You would not be saying "Oh it's the parents' decision" if these were girls we were talking about. It's an outdated practice that needs to be abolished. It's simply not necessary. I'm sure people in Africa and elsewhere who circumcise girls do so under a cloak of religious practices. How is that different from Jewish reasons? I'm sure many of you think I'm an extremist, be it. Americans are the only "educated" people who still circumcise routinely.

nonmember avatar Trixie

Stupid things are done in the name of religion all the time. Doesn't make it right. I'm glad to see Germany take such a hard stance.

Chava Shaw

Beverly, I dont think you quite understand. Religious circumcision has nothing to do with cleanliness but is a religious requirement. It invites the child into the fold of his people and it has been done this way since Abraham. Its a very special custom done by jewish people and is an important part of our religion. To outlaw this is to say we cant practise our religion freely and for Germany of all countries to outlaw this is shocking.

nonmember avatar Me

You have to wonder if Germany is doing this as more of an expression of anti-Turkish sentiment, since Turks make up approximately 5% of the German population now. There have been several instances of discrimination/prejudice against Turkish immigrants in the last few years, and since most Turkish men are circumcised, I wonder how much of this is an anti-Turkish law, rather than anti-Jewish or anti-circ.

Kritika Kritika

Chava, unfortunately "cleanliness" is the reason cited for circumcision by the majority if not all non-jewish parents.

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