German Court Cuts Off Religious Circumcisions

I’m not entirely sure how I should feel about this.

A German court has ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent to the procedure.

Cologne state court said the child’s right to physical integrity trumps freedom of religion and parents’ rights, German news agency dapd reported Tuesday.

The case involved a doctor accused of carrying out a circumcision on a 4-year-old that led to medical complications. The doctor was acquitted, however, and prosecutors said they won’t appeal.

Part of me wants to do a little dance to celebrate somebody recognizing the absurdity of hacking off part of a baby’s johnson for religious reasons. It’s the part of me that doesn’t think it should be legal to baptize children, either. they can’t decide these things for themselves and you’re essentially forcing religion upon them, which to my way of thinking is wrong. I silently thank my parents every day for not doing that to me.

But, and this but is huuuuuuuuge, if this ruling stands, where does it stop? Where is the line between parental rights and State control over people’s family life drawn? It’s not completely insane to think that if we start at no penis mutilation, we could end up at don’t let your kids watch certain tv shows or go out biking after a certain hour before we know what happened. I’m not sure that’s a risk I’d be willing to take. It’s short-term gain for long-term pain. Governments and churches for that matter are already way too involved in our lives as it is, so should we really be letting either side have this one?

Circumcision isn’t something that’s dangerous on its face, certainly not nearly as dangerous as naming your kids after Hitler, so I think I’d be inclined to leave well enough alone here. Stopping a ridiculous yet largely harmless (provided the kid can eventually make his own decision) religious practice isn’t worth the assault on personal freedoms.

Thoughts?

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1 comment
  1. I’,m torn too but in the end it comes down, for me, to freedom of religion under our 1st Amendment. Personally, I oppose mutilating babies of either sex. I don’t have any feelings about baptism – most kids are raised according to what their parents believe and a little water never hurt anyone. Once we start regulating the churches, where do we stop? There are limits, even here, (snake handling being one example and bloody transfusions – courts can intervene) but for the most part we leave them alone. San Francisco tried to pass a local anti-circumcision law last year – it didn’t get anywhere.

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