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Department of Things Germany Shouldn’t Be Banning

Religious circumcision.

by
Zack Beauchamp
June 26, 2012
Isaac's circumcision from the Regensburg Pentateuch, made in Germany circa 1300.(By Rachel-Esther/Flickr.)

Isaac’s circumcision from the Regensburg Pentateuch, made in Germany circa 1300.(By Rachel-Esther/Flickr.)

A Cologne district court ruled on Tuesday that parents may not have their sons circumcised for religious reasons. The ruling has angered Muslims and Jews. Non-medical circumcision is a “serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” the court declared, essentially criminalizing religious circumcisions performed by Jews and Muslims, the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper reported.

I must confess to having mixed feelings about circumcision: There’s a compelling argument that it’s a violation of a child’s rights to bodily integrity, but not an ironclad one. Combine the ambiguity about the rights question with the potential medical benefits of circumcision, and it’s an entirely unsettled question. We don’t override religious freedom protections for unsettled questions.

And certainly not in Germany.

German Court Criminalizes Religious Circumcision [Jewish Press]

Zack Beauchamp contributes to Andrew Sullivan’s “The Dish” at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. His Twitter feed is @zackbeauchamp.

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