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Tempers flare over religious circumcision and religious freedom in Germany

Tempers flare over religious circumcision and religious freedom in Germany

The debate over religious circumcision in Germany continues to rage after Chancellor Angela Merkel told her party the country risked becoming a "laughing stock" over a court ruling calling religious circumcision a criminal act, according to a report.

George Ehrmann, president of the German group, "Save the Children," told AFP news that his organization has noted "with concern" that the conversation has drifted to "religious freedom."

"Circumcision is not a religious ritual like baptism. It's an infringement on the child," he said. "The case in Cologne showed that a boy spent ten days in the hospital. This proves that circumcision is not a harmless ritual, but an injury."

Rabbi Pinchas Goldsmith, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, saw the issue as an attack on the Jewish religion. "It is a straightforward attack against the practice of 4,000 years of the Jewish people. [...] It is an attack against the basic tenet of Judaism and it is an attack against the continuity of the Jewish community in Germany. Jews were living in Germany for the last thousand years and if there would be a medical problem, why for the last thousand years, nobody has said one word?"

He said the circumcision medical problem arose from the Muslim community, not the Jewish community, adding that parents who allow their children to participate in dangerous sports like skiing or sailing subject their children to higher risks of injury than circumcision.


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About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • Ronald Goldman, Ph.D.

    Last month a German court in Cologne ruled that circumcising young boys represents grievous "bodily harm." Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., executive director of the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center, a nonprofit educational organization, notes that most of the subsequent discussion has been about "religious rights" and "parental rights" and suggests that we take a closer look at circumcision harm to the child. Dr. Goldman is the author of Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective and Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma. His books are endorsed by rabbis and dozens of professionals in mental health, medicine, and social science, and he has participated in over 200 media interviews with radio and television shows, newspapers, wire services, and periodicals.
    According to Dr. Goldman, "Studies show that circumcision causes significant pain and trauma, behavioral and neurological changes in infants, potential parental stress from persistent crying of infants, disrupted bonding between parent and child, and risk of surgical complications. Sometimes infants do not cry because they are in traumatic shock. Other consequences of circumcision include loss of a natural, healthy, functioning body part, reduced sexual pleasure, and unknown negative effects that have not been studied. Don’t believe men who say, ‘I’m circumcised and I’m fine.’ They do not know what they are missing. Emotional repression may also limit their awareness."
    Dr. Goldman also says that long-term psychological problems connected with circumcision have been documented in clinical reports and surveys of men. "Some circumcised men who understand circumcision resent that they are circumcised. Sexual anxieties, reduced emotional expression, low self-esteem, avoidance of intimacy, and depression are also reported. Some doctors who are aware of the harm (most American doctors are not) refuse to perform circumcisions because of ethical reasons. Relying on presumed authorities is not sufficient because they may have personal, religious, financial, and political conflicts of interest."
    A growing number of Jews are forgoing circumcision because of their increased awareness of the harm. The Jewish Circumcision Resource Center represents Jews around the world who question circumcision. The Center maintains a confidential list of several hundred names of Jews in the United States, Europe, South America, and Israel who did not circumcise a son.
    The majority of the world does not circumcise because of an instinctive awareness of the harm, analogous to cutting off any other healthy body part. JCRC hopes that the renewed discussion about circumcision includes this perspective and makes children's interests the priority.

    • Deborah_B

      Dr. Goldman — I'd love to have you as a guest on our show, if you are interested.

  • Pingback: South African boys die from circumcision rites | God Discussion

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