American Secret: The Circumcision Agenda

I’ve written about the morality of circumcision from a secular standpoint, as well as the medieval sages and Victorian doctors who advocated circumcision because it makes sex less pleasurable. I say there’s no justification for circumcising infants who can’t consent, and if you happen to agree with me, here’s your chance to do something about it.

The filmmaker Francelle Wax is directing a documentary titled American Secret: The Circumcision Agenda, about how circumcision became a common practice in America and how it lingers on due to religious and cultural inertia, in spite of a paucity of evidence for any clear medical benefit. She’s previously been interviewed on Friendly Atheist about the project. (My friend and generally awesome person Katie Hartman is also helping out.)

Many of the important interviews have already been shot, but everything that’s been done so far has been self-financed by Francelle, and now they need some help to finish the project. They’re seeking to raise $55,000 on Kickstarter by the end of the month, which will pay for professional editing, additional interviews, and hiring actors to shoot reenactment scenes. In my opinion, this is a project that deserves our support – especially since, the way Kickstarter works, they have to raise the full $55,000 or else get nothing at all.

I grant that circumcision isn’t the worst thing justified by religion. On the other hand, I think it can be a useful way to introduce people to the idea of secular, humanist moral reasoning, precisely because the stakes aren’t sky-high. Millions of American families who have no particular cultural or religious attachment to the idea of circumcision have it performed on their infant sons anyway, out of an unjustified sense of obligation, and that’s where a smart and well-crafted message can have the greatest impact. We can use this case to illustrate how we take human happiness as our watchword, how we demand evidence of benefit before acting, and how we don’t accept tradition or religious authority as an excuse for inflicting suffering on infants or others who can’t consent – and in the process, we can spare people from being subjected to this unnecessary cosmetic amputation of healthy, sensitive tissue, with all the risks and harms that entails. Again, here’s that Kickstarter link:

If you’re willing and able, please chip in and help them out!

UPDATE (6/25): The Kickstarter has been fully funded! Thanks to everyone who pledged.

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About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Arc of Fire, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.