Banning circumcision?

San Francisco is considering a bill that would ban circumcision.  There would be no religious exemptions.  Voters will vote on the measure in November.  Now it turns out that the author of the bill runs an anti-semitic website:

Author of SF’s Anti Circumcision Initiative Engages in Disturbing Anti Semitic Advocacy » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

This is another attempt to use government power to suppress religion.  The target in this case, once again, is the Jews.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Matthew Surburg

    As one who regularly performs circumcisions in medical practice, I tell my patients that, except for those whose faith mandates it, circumcision is basically a cosmetic procedure. It’s true that most boys in the United States are circumcised, so there’s the factor of, well, looking like the other guys in the locker room. At the same time, there is a growing movement not to circumcise, so boys who aren’t circumcised wouldn’t be the only ones around. There is some argument in favor of circumcision on hygienic grounds, but my understanding is that the data supporting this is weak, at best. I would be interested in seeing literature supporting this, but I haven’t seen it yet.

    I’ve never been quite clear on how circumcision came to be nearly ubiquitous in the U.S. I know that there are those who consider it barbaric and immoral (never mind that the same people frequently reject absolute categories of right and wrong in other areas, say, abortion), and I’ll admit that I can see their point of view. Nevertheless, while we of the New Covenant are not bound by the Old Covenant, it seems to me that God would not have commanded it for an entire nation if it were truly immoral.

  • Matthew Surburg

    As one who regularly performs circumcisions in medical practice, I tell my patients that, except for those whose faith mandates it, circumcision is basically a cosmetic procedure. It’s true that most boys in the United States are circumcised, so there’s the factor of, well, looking like the other guys in the locker room. At the same time, there is a growing movement not to circumcise, so boys who aren’t circumcised wouldn’t be the only ones around. There is some argument in favor of circumcision on hygienic grounds, but my understanding is that the data supporting this is weak, at best. I would be interested in seeing literature supporting this, but I haven’t seen it yet.

    I’ve never been quite clear on how circumcision came to be nearly ubiquitous in the U.S. I know that there are those who consider it barbaric and immoral (never mind that the same people frequently reject absolute categories of right and wrong in other areas, say, abortion), and I’ll admit that I can see their point of view. Nevertheless, while we of the New Covenant are not bound by the Old Covenant, it seems to me that God would not have commanded it for an entire nation if it were truly immoral.

  • Amy

    IMO, routine infant circumcision should not be practiced except in cases of religious mandate or certain rare medical circumstances. But I do not understand how this bill can seek to ban religious exemptions — isn’t religious freedom one of the basic tenets of our country? From what I understand, circumcision is to Jews what baptism is to Christians. You can’t just take away an entire religion’s right to share their faith with their babies.

  • Amy

    IMO, routine infant circumcision should not be practiced except in cases of religious mandate or certain rare medical circumstances. But I do not understand how this bill can seek to ban religious exemptions — isn’t religious freedom one of the basic tenets of our country? From what I understand, circumcision is to Jews what baptism is to Christians. You can’t just take away an entire religion’s right to share their faith with their babies.

  • Louis

    Moslems also circumcise, as do many African tribes, such as the Nguni tribes (Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi). In the latter case it is part of a manhood ceremony, somewhere between ages 12 and 18.

    but I must confess, I do not understand the prevalence of non-religious cirumcision in North America – when did it become so common-place?

  • Louis

    Moslems also circumcise, as do many African tribes, such as the Nguni tribes (Zulu, Xhosa, Swazi). In the latter case it is part of a manhood ceremony, somewhere between ages 12 and 18.

    but I must confess, I do not understand the prevalence of non-religious cirumcision in North America – when did it become so common-place?

  • Tom Hering

    “… when did it become so common-place?”

    Penis. Sharp knife. Suffragettes? :-D

  • Tom Hering

    “… when did it become so common-place?”

    Penis. Sharp knife. Suffragettes? :-D

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Time to send Mel Brooks/ Rabbi Tuckmann to San Fran to help them out…. :^)

    Seriously, I think that the practice of infant circumcision among gentiles has to do with both a touch of replacement theology in the Victorian age and later, cleanliness concerns, and also the fact that evidently there’s a lot of nerve endings in the “tip.” Removing it was supposed to reduce the chances for compulsive self-pleasuring, if you catch my drift.

    And I wonder if “Captain Foreskin” has a clue that beaning a mohel with a pool ball while he’s performing a bris could have some, um, disastrous consequences for the wee lad. I’m guessing no. Clues seem to be in short supply in the radicalized areas of that fair city.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com bike bubba

    Time to send Mel Brooks/ Rabbi Tuckmann to San Fran to help them out…. :^)

    Seriously, I think that the practice of infant circumcision among gentiles has to do with both a touch of replacement theology in the Victorian age and later, cleanliness concerns, and also the fact that evidently there’s a lot of nerve endings in the “tip.” Removing it was supposed to reduce the chances for compulsive self-pleasuring, if you catch my drift.

    And I wonder if “Captain Foreskin” has a clue that beaning a mohel with a pool ball while he’s performing a bris could have some, um, disastrous consequences for the wee lad. I’m guessing no. Clues seem to be in short supply in the radicalized areas of that fair city.

  • Tom Hering

    Bike, Ha Ha Ha! “Circumcisions, Special Today! Half Off!” :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Bike, Ha Ha Ha! “Circumcisions, Special Today! Half Off!” :-D

  • Cincinnatus

    Matthew@1: God cannot decree anything immoral because there is no standard of morality that exists outside and above his person/will, no?

    Anyway, regardless of the unspecified hygienic benefits (or lack thereof) of circumcision, I suspect this law, were it passed, would be struck down by the Supreme Court, if not the 9th Circuit, lickety-split. In my opinion, it’s a fairly clear-cut case of requiring a religious exemption, at the very least.

  • Cincinnatus

    Matthew@1: God cannot decree anything immoral because there is no standard of morality that exists outside and above his person/will, no?

    Anyway, regardless of the unspecified hygienic benefits (or lack thereof) of circumcision, I suspect this law, were it passed, would be struck down by the Supreme Court, if not the 9th Circuit, lickety-split. In my opinion, it’s a fairly clear-cut case of requiring a religious exemption, at the very least.

  • Grace

    This might help those who don’t understand the hygienic reasons for “Circumcision”

    Who gets penile cancer?

    “Only about 1,500 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, so the disease accounts for less than 1% of all malignancies in American men. But it’s much more common in Asia, Africa, and South America, where it constitutes 10%–20% of all male malignancies. There are three explanations for this wide disparity.

    Circumcision. Penile cancer is almost unheard of in Jewish males, who are traditionally circumcised on the eighth day of life. It is only slightly more common in Muslims, who often delay circumcision until sometime between the ages of 3 and 13. But circumcision in adulthood is not protective. All in all, circumcision reduces the risk of penile cancer by over 70%, with infant circumcision the most beneficial.

    Hygiene. By removing the foreskin, circumcision prevents phimosis, a condition in which the foreskin adheres tightly to the glans, or tip of the penis. If the foreskin cannot be retracted, inflammation and infection can develop and a layer of debris called smegma can build up. Doctors believe that over time, this chronic irritation can lead to cancer. But good hygiene will prevent chronic irritation. In fact, soap and water are nearly as protective as circumcision.

    Sexually transmitted infection. In this case, the culprit appears to be the human papilloma virus (HPV), or at least two strains of the critter (HPV-16 and HPV-18). In recent studies, evidence of HPV has been detected in 30%–80% of penile cancers

    http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update1205d.shtml

  • Grace

    This might help those who don’t understand the hygienic reasons for “Circumcision”

    Who gets penile cancer?

    “Only about 1,500 cases are diagnosed in the United States each year, so the disease accounts for less than 1% of all malignancies in American men. But it’s much more common in Asia, Africa, and South America, where it constitutes 10%–20% of all male malignancies. There are three explanations for this wide disparity.

    Circumcision. Penile cancer is almost unheard of in Jewish males, who are traditionally circumcised on the eighth day of life. It is only slightly more common in Muslims, who often delay circumcision until sometime between the ages of 3 and 13. But circumcision in adulthood is not protective. All in all, circumcision reduces the risk of penile cancer by over 70%, with infant circumcision the most beneficial.

    Hygiene. By removing the foreskin, circumcision prevents phimosis, a condition in which the foreskin adheres tightly to the glans, or tip of the penis. If the foreskin cannot be retracted, inflammation and infection can develop and a layer of debris called smegma can build up. Doctors believe that over time, this chronic irritation can lead to cancer. But good hygiene will prevent chronic irritation. In fact, soap and water are nearly as protective as circumcision.

    Sexually transmitted infection. In this case, the culprit appears to be the human papilloma virus (HPV), or at least two strains of the critter (HPV-16 and HPV-18). In recent studies, evidence of HPV has been detected in 30%–80% of penile cancers

    http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update1205d.shtml

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    It seems to me that Christians have allowed themselves to be suppressed even more that other religions…over the long haul-
    http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/now-we-need-permission-to-make-sign-of.html
    As I h/t in the post above this- one –some are standing up…to NARAL -one example…
    look to my comment in the Cranach post…
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ Carol-Christian Soldier

    It seems to me that Christians have allowed themselves to be suppressed even more that other religions…over the long haul-
    http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/now-we-need-permission-to-make-sign-of.html
    As I h/t in the post above this- one –some are standing up…to NARAL -one example…
    look to my comment in the Cranach post…
    C-CS

  • Grace

    Who would have ever guessed?

    “Now it turns out that the author of the bill runs an anti-semitic website:

  • Grace

    Who would have ever guessed?

    “Now it turns out that the author of the bill runs an anti-semitic website:

  • Grace

    Matthew Surburg – 1

    “As one who regularly performs circumcisions in medical practice, I tell my patients that, except for those whose faith mandates it, circumcision is basically a cosmetic procedure.

    If you are a physician, I find it strange you made this comment.

    “There is some argument in favor of circumcision on hygienic grounds, but my understanding is that the data supporting this is weak, at best. I would be interested in seeing literature supporting this, but I haven’t seen it yet.

    See post #8 from Harvard.

  • Grace

    Matthew Surburg – 1

    “As one who regularly performs circumcisions in medical practice, I tell my patients that, except for those whose faith mandates it, circumcision is basically a cosmetic procedure.

    If you are a physician, I find it strange you made this comment.

    “There is some argument in favor of circumcision on hygienic grounds, but my understanding is that the data supporting this is weak, at best. I would be interested in seeing literature supporting this, but I haven’t seen it yet.

    See post #8 from Harvard.

  • Matthew Surburg

    Grace,
    Thank you for the helpful link. While this asserts a correlation between circumcision and penile cancer, correlation does not necessarily prove causation. Even given that circumcision is associated with a reduced risk, this is only one of several possible explanations given. There are significant differences between the U.S. and developing countries in terms of lifestyle and health habits: witness the drastically different rates of HIV infection. Proper hygiene for an uncircumcised man may require more effort, but circumcision is not the only way this can be accomplished. I will therefore stand by my statement that it is a cosmetic procedure. Of course, there are exceptions when it may be necessary for other medical reasons, but that’s not the main point here.

    I hasten to add that I am certainly not an anti-circumcision activist, or I wouldn’t perform them (yes, I am a physician).

  • Matthew Surburg

    Grace,
    Thank you for the helpful link. While this asserts a correlation between circumcision and penile cancer, correlation does not necessarily prove causation. Even given that circumcision is associated with a reduced risk, this is only one of several possible explanations given. There are significant differences between the U.S. and developing countries in terms of lifestyle and health habits: witness the drastically different rates of HIV infection. Proper hygiene for an uncircumcised man may require more effort, but circumcision is not the only way this can be accomplished. I will therefore stand by my statement that it is a cosmetic procedure. Of course, there are exceptions when it may be necessary for other medical reasons, but that’s not the main point here.

    I hasten to add that I am certainly not an anti-circumcision activist, or I wouldn’t perform them (yes, I am a physician).

  • DonS

    When our sons were born, we researched the issue, and determined to circumcise them, in part because of studies we read at the time offering a probability of reduced risk of certain disease, such as penile cancer. We faced surprising resistance from the physician attending the birth of our oldest son, which was strange to us, given the common nature of the procedure. I remember that the research, at the time, was not conclusive, and the medical community regarded the procedure as completely elective, though it was covered by insurance. I think there have been studies since which have reported strengthened correlations between circumcision and disease risk reduction, but since we are no longer birthing baby boys, I have not seriously evaluated it.

    In any event, I agree with Cincinnatus that there is no way this ban should stand up to legal challenge, should it pass. It is a clear infringement on the religious rights of many Americans of multiple faiths, at a minimum, and another example of the increasing tendency of intolerant bigots to attempt to force their world view on others.

  • DonS

    When our sons were born, we researched the issue, and determined to circumcise them, in part because of studies we read at the time offering a probability of reduced risk of certain disease, such as penile cancer. We faced surprising resistance from the physician attending the birth of our oldest son, which was strange to us, given the common nature of the procedure. I remember that the research, at the time, was not conclusive, and the medical community regarded the procedure as completely elective, though it was covered by insurance. I think there have been studies since which have reported strengthened correlations between circumcision and disease risk reduction, but since we are no longer birthing baby boys, I have not seriously evaluated it.

    In any event, I agree with Cincinnatus that there is no way this ban should stand up to legal challenge, should it pass. It is a clear infringement on the religious rights of many Americans of multiple faiths, at a minimum, and another example of the increasing tendency of intolerant bigots to attempt to force their world view on others.

  • Joe

    Our son was born 8 years ago. At that time, my wife and I read copious amounts of material on the issue and talked with our pediatrician about it. We concluded that any marginal health benefits from the old snip could be replicated by good personal hygiene. I should note that we started the research from the position of thinking we should circumcise the boy.

    of course, that was 8 years ago. I have not kept up on the debate.

  • Joe

    Our son was born 8 years ago. At that time, my wife and I read copious amounts of material on the issue and talked with our pediatrician about it. We concluded that any marginal health benefits from the old snip could be replicated by good personal hygiene. I should note that we started the research from the position of thinking we should circumcise the boy.

    of course, that was 8 years ago. I have not kept up on the debate.

  • DonS

    Joe @ 14: I think that’s pretty much what we found. The studies showed that good personal hygiene compensates for the lack of circumcision. We just weren’t convinced that our boys would necessarily always be scrupulous about their hygiene, particularly in more private areas.

  • DonS

    Joe @ 14: I think that’s pretty much what we found. The studies showed that good personal hygiene compensates for the lack of circumcision. We just weren’t convinced that our boys would necessarily always be scrupulous about their hygiene, particularly in more private areas.

  • Louis

    Grace – I have to go with Matthew here. Some correlation does not mean causation. Also, the article fails in 2 other areas: It does not correlate cancer rates with non-circumcising first world nations (Europe, Japan), and it fails to take into account that circumcision is very common in Africa – see my post@3.

  • Louis

    Grace – I have to go with Matthew here. Some correlation does not mean causation. Also, the article fails in 2 other areas: It does not correlate cancer rates with non-circumcising first world nations (Europe, Japan), and it fails to take into account that circumcision is very common in Africa – see my post@3.

  • Joe

    DonS @ 15 “We just weren’t convinced that our boys would necessarily always be scrupulous about their hygiene, particularly in more private areas.”

    This is a good point.

  • Joe

    DonS @ 15 “We just weren’t convinced that our boys would necessarily always be scrupulous about their hygiene, particularly in more private areas.”

    This is a good point.

  • Louis

    Actually, it is enlightening to look into the history of circumcision in the US. Apparently the big push came in the early years of the 20th century – and this was done by obstetricians and gynaecologists, interestingly – who advocated circumcision at birth – sometimes even before the child had fully emerged. Of course, one obstetrician started selling a device to do this – and as with many things, follow the $$ ! The claims regarding health etc then made were made without decent research.

    Then, during the First World War, within the climate created by these obstetricians and gynaecologists (note – non-male specialising doctors, Tom’s joke might be quite near the truth!), the US Army decided to forcibly circumcise all troops, to prevent the spread of veneral disease. Thus the culture of male circumcision in America was born….

    Interestingly, much of the same was happening in the UK. But after WW2, with the creation of the NHS, and the extreme damage to the econmy, infrastructure etc., the willingness of doctors to do circumcision declined rapidly.

    Thus it seems that male circumcision in the US is a comparatively recent cultural phenomenon.

  • Louis

    Actually, it is enlightening to look into the history of circumcision in the US. Apparently the big push came in the early years of the 20th century – and this was done by obstetricians and gynaecologists, interestingly – who advocated circumcision at birth – sometimes even before the child had fully emerged. Of course, one obstetrician started selling a device to do this – and as with many things, follow the $$ ! The claims regarding health etc then made were made without decent research.

    Then, during the First World War, within the climate created by these obstetricians and gynaecologists (note – non-male specialising doctors, Tom’s joke might be quite near the truth!), the US Army decided to forcibly circumcise all troops, to prevent the spread of veneral disease. Thus the culture of male circumcision in America was born….

    Interestingly, much of the same was happening in the UK. But after WW2, with the creation of the NHS, and the extreme damage to the econmy, infrastructure etc., the willingness of doctors to do circumcision declined rapidly.

    Thus it seems that male circumcision in the US is a comparatively recent cultural phenomenon.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Religious freedom in this country has never been absolute. It always has to be balanced with other rights. If this were a bill banning female genital cutting/mutilation/circumcision, which also has religious aspects to it, I don’t think the cries of religious freedom would be as loud. But then, doing that to females is practically unheard of for Americans, sounding very foreign and barbaric, and certainly not found in any popular religious texts. For males, on the other hand, it’s a fairly accepted, if not outright popular, practice.

    I agree with Bubba (@5) that there’s likely some bad theology going on with regard to why circumcision is so popular here. And there’s the fitting-in thing in the locker room, sure. Not to mention dads feeling odd for having a son whose genitals look different than his — in my opinion, this might contribute the most to the practice’s longevity: “Okay, but how do I teach him to take care of that, if I don’t know myself?”

    I think the research is fairly ambivalent, and can be culled to favor whatever position you were leaning towards. I tend to think it’s a more emotional decision, ultimately, than any research would answer.

    I also think Matthew (@1) made a good point, though, in that circumcision probably isn’t all that bad (in the sense of either immoral or physically harmful) if God commanded it for the Israelites.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Religious freedom in this country has never been absolute. It always has to be balanced with other rights. If this were a bill banning female genital cutting/mutilation/circumcision, which also has religious aspects to it, I don’t think the cries of religious freedom would be as loud. But then, doing that to females is practically unheard of for Americans, sounding very foreign and barbaric, and certainly not found in any popular religious texts. For males, on the other hand, it’s a fairly accepted, if not outright popular, practice.

    I agree with Bubba (@5) that there’s likely some bad theology going on with regard to why circumcision is so popular here. And there’s the fitting-in thing in the locker room, sure. Not to mention dads feeling odd for having a son whose genitals look different than his — in my opinion, this might contribute the most to the practice’s longevity: “Okay, but how do I teach him to take care of that, if I don’t know myself?”

    I think the research is fairly ambivalent, and can be culled to favor whatever position you were leaning towards. I tend to think it’s a more emotional decision, ultimately, than any research would answer.

    I also think Matthew (@1) made a good point, though, in that circumcision probably isn’t all that bad (in the sense of either immoral or physically harmful) if God commanded it for the Israelites.

  • Joe

    As to the legal question wrt a lack of a religious exception. The San Fran folks are taking guidance from the Supreme Court’s ruling that a law of general application that is not specifically aimed at religious practices does not offend the Constitution.

    Employment Division v. Smith. Employment division dealt with a ban on the possession of peyote for any purpose. The law was up held because it was not aimed at preventing the free exercises of religion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment_Division_v._Smith

    Given the apparent antisemitism of the author, there may be evidence to get around this case. Another distinction may be that this law bans an actual ceremony as opposed to the mere possession of a substance. The banning of the actual ceremony gives a litigant a much stronger position. the litigant could rely on the majority opinion in Employment Division. There the Court held that the statute was okay because it did not ban a physical act that manifested out of a religious belief.

  • Joe

    As to the legal question wrt a lack of a religious exception. The San Fran folks are taking guidance from the Supreme Court’s ruling that a law of general application that is not specifically aimed at religious practices does not offend the Constitution.

    Employment Division v. Smith. Employment division dealt with a ban on the possession of peyote for any purpose. The law was up held because it was not aimed at preventing the free exercises of religion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment_Division_v._Smith

    Given the apparent antisemitism of the author, there may be evidence to get around this case. Another distinction may be that this law bans an actual ceremony as opposed to the mere possession of a substance. The banning of the actual ceremony gives a litigant a much stronger position. the litigant could rely on the majority opinion in Employment Division. There the Court held that the statute was okay because it did not ban a physical act that manifested out of a religious belief.

  • mendicus

    I agree that the law, if passed, would be unlikely to survive legal challenge because it’s unconstitutional on its face, freedom-lovers would hate it, and nanny-staters would see Muslim victims that need their protection from it. Not much left in the way judicial support for the thing.

    That being said, I wouldn’t think it’s necessarily a slam dunk. The Supremes have held that practitioners of the Santeria religion can be precluded from smoking peyote (which apparently is an important component of some of their rituals), where the drug is outlawed by laws of general applicability. There are some obvious differences between that case and this, but nothing an activist judge couldn’t overlook if so inclined.

  • mendicus

    I agree that the law, if passed, would be unlikely to survive legal challenge because it’s unconstitutional on its face, freedom-lovers would hate it, and nanny-staters would see Muslim victims that need their protection from it. Not much left in the way judicial support for the thing.

    That being said, I wouldn’t think it’s necessarily a slam dunk. The Supremes have held that practitioners of the Santeria religion can be precluded from smoking peyote (which apparently is an important component of some of their rituals), where the drug is outlawed by laws of general applicability. There are some obvious differences between that case and this, but nothing an activist judge couldn’t overlook if so inclined.

  • mendicus

    Joe beat me to the punch and got it right. Thanks.

  • mendicus

    Joe beat me to the punch and got it right. Thanks.

  • Grace

    The site below gives added information regarding disease, hygiene and other factors to be considered.

    Circumcision – Penile Hygiene

    http://www.circinfo.net/penile_hygiene.html

  • Grace

    The site below gives added information regarding disease, hygiene and other factors to be considered.

    Circumcision – Penile Hygiene

    http://www.circinfo.net/penile_hygiene.html

  • DonS

    tODD @ 19: You are right that religious freedoms in America are not absolute. The right to free exercise is subject only to a standard of intermediate scrutiny, rather than strict scrutiny, meaning that laws of general application (i.e. those laws not targeting religious practice in particular), as long as they are not specifically discriminatory toward religious practice, will be found constitutional, as long as the challenged law furthers an important government interest by means that are substantially related to that interest.

    As Joe says above, it’s easy to see that this law shouldn’t pass that test. What is the important government interest at stake here, first of all? This law was not proposed by a deliberative legislative body, but is rather a proposition put on the ballot by an apparently anti-Semitic zealot. Male circumcision has never been shown to do harm to those undergoing the procedure, or to bear any measurable deleterious side effects. The research that exists instead shows modest health benefits. It is also known to be an important religious practice for prominent faith groups here in the U.S., raising questions as to whether the law is truly one of general application.

    It is also easy to distinguish male circumcision from female circumcision, which does not offer known health benefits, and is known to have seriously deleterious health effects to the females undergoing the procedure. In fact, the imposition of these deleterious health effects is the very reason for the procedure. It is easy to see the important interest the government would have in banning that procedure, in order to protect the health and well being of females otherwise forced to undergo the procedure without choice. It is for these same reasons that Christian Scientists are not permitted to deny reasonable medical care to their children, and that JW’s are often challenged when they attempt to prohibit life saving blood transfusions for their children.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 19: You are right that religious freedoms in America are not absolute. The right to free exercise is subject only to a standard of intermediate scrutiny, rather than strict scrutiny, meaning that laws of general application (i.e. those laws not targeting religious practice in particular), as long as they are not specifically discriminatory toward religious practice, will be found constitutional, as long as the challenged law furthers an important government interest by means that are substantially related to that interest.

    As Joe says above, it’s easy to see that this law shouldn’t pass that test. What is the important government interest at stake here, first of all? This law was not proposed by a deliberative legislative body, but is rather a proposition put on the ballot by an apparently anti-Semitic zealot. Male circumcision has never been shown to do harm to those undergoing the procedure, or to bear any measurable deleterious side effects. The research that exists instead shows modest health benefits. It is also known to be an important religious practice for prominent faith groups here in the U.S., raising questions as to whether the law is truly one of general application.

    It is also easy to distinguish male circumcision from female circumcision, which does not offer known health benefits, and is known to have seriously deleterious health effects to the females undergoing the procedure. In fact, the imposition of these deleterious health effects is the very reason for the procedure. It is easy to see the important interest the government would have in banning that procedure, in order to protect the health and well being of females otherwise forced to undergo the procedure without choice. It is for these same reasons that Christian Scientists are not permitted to deny reasonable medical care to their children, and that JW’s are often challenged when they attempt to prohibit life saving blood transfusions for their children.

  • Cincinnatus

    And what about Wisconsin v. Yoder? Its “hybrid issue” theory hasn’t been specifically overturned.

  • Cincinnatus

    And what about Wisconsin v. Yoder? Its “hybrid issue” theory hasn’t been specifically overturned.

  • Stan

    If an advocate of female circumcision used cancer of the vulva as a justification for cutting off a girl’s labia, we would be outraged. In my opinion there is no ethical difference between someone using cancer of the penis as a justification for cutting the genitals of boys and someone using cancer of the vulva as a justification for cutting the genitals of girls. It is time to end the sexist double standard!

  • Stan

    If an advocate of female circumcision used cancer of the vulva as a justification for cutting off a girl’s labia, we would be outraged. In my opinion there is no ethical difference between someone using cancer of the penis as a justification for cutting the genitals of boys and someone using cancer of the vulva as a justification for cutting the genitals of girls. It is time to end the sexist double standard!

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, call me an horrific, barbaric rube, but, in all sincerity, I don’t really understand the intrinsic problem with female “circumcision” (which is a qualitatively different procedure, of course) as compared against male circumcision. Someone enlighten me.

    The double standard, which may or may not be sexist, seems to cut both ways.

    Heh…”cut.”

  • Cincinnatus

    Actually, call me an horrific, barbaric rube, but, in all sincerity, I don’t really understand the intrinsic problem with female “circumcision” (which is a qualitatively different procedure, of course) as compared against male circumcision. Someone enlighten me.

    The double standard, which may or may not be sexist, seems to cut both ways.

    Heh…”cut.”

  • Grace

    Disease trasmitted from male to female . . uncircumcised males is MUCH HIGHER than those who are circumcised.

    Bacterial Vaginosis in Women
    Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is one of the most common infections in women. Symptoms of BV may include a watery, white or grey discharge instead of normal vaginal secretions, and a strong or unusual odor from the vagina, often described as a ‘fishy’ odor. The condition is characterized by a shift in the composition of vaginal microbial communities from the normal healthy bacteria – in particular lactic acid-producing lactobacilli – which become replaced by an overgrowth of various other bacteria, notably strict anaerobes, and an elevation in vaginal pH (i.e., an increase in alkalinity of the vaginal fluid).

    Bacterial vaginosis is sexually transmitted, as shown by an Australian meta-analysis [Fethers et al., 2008]. This systematic review and meta-analysis showed that the epidemiology of bacterial vaginosis appeared to be similar to that of established STIs [Fethers et al., 2008].

    A longitudinal study in Pittsburg of 773 women without BV at enrolment found that over one year, those whose partners were uncircumcised were twice as likely to have BV [Cherpes et al., 2008]. Two small US studies, thus having limited power, were unable to find an association, however [Zenilman et al.; Schwebke & Desmond, 2005]. The ‘gold standard’ in epidemiology is, nevertheless, the randomized controlled trial, and one of these, in Uganda, found that bacterial vaginosis of any type was 40% lower, and severe bacterial vaginosis was 61% lower in the wives of men in the circumcised arm of the trial [Gray et al., 2009a].

    The foreskin of males could facilitate survival of BV organisms, such as gram-negative anerobic bacteria, and make an uncircumcised male amore efficient and more prolonged transmitter of infection [Fethers et al., 2008; Gray et al., 2009a]. The much higher prevalence of such anaerobic bacteria under the foreskin of men prior to circumcision was established in an analysis of the microbiome of men from a large randomized controlled trial, and the authors highlighted the fact that these have been associated with bacterial vaginosis [[Tobian et al., 2010].

    Bacterial vaginosis is associated with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, the precurser to cervical cancer [Nam et al., 2009].

    http://www.circinfo.net/bacterial_vaginosis_in_women.html

  • Grace

    Disease trasmitted from male to female . . uncircumcised males is MUCH HIGHER than those who are circumcised.

    Bacterial Vaginosis in Women
    Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is one of the most common infections in women. Symptoms of BV may include a watery, white or grey discharge instead of normal vaginal secretions, and a strong or unusual odor from the vagina, often described as a ‘fishy’ odor. The condition is characterized by a shift in the composition of vaginal microbial communities from the normal healthy bacteria – in particular lactic acid-producing lactobacilli – which become replaced by an overgrowth of various other bacteria, notably strict anaerobes, and an elevation in vaginal pH (i.e., an increase in alkalinity of the vaginal fluid).

    Bacterial vaginosis is sexually transmitted, as shown by an Australian meta-analysis [Fethers et al., 2008]. This systematic review and meta-analysis showed that the epidemiology of bacterial vaginosis appeared to be similar to that of established STIs [Fethers et al., 2008].

    A longitudinal study in Pittsburg of 773 women without BV at enrolment found that over one year, those whose partners were uncircumcised were twice as likely to have BV [Cherpes et al., 2008]. Two small US studies, thus having limited power, were unable to find an association, however [Zenilman et al.; Schwebke & Desmond, 2005]. The ‘gold standard’ in epidemiology is, nevertheless, the randomized controlled trial, and one of these, in Uganda, found that bacterial vaginosis of any type was 40% lower, and severe bacterial vaginosis was 61% lower in the wives of men in the circumcised arm of the trial [Gray et al., 2009a].

    The foreskin of males could facilitate survival of BV organisms, such as gram-negative anerobic bacteria, and make an uncircumcised male amore efficient and more prolonged transmitter of infection [Fethers et al., 2008; Gray et al., 2009a]. The much higher prevalence of such anaerobic bacteria under the foreskin of men prior to circumcision was established in an analysis of the microbiome of men from a large randomized controlled trial, and the authors highlighted the fact that these have been associated with bacterial vaginosis [[Tobian et al., 2010].

    Bacterial vaginosis is associated with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, the precurser to cervical cancer [Nam et al., 2009].

    http://www.circinfo.net/bacterial_vaginosis_in_women.html

  • DonS

    Stan @ 26: Come on. The purpose for female circumcision is specifically to reduce or eliminate sexual pleasure, and thus improve the likelihood of chastity. It is also much more invasive, with many more known medical complications, than male circumcision. Given the dramatic lifelong effects on the woman of having this procedure, and the fact that its practice is based on tradition, rather than Muslim scriptural teaching, it is difficult to analogize it to male circumcision, which is directly and specifically commanded in Jewish scripture. It seems to me to be reasonable for a government to say that the woman herself should make the decision to be circumcised, given its drastic consequences, rather than having it imposed on her. As Cincinnatus says @ 27, circumcision “cuts both ways”. However, it cuts much more drastically on the woman.

  • DonS

    Stan @ 26: Come on. The purpose for female circumcision is specifically to reduce or eliminate sexual pleasure, and thus improve the likelihood of chastity. It is also much more invasive, with many more known medical complications, than male circumcision. Given the dramatic lifelong effects on the woman of having this procedure, and the fact that its practice is based on tradition, rather than Muslim scriptural teaching, it is difficult to analogize it to male circumcision, which is directly and specifically commanded in Jewish scripture. It seems to me to be reasonable for a government to say that the woman herself should make the decision to be circumcised, given its drastic consequences, rather than having it imposed on her. As Cincinnatus says @ 27, circumcision “cuts both ways”. However, it cuts much more drastically on the woman.

  • Grace

    DonS – 29

    You are correct in your post above.

    The paper below sheds great light on female genital cutting/circumcision. I have read many papers of girls in great agony after such a procedure, knowing beforehand what lay ahead.

    The paper gives a glimpse into the horror and terrors.

    Harvard School of Public Health

    Women’s Health

    Gentle Diplomat

    For someone who recently won a half-million-dollar MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship, HSPH alum Nawal Nour, MPH ’99, isn’t at all intimidating. Intelligent, yes. Creative, focused, tenacious–yes, as the foundation requires. But not a person who inspires awe.

    That’s part of Nour’s plan. She aims to end female genital cutting, or “circumcision,” by taking a gentle, diplomatic tack. While others have denounced the practice as “genital mutilation,” Nour is neither angry nor righteous. Instead, she speaks in the measured tones of an understanding physician, advising a patient to act in her own best interests.

    “We don’t want to go in with a heavy-handed agenda,” she explains. “I do ultimately want to stop female circumcision. But fundamentally, I want to help women live healthy lives.”

    About 130 million women have undergone genital cutting, mostly in Africa, where it is practiced in 28 nations, and in Asia, particularly in the southern half of the Arabian peninsula, along the Persian Gulf, and in Muslim-dominated regions of India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Performed on girls ages 5 to 12, this coming-of-age ritual dates back thousands of years–some Egyptian mummies show evidence of circumcision–but its origins are unknown. As practiced in diverse cultures and religions, the custom varies greatly. In Ethiopia, the clitoris is excised. But in Somalia, northern Sudan, and Djibouti, nearly all of a girl’s external genital tissue is removed, including the clitoris, inner labia, and most of the outer labia. What’s left is sewn shut, leaving a tiny opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood.

    Particularly in rural areas, the procedure is carried out by women in the family using an unsterile knife or razor, and no anesthesia. Many girls endure complications ranging from hemorrhaging to infection to urinary problems. Often they grow up to face traumatic deliveries or, ironically, infertility. One study of 4,000 women in Khartoum found that 80 percent reported sexual difficulties.”

    Another excerpt __________

    “But soon after finishing her residency, word spread within Boston’s growing African immigrant community of an African woman doctor who understood them. Nour developed a following and, in 1999, she opened the African Women’s Health Practice at Brigham and Women’s. She developed a surgical procedure to reopen circumcised patients, alleviating many medical problems and easing childbirth. She began holding seminars around the country for African immigrants and their health providers on circumcision and other women’s health issues. She also wrote guidelines to help physicians treat women effectively and with sensitivity. As African immigrant populations swelled in the U.S., caregivers began waking up to an issue that affects an estimated 168,000 women.”

    READ the rest: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/review/review_fall_04/rvw_nour.html

    I highly recommend this paper.

  • Grace

    DonS – 29

    You are correct in your post above.

    The paper below sheds great light on female genital cutting/circumcision. I have read many papers of girls in great agony after such a procedure, knowing beforehand what lay ahead.

    The paper gives a glimpse into the horror and terrors.

    Harvard School of Public Health

    Women’s Health

    Gentle Diplomat

    For someone who recently won a half-million-dollar MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship, HSPH alum Nawal Nour, MPH ’99, isn’t at all intimidating. Intelligent, yes. Creative, focused, tenacious–yes, as the foundation requires. But not a person who inspires awe.

    That’s part of Nour’s plan. She aims to end female genital cutting, or “circumcision,” by taking a gentle, diplomatic tack. While others have denounced the practice as “genital mutilation,” Nour is neither angry nor righteous. Instead, she speaks in the measured tones of an understanding physician, advising a patient to act in her own best interests.

    “We don’t want to go in with a heavy-handed agenda,” she explains. “I do ultimately want to stop female circumcision. But fundamentally, I want to help women live healthy lives.”

    About 130 million women have undergone genital cutting, mostly in Africa, where it is practiced in 28 nations, and in Asia, particularly in the southern half of the Arabian peninsula, along the Persian Gulf, and in Muslim-dominated regions of India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Performed on girls ages 5 to 12, this coming-of-age ritual dates back thousands of years–some Egyptian mummies show evidence of circumcision–but its origins are unknown. As practiced in diverse cultures and religions, the custom varies greatly. In Ethiopia, the clitoris is excised. But in Somalia, northern Sudan, and Djibouti, nearly all of a girl’s external genital tissue is removed, including the clitoris, inner labia, and most of the outer labia. What’s left is sewn shut, leaving a tiny opening for the passage of urine and menstrual blood.

    Particularly in rural areas, the procedure is carried out by women in the family using an unsterile knife or razor, and no anesthesia. Many girls endure complications ranging from hemorrhaging to infection to urinary problems. Often they grow up to face traumatic deliveries or, ironically, infertility. One study of 4,000 women in Khartoum found that 80 percent reported sexual difficulties.”

    Another excerpt __________

    “But soon after finishing her residency, word spread within Boston’s growing African immigrant community of an African woman doctor who understood them. Nour developed a following and, in 1999, she opened the African Women’s Health Practice at Brigham and Women’s. She developed a surgical procedure to reopen circumcised patients, alleviating many medical problems and easing childbirth. She began holding seminars around the country for African immigrants and their health providers on circumcision and other women’s health issues. She also wrote guidelines to help physicians treat women effectively and with sensitivity. As African immigrant populations swelled in the U.S., caregivers began waking up to an issue that affects an estimated 168,000 women.”

    READ the rest: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/review/review_fall_04/rvw_nour.html

    I highly recommend this paper.

  • Joe

    Cincy – I would think that this case might be a good test to see if the Yoder hybrid standard has any teeth left. The Court has at different times embraced and ignored Yoder.

  • Joe

    Cincy – I would think that this case might be a good test to see if the Yoder hybrid standard has any teeth left. The Court has at different times embraced and ignored Yoder.

  • Stephen

    Well, after this helpful conversation, come August I know for sure now what we’re going to do. My son will definitely . . . (got cut off)

  • Stephen

    Well, after this helpful conversation, come August I know for sure now what we’re going to do. My son will definitely . . . (got cut off)

  • DonS

    Joe & Cincy: I’m thinking this shouldn’t lead to a revisit of the Yoder hybrid standard, since it’s too easy to decide this case based on intermediate scrutiny. Strict scrutiny shouldn’t be an issue, so re-visiting Yoder would be a real reach. If this were a legislative statute, with suitable legislative history and findings supporting its enactment, things might be different. But, it’s just an initiative by a crackpot, without a rational governmental purpose.

    Heck, these days, courts aren’t even afraid to overturn initiatives based merely on a rational basis review, as Judge Walker did in the Proposition 8 case, basically declaring that a law requiring that marriage be only between a man and a woman is irrational. If courts are willing to reach that far, the requirement under intermediate scrutiny of an important governmental purpose should be a slam dunk.

  • DonS

    Joe & Cincy: I’m thinking this shouldn’t lead to a revisit of the Yoder hybrid standard, since it’s too easy to decide this case based on intermediate scrutiny. Strict scrutiny shouldn’t be an issue, so re-visiting Yoder would be a real reach. If this were a legislative statute, with suitable legislative history and findings supporting its enactment, things might be different. But, it’s just an initiative by a crackpot, without a rational governmental purpose.

    Heck, these days, courts aren’t even afraid to overturn initiatives based merely on a rational basis review, as Judge Walker did in the Proposition 8 case, basically declaring that a law requiring that marriage be only between a man and a woman is irrational. If courts are willing to reach that far, the requirement under intermediate scrutiny of an important governmental purpose should be a slam dunk.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS, I’m puzzled by the arguments you’re making here. Frankly, they appear to be a bit of a mish-mash, and not exactly focused on the applicable law.

    What is the important government interest at stake here, first of all?

    Well, I could think of several reasons. Preventing unnecessary (elective) surgery on those too young to consent. Avoiding the complications that do arise. It’s not exactly hard to find suggested compelling reasons if you browse anti-circumcision Web sites.

    This law was not proposed by a deliberative legislative body, but is rather a proposition put on the ballot by an apparently anti-Semitic zealot.

    I’ll be honest, I’m a bit uncomfortable with how quickly you and others have gone straight for the ad hominem here. Yes, the comic strip over there makes me uncomfortable, as well, and it certainly lends itself to an anti-Semitic interpretation. But I’m not sure I could necessarily conclude that the man behind it is “an anti-Semitic zealot”, like you did. Frankly, pretty much anytime someone Jewish is criticized in cartoon format, someone yells “anti-Semitism!”

    But what matter does it make whether it was proposed “by a deliberative legislative body” or by proposition? I’m pretty sure both are legitimate, at least in California. Would you withhold comment if this law had been proposed by the legislature? I’m guessing no.

    Male circumcision has never been shown to do harm to those undergoing the procedure, or to bear any measurable deleterious side effects.

    You appear to be ignoring the studies that suggest otherwise. Which, yes, are hardly definitive, but then, the same could be said of the studies you do hold up in favor of circumcision suggesting “modest health benefits”. It’s certainly true that botched circumcisions occur, and even if they are not what’s supposed to happen, it again comes down to the question of whether it’s in the government’s interest to ban an elective procedure with such potentially life-long side effects. Again, for a baby that can’t offer consent.

    It is also known to be an important religious practice for prominent faith groups here in the U.S.

    Does their “prominence” matter? Are rights something afforded to large groups, not small ones? How prominent is 1 or 2%, anyhow? Is it that much different from Christian Scientists, whose religious medical practices for their children do not seem to come under such a defense, even from you?

    The purpose for female circumcision is specifically to reduce or eliminate sexual pleasure.

    But the anti-circumcision sites will tell you that male circumcision also results in a reduction in sexual pleasure for men. How does that factor in?

    [Female circumcision] is also much more invasive

    Is there a standard for invasiveness you’re using? Wikipedia cites four distinct procedures, as classified by the World Health Organization, that fall under female circumcision. Are all of them “much more invasive”?

    [Female circumcision's] practice is based on tradition, rather than Muslim scriptural teaching

    Is this something a court should consider? Should our courts be in the business of interpreting religious texts or tossing out religious practices not found in texts?

    It seems to me to be reasonable for a government to say that the woman herself should make the decision to be circumcised, given its drastic consequences, rather than having it imposed on her.

    Then it seems to me you have laid out a case for the government doing the same for males.

    I say all this not because I disagree with your conclusion (my son is circumcised), but because I find your reasoning to be specious.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS, I’m puzzled by the arguments you’re making here. Frankly, they appear to be a bit of a mish-mash, and not exactly focused on the applicable law.

    What is the important government interest at stake here, first of all?

    Well, I could think of several reasons. Preventing unnecessary (elective) surgery on those too young to consent. Avoiding the complications that do arise. It’s not exactly hard to find suggested compelling reasons if you browse anti-circumcision Web sites.

    This law was not proposed by a deliberative legislative body, but is rather a proposition put on the ballot by an apparently anti-Semitic zealot.

    I’ll be honest, I’m a bit uncomfortable with how quickly you and others have gone straight for the ad hominem here. Yes, the comic strip over there makes me uncomfortable, as well, and it certainly lends itself to an anti-Semitic interpretation. But I’m not sure I could necessarily conclude that the man behind it is “an anti-Semitic zealot”, like you did. Frankly, pretty much anytime someone Jewish is criticized in cartoon format, someone yells “anti-Semitism!”

    But what matter does it make whether it was proposed “by a deliberative legislative body” or by proposition? I’m pretty sure both are legitimate, at least in California. Would you withhold comment if this law had been proposed by the legislature? I’m guessing no.

    Male circumcision has never been shown to do harm to those undergoing the procedure, or to bear any measurable deleterious side effects.

    You appear to be ignoring the studies that suggest otherwise. Which, yes, are hardly definitive, but then, the same could be said of the studies you do hold up in favor of circumcision suggesting “modest health benefits”. It’s certainly true that botched circumcisions occur, and even if they are not what’s supposed to happen, it again comes down to the question of whether it’s in the government’s interest to ban an elective procedure with such potentially life-long side effects. Again, for a baby that can’t offer consent.

    It is also known to be an important religious practice for prominent faith groups here in the U.S.

    Does their “prominence” matter? Are rights something afforded to large groups, not small ones? How prominent is 1 or 2%, anyhow? Is it that much different from Christian Scientists, whose religious medical practices for their children do not seem to come under such a defense, even from you?

    The purpose for female circumcision is specifically to reduce or eliminate sexual pleasure.

    But the anti-circumcision sites will tell you that male circumcision also results in a reduction in sexual pleasure for men. How does that factor in?

    [Female circumcision] is also much more invasive

    Is there a standard for invasiveness you’re using? Wikipedia cites four distinct procedures, as classified by the World Health Organization, that fall under female circumcision. Are all of them “much more invasive”?

    [Female circumcision's] practice is based on tradition, rather than Muslim scriptural teaching

    Is this something a court should consider? Should our courts be in the business of interpreting religious texts or tossing out religious practices not found in texts?

    It seems to me to be reasonable for a government to say that the woman herself should make the decision to be circumcised, given its drastic consequences, rather than having it imposed on her.

    Then it seems to me you have laid out a case for the government doing the same for males.

    I say all this not because I disagree with your conclusion (my son is circumcised), but because I find your reasoning to be specious.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 34:

    Yep, you raise many of the arguments that will no doubt be raised by supporters of the proposition, should it pass and inevitably face court scrutiny. I just don’t believe they are nearly compelling enough to survive intermediate scrutiny review, which requires that the law violating religious freedom be of general application, further an important governmental interest, and do so in a way closely tailored to that interest. The courts have held that it is important that the freedom of exercise be curtailed to the minimum extent reasonable while still advancing important governmental interests. That is a pretty high hurdle to overcome.

    But what matter does it make whether it was proposed “by a deliberative legislative body” or by proposition? I’m pretty sure both are legitimate, at least in California. Would you withhold comment if this law had been proposed by the legislature? I’m guessing no.

    Because a constitutional right is clearly being infringed by this law, the resultant level of required scrutiny forces the courts to investigate the purposes for the legislation at issue, in order to determine whether they are sufficiently important to justify the imposition on constitutional rights. If a legislature crafted a bill, going through a hearing process, considering testimony from potentially impacted parties, developing a legislative history, this investigation is relatively straightforward. However, if the law is enacted through a referendum, that legislative history is not available. The court must discern the basis for the law, and the governmental purposes it addresses, through other means. That is the difference. Sure, even if a legislature passed the law, I would comment if I disagreed with it. But we would have a record to comment on, whereas with this proposition we have none.

    We saw this process at work in the Proposition 8 case. The amazing thing about that case is that, for the first time that I am aware of, a court overturned a duly enacted law on the basis of the lowest standard of review, the rational basis standard. Because the law was enacted through proposition, rather than legislatively, the judge required a trial to discern the motivations for putting the proposition on the ballot, allegedly so that he could decide whether those motivations were rational. If the law had, instead, been enacted through the ordinary legislative process, with a legislative history on record, that trial would not have occurred.

    Preventing elective surgery that is performed on about half of all newborn males, with virtually no complication or known negative effect, is NOT going to be found to be an important governmental purpose sufficient to uphold the law without a religious exemption. That’s my opinion. Yours may vary. We will know soon enough, should the proposition pass.

    Does their “prominence” matter? Are rights something afforded to large groups, not small ones? How prominent is 1 or 2%, anyhow? Is it that much different from Christian Scientists, whose religious medical practices for their children do not seem to come under such a defense, even from you?

    Prominence doesn’t matter legally, but it clearly matters politically. Courts are, ultimately, political institutions — judges are not immune to political pressure, as we saw in the Roe v. Wade decision and many, many others. As for the Christian Science and JW cases, they typically involve the withholding of medical treatment which results in a threat to the child’s life. Those very different circumstances blow the intermediate scrutiny standard out of the water — protecting life is clearly an important governmental purpose.

    Is this something a court should consider? Should our courts be in the business of interpreting religious texts or tossing out religious practices not found in texts?

    It seems to me to be reasonable for a government to say that the woman herself should make the decision to be circumcised, given its drastic consequences, rather than having it imposed on her.

    Then it seems to me you have laid out a case for the government doing the same for males.

    As to the scriptural text issue, when the court is deciding whether the right to religious free exercise has been violated, it necessarily weighs the tenets of the religion at issue. A direct scriptural teaching, such as circumcision, will be more persuasive, and thus more important to the practice of that religion, than a mere religious tradition, not supported in the religion’s religious text.

    And, I disagree with you that male and female circumcision are analogous procedures. I’m sorry, I just do.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 34:

    Yep, you raise many of the arguments that will no doubt be raised by supporters of the proposition, should it pass and inevitably face court scrutiny. I just don’t believe they are nearly compelling enough to survive intermediate scrutiny review, which requires that the law violating religious freedom be of general application, further an important governmental interest, and do so in a way closely tailored to that interest. The courts have held that it is important that the freedom of exercise be curtailed to the minimum extent reasonable while still advancing important governmental interests. That is a pretty high hurdle to overcome.

    But what matter does it make whether it was proposed “by a deliberative legislative body” or by proposition? I’m pretty sure both are legitimate, at least in California. Would you withhold comment if this law had been proposed by the legislature? I’m guessing no.

    Because a constitutional right is clearly being infringed by this law, the resultant level of required scrutiny forces the courts to investigate the purposes for the legislation at issue, in order to determine whether they are sufficiently important to justify the imposition on constitutional rights. If a legislature crafted a bill, going through a hearing process, considering testimony from potentially impacted parties, developing a legislative history, this investigation is relatively straightforward. However, if the law is enacted through a referendum, that legislative history is not available. The court must discern the basis for the law, and the governmental purposes it addresses, through other means. That is the difference. Sure, even if a legislature passed the law, I would comment if I disagreed with it. But we would have a record to comment on, whereas with this proposition we have none.

    We saw this process at work in the Proposition 8 case. The amazing thing about that case is that, for the first time that I am aware of, a court overturned a duly enacted law on the basis of the lowest standard of review, the rational basis standard. Because the law was enacted through proposition, rather than legislatively, the judge required a trial to discern the motivations for putting the proposition on the ballot, allegedly so that he could decide whether those motivations were rational. If the law had, instead, been enacted through the ordinary legislative process, with a legislative history on record, that trial would not have occurred.

    Preventing elective surgery that is performed on about half of all newborn males, with virtually no complication or known negative effect, is NOT going to be found to be an important governmental purpose sufficient to uphold the law without a religious exemption. That’s my opinion. Yours may vary. We will know soon enough, should the proposition pass.

    Does their “prominence” matter? Are rights something afforded to large groups, not small ones? How prominent is 1 or 2%, anyhow? Is it that much different from Christian Scientists, whose religious medical practices for their children do not seem to come under such a defense, even from you?

    Prominence doesn’t matter legally, but it clearly matters politically. Courts are, ultimately, political institutions — judges are not immune to political pressure, as we saw in the Roe v. Wade decision and many, many others. As for the Christian Science and JW cases, they typically involve the withholding of medical treatment which results in a threat to the child’s life. Those very different circumstances blow the intermediate scrutiny standard out of the water — protecting life is clearly an important governmental purpose.

    Is this something a court should consider? Should our courts be in the business of interpreting religious texts or tossing out religious practices not found in texts?

    It seems to me to be reasonable for a government to say that the woman herself should make the decision to be circumcised, given its drastic consequences, rather than having it imposed on her.

    Then it seems to me you have laid out a case for the government doing the same for males.

    As to the scriptural text issue, when the court is deciding whether the right to religious free exercise has been violated, it necessarily weighs the tenets of the religion at issue. A direct scriptural teaching, such as circumcision, will be more persuasive, and thus more important to the practice of that religion, than a mere religious tradition, not supported in the religion’s religious text.

    And, I disagree with you that male and female circumcision are analogous procedures. I’m sorry, I just do.

  • Jack K

    All arguments about physical reasons for whether to circumcize at birth aside, the question that remains is: Does a government entity have the authority to legislate that the procedure cannot be done?

  • Jack K

    All arguments about physical reasons for whether to circumcize at birth aside, the question that remains is: Does a government entity have the authority to legislate that the procedure cannot be done?

  • Joe

    A court is not required or tied to looking for an actual legislative record to determine what the “important” public purpose is – a court is free find that purposes or basis on its own. My point is the fact that it is a ballot initiative instead of a normal legislative bill is not (or at least should not) be relevant to the inquiry as to whether there is an important gov’t interest at work. Now that said, it may shape where the court looks but a ballot initiative does not start out behind the 8 ball for lack of a legislative record. In fact, it is often hard to overturn ballot initiatives because the lack of a record allows those defending the legislation can put forth whatever rationals they can come up with unhampered by the real reason for the law.

  • Joe

    A court is not required or tied to looking for an actual legislative record to determine what the “important” public purpose is – a court is free find that purposes or basis on its own. My point is the fact that it is a ballot initiative instead of a normal legislative bill is not (or at least should not) be relevant to the inquiry as to whether there is an important gov’t interest at work. Now that said, it may shape where the court looks but a ballot initiative does not start out behind the 8 ball for lack of a legislative record. In fact, it is often hard to overturn ballot initiatives because the lack of a record allows those defending the legislation can put forth whatever rationals they can come up with unhampered by the real reason for the law.

  • Joe

    If I were trying over turn this law, I would argue it failed under intermediate scrutiny but I would also ride Yoder for all its worth. This law is a major infringement on the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit – medically and religiously.

  • Joe

    If I were trying over turn this law, I would argue it failed under intermediate scrutiny but I would also ride Yoder for all its worth. This law is a major infringement on the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit – medically and religiously.

  • helen

    Joe,
    Your argument could justify the brutality inflicted on young women, which, ( if reports are accurate, creates health problems rather than alleviating them (assuming the alleviation reported is accurate).
    Is that intended?

  • helen

    Joe,
    Your argument could justify the brutality inflicted on young women, which, ( if reports are accurate, creates health problems rather than alleviating them (assuming the alleviation reported is accurate).
    Is that intended?

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    If this were done by the federal government I’d oppose it. The federal government is just an agreement among the states on interstate commerce, military provision and finances.

    However if the community of San Francisco has broad agreement against male and female circumcision than it ought to be entitled to enforce their rules for people who decide to live there.

    Jews and Muslims don’t have to live in San Francisco if the rules there conflict with their religion.

  • http://steadfastlutherans.org/ SAL

    If this were done by the federal government I’d oppose it. The federal government is just an agreement among the states on interstate commerce, military provision and finances.

    However if the community of San Francisco has broad agreement against male and female circumcision than it ought to be entitled to enforce their rules for people who decide to live there.

    Jews and Muslims don’t have to live in San Francisco if the rules there conflict with their religion.

  • Grace

    Sal,

    Did you take the time to read who was behind this bill, as posted by Dr. Veith? If not here it is:

    “Now it turns out that the author of the bill runs an anti-semitic website:

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2011/06/02/author-of-sfs-anti-circumcision-initiative-engages-in-disturbing-anti-semitic-advocacy/

    Sal, anyone living in San Francisco can have their sons circumcized in another city, including Palo Alto, Sausalito, Tiburon and many other areas.

  • Grace

    Sal,

    Did you take the time to read who was behind this bill, as posted by Dr. Veith? If not here it is:

    “Now it turns out that the author of the bill runs an anti-semitic website:

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2011/06/02/author-of-sfs-anti-circumcision-initiative-engages-in-disturbing-anti-semitic-advocacy/

    Sal, anyone living in San Francisco can have their sons circumcized in another city, including Palo Alto, Sausalito, Tiburon and many other areas.

  • Cincinnatus

    Sal, you seem to have forgotten the many, many decades of constitutional law dictating that the First Amendment’s “free exercise” and “establishment” clauses do, in fact, apply to the states. San Francisco does not have a right to infringe upon the religious beliefs of Jews and Christians within its boundaries. The question is not whether San Francisco can violate religious freedom but whether this bill actually does violate that freedom. With DonS, I’m inclined to agree that there is a “slam-dunk” case against this bill.

    And really, SAL, in the American context, your claim that Jews can just “live somewhere else” is absolutely loathsome.

  • Cincinnatus

    Sal, you seem to have forgotten the many, many decades of constitutional law dictating that the First Amendment’s “free exercise” and “establishment” clauses do, in fact, apply to the states. San Francisco does not have a right to infringe upon the religious beliefs of Jews and Christians within its boundaries. The question is not whether San Francisco can violate religious freedom but whether this bill actually does violate that freedom. With DonS, I’m inclined to agree that there is a “slam-dunk” case against this bill.

    And really, SAL, in the American context, your claim that Jews can just “live somewhere else” is absolutely loathsome.

  • Grace

    Sal — 40

    “Jews and Muslims don’t have to live in San Francisco if the rules there conflict with their religion.”

    So….. Jews can be driven out of San Francisco, because they keep Judaic laws?

    Below is a passage of Scripture stating what God told Abraham:

    And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. Genesis 17:11

    If this is dangerous, than why would God have told them that all the males should be circumsized? NOTE, girls were not included.

  • Grace

    Sal — 40

    “Jews and Muslims don’t have to live in San Francisco if the rules there conflict with their religion.”

    So….. Jews can be driven out of San Francisco, because they keep Judaic laws?

    Below is a passage of Scripture stating what God told Abraham:

    And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. Genesis 17:11

    If this is dangerous, than why would God have told them that all the males should be circumsized? NOTE, girls were not included.

  • DonS

    Joe @ 37, 38: I agree that, as an attorney, I would also ride Yoder. You never put all your eggs in one basket, as you know. Give the court as many alternative reasons to find for your client as you can. But, realistically, I cannot imagine a court having to rely on Yoder to overturn this law.

    A court is not required or tied to looking for an actual legislative record to determine what the “important” public purpose is – a court is free find that purposes or basis on its own.

    Technically, sure. Courts can pretty much do what they want, and so they have, oftentimes. But, they are supposed to decide a particular case or controversy by applying the law to the facts applicable to the case being decided, not just facts they made up. The court should be looking at the factual record which was before the trial court, and that should include findings regarding the governmental purpose for enacting the law. If a legislature enacted the law, it will look to the legislative history, or testimony concerning the governmental purpose adduced during trial. If a proposition, then the factual inquiry takes a little different tack, since there is no legislative record. As you know, in the Proposition 8 case, Judge Walker insisted on a trial and testimony concerning the motivations of the backers of the proposition to build his fact record, and somehow decided that their motivations were sufficiently irrational that, for the first time I can recall, he quite remarkably found the law to be unconstitutional under the minimal rational basis standard of scrutiny.

  • DonS

    Joe @ 37, 38: I agree that, as an attorney, I would also ride Yoder. You never put all your eggs in one basket, as you know. Give the court as many alternative reasons to find for your client as you can. But, realistically, I cannot imagine a court having to rely on Yoder to overturn this law.

    A court is not required or tied to looking for an actual legislative record to determine what the “important” public purpose is – a court is free find that purposes or basis on its own.

    Technically, sure. Courts can pretty much do what they want, and so they have, oftentimes. But, they are supposed to decide a particular case or controversy by applying the law to the facts applicable to the case being decided, not just facts they made up. The court should be looking at the factual record which was before the trial court, and that should include findings regarding the governmental purpose for enacting the law. If a legislature enacted the law, it will look to the legislative history, or testimony concerning the governmental purpose adduced during trial. If a proposition, then the factual inquiry takes a little different tack, since there is no legislative record. As you know, in the Proposition 8 case, Judge Walker insisted on a trial and testimony concerning the motivations of the backers of the proposition to build his fact record, and somehow decided that their motivations were sufficiently irrational that, for the first time I can recall, he quite remarkably found the law to be unconstitutional under the minimal rational basis standard of scrutiny.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I agree with the assumption that what God demanded of his Old Testament people must have reflected divine wisdom. He would not have led them to do something harmful for them. That said, I think we have to be careful in how we apply this idea.

    Circumcision is not part of the eternal law of God. He did not bind it on all people for all time. Had it been best for everyone, wouldn’t you imagine he would have commanded it of everyone? But he clearly did not. I can accept the argument that it was good for the Jews for the time they were under this commandment. I don’t, however, think it’s easy to conclude from that that it was best for everyone for all time. Had it been so, God could have kept the law in force.

    So we have to evaluate it for ourselves. Which we can do by data. If we weigh health risks, we should weigh them on both sides. What are the risks attendant on circumcision? Google “botched circumcision” and you will see that there is some risk on the other side of this question.

    I’m with tODD on religious liberty not being absolute. Would you allow parents to amputate a child’s finger for religious purposes? A leg? Should voters decide? If 50 percent of them would be willing to give up their big toe, should a baby not be allowed to retain his? Lots of interesting questions arise with this issue.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I agree with the assumption that what God demanded of his Old Testament people must have reflected divine wisdom. He would not have led them to do something harmful for them. That said, I think we have to be careful in how we apply this idea.

    Circumcision is not part of the eternal law of God. He did not bind it on all people for all time. Had it been best for everyone, wouldn’t you imagine he would have commanded it of everyone? But he clearly did not. I can accept the argument that it was good for the Jews for the time they were under this commandment. I don’t, however, think it’s easy to conclude from that that it was best for everyone for all time. Had it been so, God could have kept the law in force.

    So we have to evaluate it for ourselves. Which we can do by data. If we weigh health risks, we should weigh them on both sides. What are the risks attendant on circumcision? Google “botched circumcision” and you will see that there is some risk on the other side of this question.

    I’m with tODD on religious liberty not being absolute. Would you allow parents to amputate a child’s finger for religious purposes? A leg? Should voters decide? If 50 percent of them would be willing to give up their big toe, should a baby not be allowed to retain his? Lots of interesting questions arise with this issue.

  • Grace

    45 – Rick Ritchie

    “Would you allow parents to amputate a child’s finger for religious purposes? A leg? Should voters decide? If 50 percent of them would be willing to give up their big toe, should a baby not be allowed to retain his? Lots of interesting questions arise with this issue.”

    This is the most ignorant comparison I’ve read so far.

    Circumcision was commanded by God to His chosen people back in Genesis 17.

    And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. Genesis 17:11

    God did not ordain circumcision because it was dangerous.

    Since this originated in San Francisco, it’s not difficult to see how Anti semitic, and anti Scriptural lengths, these individuals will go, to inflict their nonsense on others.

    I wonder how many of you have lived in S.F. or have spent a great deal of time in that city. We have, it’s a lovely place in many ways, but sin and it’s consequences are evident ‘everywhere. A great many mock morals, twist the Bible, and laugh at anyone who disagrees with them.

  • Grace

    45 – Rick Ritchie

    “Would you allow parents to amputate a child’s finger for religious purposes? A leg? Should voters decide? If 50 percent of them would be willing to give up their big toe, should a baby not be allowed to retain his? Lots of interesting questions arise with this issue.”

    This is the most ignorant comparison I’ve read so far.

    Circumcision was commanded by God to His chosen people back in Genesis 17.

    And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. Genesis 17:11

    God did not ordain circumcision because it was dangerous.

    Since this originated in San Francisco, it’s not difficult to see how Anti semitic, and anti Scriptural lengths, these individuals will go, to inflict their nonsense on others.

    I wonder how many of you have lived in S.F. or have spent a great deal of time in that city. We have, it’s a lovely place in many ways, but sin and it’s consequences are evident ‘everywhere. A great many mock morals, twist the Bible, and laugh at anyone who disagrees with them.

  • Grace

    If San Francisco wishes to outlaw practices that not only cause death, but many diseases, incredible financial strain on health care and insurance companies, which many of the rest of us have to pay for. Why don’t they outlaw, the real damage done through irresponsible behavior, San Francisco would be a great place to start, followed by West Hollywood, and Laguna Beach to name only three areas:

    1. Smoking
    2. Sex for those who have HIV/AIDS
    3. Prosecute those who knowingly spread HIV/AIDS
    4. Those who are homosexual, sexually active – 10 times the cost of health insurance which those who are heterosexual pay.

    I believe it would be a wise IF, those who are homosexual have their own insurance companies, pay their own way. The diseases they ‘catch be it HIV or STD’s should come out of their pocket, there is no reason why others should bear the cost of their lifestyle.

    I believe it’s TIME for those who are heterosexual, who do not live these aberrant, deviant lifestyles to stand together against the burden of ‘their health care.

  • Grace

    If San Francisco wishes to outlaw practices that not only cause death, but many diseases, incredible financial strain on health care and insurance companies, which many of the rest of us have to pay for. Why don’t they outlaw, the real damage done through irresponsible behavior, San Francisco would be a great place to start, followed by West Hollywood, and Laguna Beach to name only three areas:

    1. Smoking
    2. Sex for those who have HIV/AIDS
    3. Prosecute those who knowingly spread HIV/AIDS
    4. Those who are homosexual, sexually active – 10 times the cost of health insurance which those who are heterosexual pay.

    I believe it would be a wise IF, those who are homosexual have their own insurance companies, pay their own way. The diseases they ‘catch be it HIV or STD’s should come out of their pocket, there is no reason why others should bear the cost of their lifestyle.

    I believe it’s TIME for those who are heterosexual, who do not live these aberrant, deviant lifestyles to stand together against the burden of ‘their health care.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Grace, you didn’t bother to read. I wasn’t comparing circumcision to the amputation of a leg. That would have been obvious if you had read. I had already stated that I didn’t think that what God commanded of his people in the Old Testament was harmful. You ignored the words “I agree with the assumption that what God demanded of his Old Testament people must have reflected divine wisdom. He would not have led them to do something harmful for them.”

    The point of bringing up amputation is that it makes it clear that there are cases where everyone would consider banning a religious practice.

    Do you think anybody is still under a commandment to be circumcised?

    Do you think that any government ban that is contrary to any Old Testament law is automatically wrong?

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    Grace, you didn’t bother to read. I wasn’t comparing circumcision to the amputation of a leg. That would have been obvious if you had read. I had already stated that I didn’t think that what God commanded of his people in the Old Testament was harmful. You ignored the words “I agree with the assumption that what God demanded of his Old Testament people must have reflected divine wisdom. He would not have led them to do something harmful for them.”

    The point of bringing up amputation is that it makes it clear that there are cases where everyone would consider banning a religious practice.

    Do you think anybody is still under a commandment to be circumcised?

    Do you think that any government ban that is contrary to any Old Testament law is automatically wrong?

  • Grace

    Rick – 48

    “The point of bringing up amputation is that it makes it clear that there are cases where everyone would consider banning a religious practice.”

    “Amputation” and all the other comparisons, did not make sense.

    “Do you think anybody is still under a commandment to be circumcised?”

    No I don’t believe anyone is under such a command now. However, that doesn’t make “circumcision” something to discard. The Jews were not allowed to eat pork, and other meats, ….. pork is not the healthiest meat, nor is shellfish, which are bottom feeders. A vast amount of Jewish people to this day, do not eat these meats or fish. It’s been proven that they are not the healthiest food to eat, even though it is lawful to eat such things.

    “Do you think that any government ban that is contrary to any Old Testament law is automatically wrong?

    It would depend on what that might be.

  • Grace

    Rick – 48

    “The point of bringing up amputation is that it makes it clear that there are cases where everyone would consider banning a religious practice.”

    “Amputation” and all the other comparisons, did not make sense.

    “Do you think anybody is still under a commandment to be circumcised?”

    No I don’t believe anyone is under such a command now. However, that doesn’t make “circumcision” something to discard. The Jews were not allowed to eat pork, and other meats, ….. pork is not the healthiest meat, nor is shellfish, which are bottom feeders. A vast amount of Jewish people to this day, do not eat these meats or fish. It’s been proven that they are not the healthiest food to eat, even though it is lawful to eat such things.

    “Do you think that any government ban that is contrary to any Old Testament law is automatically wrong?

    It would depend on what that might be.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    “‘Amputation’ and all the other comparisons, did not make sense.”

    What made you conclude it was a comparison?

    The paragraph had a topic sentence: “I’m with tODD on religious liberty not being absolute.” The next sentence was on that issue. Religious liberty is not absolute. Here are some cases of medical procedures where the state would clearly set a limit on what parents could decide, even if a religion would command it. They’re hypothetical examples. But they do prove the point. And if religious liberty is not absolute, why should we consider this automatically protected?

    The hygiene idea of why some foods were allowed and not others sounds plausible. But it’s a speculation. We are interpreting what is the the likely rationale reason based upon our current knowledge. But what happens if the evidence changes? If we start thinking our speculation was the clear teaching of Scripture, then we are bound to hold out against the new data. But if we recognize what was clearly taught versus what wasn’t, we can go with the data.

    We need to distinguish between laws which reflect the eternal character of God and those which were given for a time. Consider the dietary laws. Noah is given “every moving thing that lives” for food (Genesis 9:3). And this AFTER God had spoken of both clean and unclean animals (Genesis 7:2). So there must have been some reason for Noah to be able to eat unclean animals. (Scarcity?) The laws on this subject seem to be relative. God, knowing all, can decide what is best and not tell us the reasons. But when he lifts the commandment, I think it’s a guessing game to suggest that since something was once commanded, we can tell others that it is best for them. We can present the data. But our data isn’t automatically better than anyone else’s. And if it proves false, it’s no reflection on God. If, for the sake of argument, circumcision proved to be more dangerous than uncircumcision, it would say nothing to what God had commanded. The circumstances might have been very different when the command was given. The best health practices of one generation might differ from those of another.

    Abraham was also commanded to kill his son. Should that be permissible for people to do, too? People from all religions?

    I do have a problem with this circumcision issue being on the ballot. Since this could be an area of rights one way or the other (religious liberty of the parents, right of the child to remain intact), the people shouldn’t decide, any more than they should decide who gets free speech rights.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    “‘Amputation’ and all the other comparisons, did not make sense.”

    What made you conclude it was a comparison?

    The paragraph had a topic sentence: “I’m with tODD on religious liberty not being absolute.” The next sentence was on that issue. Religious liberty is not absolute. Here are some cases of medical procedures where the state would clearly set a limit on what parents could decide, even if a religion would command it. They’re hypothetical examples. But they do prove the point. And if religious liberty is not absolute, why should we consider this automatically protected?

    The hygiene idea of why some foods were allowed and not others sounds plausible. But it’s a speculation. We are interpreting what is the the likely rationale reason based upon our current knowledge. But what happens if the evidence changes? If we start thinking our speculation was the clear teaching of Scripture, then we are bound to hold out against the new data. But if we recognize what was clearly taught versus what wasn’t, we can go with the data.

    We need to distinguish between laws which reflect the eternal character of God and those which were given for a time. Consider the dietary laws. Noah is given “every moving thing that lives” for food (Genesis 9:3). And this AFTER God had spoken of both clean and unclean animals (Genesis 7:2). So there must have been some reason for Noah to be able to eat unclean animals. (Scarcity?) The laws on this subject seem to be relative. God, knowing all, can decide what is best and not tell us the reasons. But when he lifts the commandment, I think it’s a guessing game to suggest that since something was once commanded, we can tell others that it is best for them. We can present the data. But our data isn’t automatically better than anyone else’s. And if it proves false, it’s no reflection on God. If, for the sake of argument, circumcision proved to be more dangerous than uncircumcision, it would say nothing to what God had commanded. The circumstances might have been very different when the command was given. The best health practices of one generation might differ from those of another.

    Abraham was also commanded to kill his son. Should that be permissible for people to do, too? People from all religions?

    I do have a problem with this circumcision issue being on the ballot. Since this could be an area of rights one way or the other (religious liberty of the parents, right of the child to remain intact), the people shouldn’t decide, any more than they should decide who gets free speech rights.

  • DonS

    Rick, I don’t think anyone on here was arguing that religious liberty is absolute. I’m not sure where you got that idea. The question is how imperative does the government’s interest in a particular regulation have to be in order to justify infringing on someone’s religious liberty?

  • DonS

    Rick, I don’t think anyone on here was arguing that religious liberty is absolute. I’m not sure where you got that idea. The question is how imperative does the government’s interest in a particular regulation have to be in order to justify infringing on someone’s religious liberty?

  • Grace

    Rick

    Without our posting going on any longer, I consider much of what’s being posted Anti semitic. Circumision has been done for centuries, its based on Genesis 17.

    YOU WROTE: Abraham was also commanded to kill his son. Should that be permissible for people to do, too? People from all religions?

    Rick, you have stepped over the bounds of Scriptural text and doctrine. You are unlearned, and Scripturally illiterate. NO ONE would ask a question such as this, unless they were blind to Biblical truths. This is a blithering attempt to exonerate yourself because you understand not the truths of God’s Word

  • Grace

    Rick

    Without our posting going on any longer, I consider much of what’s being posted Anti semitic. Circumision has been done for centuries, its based on Genesis 17.

    YOU WROTE: Abraham was also commanded to kill his son. Should that be permissible for people to do, too? People from all religions?

    Rick, you have stepped over the bounds of Scriptural text and doctrine. You are unlearned, and Scripturally illiterate. NO ONE would ask a question such as this, unless they were blind to Biblical truths. This is a blithering attempt to exonerate yourself because you understand not the truths of God’s Word

  • Craig

    I wonder what congressman Weiner thinks of this bill???

  • Craig

    I wonder what congressman Weiner thinks of this bill???

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    The argument you are using Grace, as far as I can follow it, is this.

    1. God commanded Abraham to circumcise.
    2. It would be wicked for the state to ban an action commanded by God.
    3. Therefore the state ought not to ban circumcision.

    My question was an attempt at a reductio argument. See here for discussion of what that is:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

    So I was showing that there are absurdities from following that kind of reasoning. It is clear that there are exceptions to the minor premise. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. Yet most states would not allow such an action. So since there is at least one action that a state might ban despite its having been commanded by God, it follows that there might be others.

    There is nothing antisemitic about questioning the grounds of an argument.

    St. Paul forbade circumcision in Galatians 2-3. Was he being antisemitic when he did this?

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    The argument you are using Grace, as far as I can follow it, is this.

    1. God commanded Abraham to circumcise.
    2. It would be wicked for the state to ban an action commanded by God.
    3. Therefore the state ought not to ban circumcision.

    My question was an attempt at a reductio argument. See here for discussion of what that is:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

    So I was showing that there are absurdities from following that kind of reasoning. It is clear that there are exceptions to the minor premise. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. Yet most states would not allow such an action. So since there is at least one action that a state might ban despite its having been commanded by God, it follows that there might be others.

    There is nothing antisemitic about questioning the grounds of an argument.

    St. Paul forbade circumcision in Galatians 2-3. Was he being antisemitic when he did this?

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    DonS, when I agreed with tODD that religious liberty is not absolute, how did that imply that I got the idea that some thought it was? Now I do suspect that some are a bit uncritical in how they view this. But I’m more interested in addressing specific arguments than people.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    DonS, when I agreed with tODD that religious liberty is not absolute, how did that imply that I got the idea that some thought it was? Now I do suspect that some are a bit uncritical in how they view this. But I’m more interested in addressing specific arguments than people.

  • DonS

    Rick:

    I guess I just thought it was odd in your post 45 that you thought it was important to specifically agree with tODD on a completely uncontroversial point that was not in dispute. Especially since you are more interested in addressing specific arguments than people.

    In your question to Grace @ 54: “St. Paul forbade circumcision in Galatians 2-3. Was he being antisemitic when he did this?”. I would clarify that Paul did not forbid circumcision. Rather, he forbade the Judaizer’s efforts to adulterate the Gospel by compelling circumcision as a condition for salvation.

  • DonS

    Rick:

    I guess I just thought it was odd in your post 45 that you thought it was important to specifically agree with tODD on a completely uncontroversial point that was not in dispute. Especially since you are more interested in addressing specific arguments than people.

    In your question to Grace @ 54: “St. Paul forbade circumcision in Galatians 2-3. Was he being antisemitic when he did this?”. I would clarify that Paul did not forbid circumcision. Rather, he forbade the Judaizer’s efforts to adulterate the Gospel by compelling circumcision as a condition for salvation.

  • Grace

    Rick – 54

    “My question was an attempt at a reductio argument. See here for discussion of what that is:”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

    Rick, you sending me off to ‘understand the definitions, is absurd. Because you and I disagree, does not develop your point that I don’t comprehend the definition.

    Another thing Rick, trying your skill when reformulating my posts and beliefs doesn’t serve you well.

    As for the passage of Scripture: DonS gave you the correct answer, which you should have known, but you don’t.

    Again, I refer you back to my post @ 52

  • Grace

    Rick – 54

    “My question was an attempt at a reductio argument. See here for discussion of what that is:”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

    Rick, you sending me off to ‘understand the definitions, is absurd. Because you and I disagree, does not develop your point that I don’t comprehend the definition.

    Another thing Rick, trying your skill when reformulating my posts and beliefs doesn’t serve you well.

    As for the passage of Scripture: DonS gave you the correct answer, which you should have known, but you don’t.

    Again, I refer you back to my post @ 52

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    DonS,

    My full reference didn’t make it into the post. I meant Galatians 5:2-3, not Galatians 2-3 in general.

    The words are: “2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. ”

    This looks like forbidding. We understand the application to be relative, since he also make it clear that “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything.” But the Galatians were forbidden to do what they had intended to do. And that’s all I need for this point. Think about it. Some were insisting that in order to be in Abraham’s covenant, one must be circumcised. Paul argues that being circumcised in order to enter Abraham’s covenant will bring condemnation. People are not allowed to do what the Jews are telling them they must do. Yet Paul is not antisemitic when he argues this way. If St. Paul can forbid circumcisions whose goal is to enter the Abrahamic covenant, then it would be odd if the state, which St. Paul argues has authority, could not. At least in principle.

    It is another argument as to whether this is medically beneficial, or constitutionally sound, or politically expedient. I’m against voting on the issue for reasons stated above. But I do want to press how we decide what kinds of things the state has authority to forbid.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    DonS,

    My full reference didn’t make it into the post. I meant Galatians 5:2-3, not Galatians 2-3 in general.

    The words are: “2 Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. ”

    This looks like forbidding. We understand the application to be relative, since he also make it clear that “neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything.” But the Galatians were forbidden to do what they had intended to do. And that’s all I need for this point. Think about it. Some were insisting that in order to be in Abraham’s covenant, one must be circumcised. Paul argues that being circumcised in order to enter Abraham’s covenant will bring condemnation. People are not allowed to do what the Jews are telling them they must do. Yet Paul is not antisemitic when he argues this way. If St. Paul can forbid circumcisions whose goal is to enter the Abrahamic covenant, then it would be odd if the state, which St. Paul argues has authority, could not. At least in principle.

    It is another argument as to whether this is medically beneficial, or constitutionally sound, or politically expedient. I’m against voting on the issue for reasons stated above. But I do want to press how we decide what kinds of things the state has authority to forbid.

  • DonS

    Hmm, Rick. The context of your comment reveals an understanding that Paul is not actually forbidding the physical act of circumcision. Rather, he is telling the Galatians that they need to choose between the law and grace as the means for their salvation. My boys were not circumcised because I wanted to obey the law so they could be saved. They were circumcised because I believe there are demonstrated health benefits incident to the procedure. There are demonstrated earthly benefits to having the procedure. Thus, my action to circumcise my boys was not addressed by Paul in this scriptural passage. I think (or, at least hope) we agree on this.

    The civil law should not be applied by civil government based on a judgment as to the correctness of religious tenets. You seem to be saying that, because the law concerning circumcision, from Scripture, was superseded by Christ’s atoning sacrifice, government should be free to enact any laws it wants to, prohibiting obedience to the Old Testament laws, without consideration for the 1st Amendment. But that is a judgment our government has no right or authority to make. There are still Jews who follow the Scriptural laws concerning circumcision. There are still moiles who perform these religious rites. Just because YOU believe, as a Christian, that the Jews are wrong not to have accepted the Messiah, and the gospel of the New Testament, does not mean these Jews do not have a First Amendment right to free exercise of their religious beliefs. The right of free exercise applies to all religions, not just Christianity. And that is the way we should want it to be.

  • DonS

    Hmm, Rick. The context of your comment reveals an understanding that Paul is not actually forbidding the physical act of circumcision. Rather, he is telling the Galatians that they need to choose between the law and grace as the means for their salvation. My boys were not circumcised because I wanted to obey the law so they could be saved. They were circumcised because I believe there are demonstrated health benefits incident to the procedure. There are demonstrated earthly benefits to having the procedure. Thus, my action to circumcise my boys was not addressed by Paul in this scriptural passage. I think (or, at least hope) we agree on this.

    The civil law should not be applied by civil government based on a judgment as to the correctness of religious tenets. You seem to be saying that, because the law concerning circumcision, from Scripture, was superseded by Christ’s atoning sacrifice, government should be free to enact any laws it wants to, prohibiting obedience to the Old Testament laws, without consideration for the 1st Amendment. But that is a judgment our government has no right or authority to make. There are still Jews who follow the Scriptural laws concerning circumcision. There are still moiles who perform these religious rites. Just because YOU believe, as a Christian, that the Jews are wrong not to have accepted the Messiah, and the gospel of the New Testament, does not mean these Jews do not have a First Amendment right to free exercise of their religious beliefs. The right of free exercise applies to all religions, not just Christianity. And that is the way we should want it to be.


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