By Michael McGoughJuly 13, 2012, 2:16 p.m.
Two of my favorite writers, Andrew Sullivan and theWashington Post’s Charles Lane, have been blogging recently about a German court ruling that circumcision shouldn’t be performed on boys too young to give consent.
Basically, Sullivan (who was born in England, where circumcision isn’t as common as it is here) describes the medical-cum-cultic procedure as “infant male genital mutilation” and scoffs at the idea that a ban would violate the religious liberty of Jews and Muslims. (The court in Cologne ruled in a case involving the botched circumcision of a 4-year-old Muslim boy.)
A Jew or Muslim, Sullivan says, “can get his genitals mutilated later as a sign of his religious commitment — when he is old enough to be able to make such a choice of his own free will.”
For Lane, the decision was an affront to the rights of Jews to honor a millenniums-old divine command. “What this remarkable judge does not grasp — or does not care about — is
Rabbis Avichai Apel and Pinchas Goldschmidt called on the German government to overturn a court ruling banning religious circumcision.
the fact that a father cannot be a Jew in good standing unless he circumcises his son at eight days,” Lane wrote.
This week a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel engaged in some damage control, promising that religious circumcision “carried out in a responsible manner must be possible in this country without punishment.” So that ends the Sullivan-Lane debate — except that Lane made another point that transcends the circumcision issue:
“The Cologne court’s sloppy legal balancing act — kids’ physical integrity vs. parents’ religious interests — completely ignores the nature of religious tradition, MORE