1. A colleague sent news of your quite wonderful parody of the Hamlet soliloquy.
Congrats. As I am working on a book which claims that circumcision was one of the most ingenious frauds ever invented, it
may have some use to me within the text. Would you be interested in my quoting you with credit of course? The book, as it
insults the genitalia of fully 70% of males in the US, is not likely to be a howling commercial success, (if you were
hoping for huge royalties), but I need to make the point--god knows somebody should. By the way--you'd enjoy the latest
Penn and Teller (Showtime). Their season opener is a wonderful send-up of circumcision." -John V. Geisheker, JD,
2. May the sons (of the parents
who are moved by your piece into not mutilating their off spring) thank you some day. Words can hardly describe how
shameful this practice is. I applaud you for your efforts." -Erik
3. . . . I just read your
soliloquy in the NYR and wanted to thank you for standing against the forces of blind ritual sacrifice always with us,
particularly when cloaked as Science." -Mickay Miller, San Francisco
4. . . . You don't know what you
are talking about. Thanks to emla cream they had no pain and slept through their circumcisions. They have therefore joined
the 95+% of male babies born in the state of Utah and are proud to follow the circumcised Christ and a worthy
American culture." -Elmsdis
: Any so called "religion", or culture,
which routinely engages in the barbaric and ritualistic practice of genitally mutilating its
young male (or female) children is thereby demonstrating to all concerned its abysmal ignorance,
savagery and benighted nature.
And the only reason
Jesus was genitally mutilated (circumcised) was due to his being a Jew, whose religion, along
with that of the Muslim and Christian ones, and various other religions and cultures,
have copied this dastardly practice from the ancient Egyptian culture, whose priests were the
first known persons to utilize it in their priestly initiation ceremonies. Thus ignorance
begets ignorance, up to this very day. (Thank you for your email.)
5. Wall decorations on temples
and tombs attest to the development of surgery in ancient Egypt. A decoration in a nobleman’s tomb at Sakkara, dating from
2500 B. C., is the world’s oldest known depiction of an operation. It portrays a young man being circumcised with a stone
knife, while an attendant restrains the patient’s arms. “Hold him fast! Don’t let him swoon!” directs the surgeon,
according to the hieroglyphics nearby. —Newspaper article
6. The Malaysian minister of
culture, arts and tourism suggested last year that mass circumcision ceremonies be promoted as tourist attractions. —Newspaper article
Picture of a young boy being prepared for a ritual circumcision.
7. The other criticism
is a chronological one. The date of the Exodus from Egypt is extremely disputed, but hardly any authority would put it
nearer to Akhenaten's reign than a century or two. So if Moses derived his ideas from him it could only have been
indirectly through those who still cherished them - a prospect which Freud, though unwillingly, took into account.
Freud called attention to the error - he stigmatized it as a
"particularly clumsy invention” - of supposing that the rite of circumcision was peculiar to the Jews. According to
Herodotus, the Syrians and Phoenicians had borrowed the custom from the Egyptians, among whom it had long been practiced,
and other authorities besides Freud have suggested that the Jews had done the same.(62) This he naturally associated with
the religious rites introduced by Moses. Since the biblical story is so misleading about the uniqueness of the Jewish
custom, its account of Moses himself being uncircumcised may also be a tendentious distortion; a passage in the Talmud
actually says that Moses was born circumcised.(63) —The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, Volume 3, The Last Phase,
1919-1939, by Ernest Jones, M.D., New York, Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, eighth printing, 1965, p. 372.
8. Nelson Mandela,
Nobel prize winner and former president of South Africa, has often publicly declared that the most horrendous and
traumatic event to occur in his long and distinguished life was his ritual circumcision at the age of sixteen.
9. TAJIKISTAN: LEADER PLANS
A SMALL WEDDING FOR EVERYONE. President Emomali Rakhmon, left [picture], called for legislation to limit the size and
expense of weddings, birthday parties and funerals, saying the ceremonies had become too expensive and unjustified for the
people of his impoverished country, a former Soviet republic. He told a group of lawmakers, clerics and intellectuals that
guests at weddings should be restricted to 150; at a funeral to 100; and at a circumcision ceremony to 60. Mr. Rakhmon
(formerly Rakhmonov) recently declared that the Slavic "ov" be dropped from the surnames for all newborns and outlawed
gold fillings. —New York Times, May 25, 2007.
10. As a boy, Kirsten was sickly;
medical horrors had a way of inflicting themselves upon him. He nearly died in infancy from a botched circumcision, and
years later, in "a fit of hysterical nervousness," he hacked off a "small knot of loosely attached flesh" from his groin
area with a pair of his mother's nail scissors. —The worlds of Lincoln Kirstein, by Martin Duberman. Illustrated 723
pp. Alfred Knopf. $37.50, as reported by Dwight Garner in the Sunday New York Times Book Review, April 29, 2007, p.9.
11. According to the Bible
(Genesis 17:10), all uncircumcised men are sinners.
12. STOP 'N SNIP : A
Disposable Bris Kit.
Safebris, a disposable kit for performing circumcisions, is the latest innovation from Israel. Each kit contains a knife,
shield, gauze, scissors, alcohol pads, suction tube and other equipment. According to the Jerusalem Post, the kit fills
an obvious need "in an age of AIDS and Hepatitis B". Rabbi Yosef Weisberg, national inspector of circumcisors for the
Israeli Health Ministry, said he is assessing the kit. The manufacturer has appled to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
for approval. —Source: A dated newspaper story.
13. Sigmund Freud was known to have
stated that in his opinion one of the determinants of anti-semitism was a general public revulsion over the Jewish practice
of ritual infantile circumcision.
14. [Freud seems to have first
mentioned the unconscious root of anti-semitism in the castration complex and circumcision in a footnote to his 'Little
Hans' case history (1909b), Standard Ed., 10, 36 n. He repeated the point in a footnote added in 1919 his study of
Leonardo(1910c), ibid., 11, 95-6 n. A reference to anti-semitism in Civilization and its Discontents has been
mentioned above (p. 91) in an Editor's footnote. The present discussion is, however, much more elaborate than any of these.
The subject was once again the topic of Freud's short contribution to a Paris periodical (1938a), which appears below (
p. 291).] -Source: "Moses and Monotheism (III)", by Sigmund Freud, Volume XXIII (1937-1939), The Standard Edition of
the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, London, The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1964, p. 92.
15. Moses did not only give the
Jews a new religion; it can be stated with equal certainty that he introduced the custom of circumcision to them. The fact
is of decisive importance for our problem and has scarcely ever been considered. It is true that the biblical account
contradicts this more than once. On the one hand it traces circumcision back to the patriarchal age as a mark of covenant
between God and Abraham; on the other hand it describes in a quite particularly obscure passage how God was angry with
Moses for having neglected a custom which had become holy,1 and sought to kill him, but that his wife, a Midianite, saved
her husband from God's wrath by quickly performing the operation.2 These, however, are distortions, which should not lead
us astray; later on we shall discover the reason for them. The fact remains that there is only one answer to the question
of where the Jews derived the custom of circumcision from - namely, from Egypt. Herodotus, the 'father' of history, tells
us that the custom of circumcision had long been indigenous in Egypt,1 and his statememnts are confirmed by the findings
in mummies and indeed by pictures on the walls of tombs. No other people of the Eastern Mediterranean, so far as we know,
practiced this custom; it may safely be presumed that the Semites, Babylonians and Summerians were uncircumcised. -Sigmund Freud, Ibid., p.26.
16. The motives which we have
discovered for the Exodus as a whole apply also to the introduction of circumcision. We are familiar with the attitude
adopted by people (both nations and individuals) to this primaeval usage, which is scarcely understood any longer. Those
who do not practice it look on it as very strange and are a little horrified by it, but those who have adopted
circumcision are proud of it. They feel exalted by it, ennobled, as it were. and look down with contempt on the others,
whom they regard as unclean. Even to this day a Turk will abuse a Christian as an 'uncircumcised dog'. It may be supposed
that Moses, who, being an Egyptian, was himself circumcised, shared this attitude. The Jews with whom he departed from
his country were to serve him as a superior substitute for the Egyptians he had left behind. On no account must the Jews
be inferior to them. He wished to make them into a 'holy nation', as is expressly stated in the Biblical text,1 and as a
mark of this consecration he introduced among them too the custom which made them at least the equal of the Egyptians.
And he could only welcome it if they were to be isolated by such a sign and kept apart from the foreign peoples among
whom their wanderings would lead them, just as the Egyptians themselves had kept apart from all foreigners.2 -
Sigmund Freud,Ibid., pp. 29-30.
17. The deeper motives for hatred
of the Jews are rooted in the remotest past ages; they operate from the unconscious of the peoples, and I am prepared to
find that at first they will not seem credible. I venture to assert that jealousy of the people which declared itself the
first-born, favourite child of God the Father, has not yet been surmounted among other peoples even to-day: it is as
though they had thought there was truth in the claim. Further, among the customs by which the Jews made themselves
separate, that of circumcision has made a disagreeable, uncanny impression, which is to be explained, no doubt, by its
recalling the dreaded castration and along with it a portion of the primaeval past which is gladly forgotten. -Sigmund
Freud, Ibid., p. 91.
18. But the father's will was not
only something which one might not touch, which one had to hold in high respect, but also something one trembled before,
because it demanded a painful instinctual renunciation. When we hear that Moses made his people holy [p.30] by introducing
the custom of circumcision we now understand the deep meaning of that assertion. Circumcison is the symbolic substitute
for the castration which the primal father once inflicted upon his sons in the plenitude of his absolute power, and
whoever accepted that symbol was showing by it that he was prepared to submit tot the father's will, even if it imposed
the most painful sacrifice on him. -Sigmund Freud, Ibid., p. 122.
19. It is our suspicion that during
the family's primaeval period castration used actually to be carried out by a jealous and cruel father upon growing boys,
and that circumcision, which so frequently plays a part in puberty rites among primitive peoples, is a clearly
recognizable relic of it. We are aware that here we are diverging widely from the general opinion; but we must hold fast
to the view that fear of castration is one of the commonest and strongest motives for repression and thus for the
formation of neuroses. The analysis of cases in which circumcision, though not, it is true, castration, has been carried
out on boys as a cure or punishment for masturbation (a far from rare occurrence in Anglo- American society) has given our
conviction a last degree of certainty. It is very tempting at this point to go more deeply into the castration complex,
but I will stick to our subject. -Sigmund Freud, "Lecture XXXII, Anxiety and Instinctual Life, The Standard Edition
of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XXII (1932-1936), Introductory Lectures on Psycho-
Analysis and Other Works, London, The Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1964, pp. 86-87.
20. Circumcision predates recorded
human history, with depictions found in stone-age cave drawings and Ancient Egyptian tombs. The origins of the practice
are lost in antiquity. Theories include that circumcision is a form of ritual sacrifice or offering, a health precaution,
a sign of submission to a deity, a rite of passage to adulthood, a mark of defeat or slavery, or an attempt to alter
esthetics or sexuality. Circumcision of males is a religious commandment in Judaism and Islam, and is customary in some
Oriental Orthodox and other Christian churches in Africa. It is also practiced by the majority of South Koreans,
Americans, and Filipinos. Infant circumcision is controversial in several English-speaking countries. The American
Medical Association defines “non-therapeutic” circumcision as the non-religious, non-ritualistic, not medically necessary,
elective circumcision of male newborns. It states that medical associations in the US, Australia, and Canada do not
recommend the routine non-therapeutic circumcision of newborns. Genital integrity supporters condemn all infant
circumcision as male genital mutilation comparable to female genital cutting, while proponents of circumcision consider
that infant circumcision is a worthwhile public health measure. —Source: Circumcision – Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, p. 1 of 35.
21. Circumcision is part of
initiation rites in some African, Pacific Islander, and Australian aboriginal traditions in remote areas, such as Arnhem
Land, where the practice was introduced by Makassan traders from Sulawesi in the Indonesian chipelago. Circumcision
ceremonies among certain Australian aboriginal societies are noted for their painful nature, including subincision for
some aboriginal peoples in the Western Desert. In the Pacific, ritual circumcision is nearly universal in the Melanesian
islands of Fiji and Vanuatu; participation in the traditional land diving on Pentecost Island is reserved for those who
have been circumcised. Circumcision is also commonly practised in the Polynesian islands of Samoa, Tonga, Niue, and
Tikopia. In Samoa, it is accompanied by a celebration. Among some West African animist groups, such as the Dogon and
Dowayo, it is taken to represent a removal of "feminine" aspects of the male, turning boys into fully masculine males.
Although in many West African traditional societies circumcision has become medicalised and is simply performed in
infancy without ado or any particular conscious cultural significance, among the Urhobo people of southern Nigeria it is
symbolic of a boy entering into manhood. The ritual expression, Omo te Oshare ("the boy is now man"), constitutes
a rite of passage from one age set to another. For Nilotic peoples, such as the Kalenjin and Maasai, circumcision is a
rite of passage observed collectively by a number of boys every few years, and boys circumcised at the same time are taken
to be members of a single age set. —Ibid., p. 5.
The origin of circumcision in Islam is a matter of religious and scholarly debate. It is mentioned in some parts of the
Hadith, but not in the Qur'an. Fiqh scholars have different opinions about circumcision in Shariah, depending on which
Hadith are accepted and how they are interpreted. According to some it is recommended (Sunnah); according to
others, it is obligatory. Some have quoted the Hadith to argue that the requirement of circumcision is based on
the covenant with Abraham. The timing of Muslim circumcision varies. Turkish, Balkan, rural Egyptians and Central and
South Asian Muslims typically circumcise boys between the ages of six and eleven and traditionally the event may be a joyous
occasion and celebrated with sweets and feasting. However, in the middle class it is more usually done in infancy and is
largely unremarked upon. In Turkey the celebratory feast is called "Sünnet Dü?ünü", or "Circumcision Feast/Celebration"
and is considered a very important celebration in man's life as a passage to a manhood. In Pakistan, Muslims may be
circumcised at all ages from the newborn period to adulthood, though the medical profession has encouraged medical
circumcisions in the first week after birth to reduce complications: "Circumcision is performed by barbers, medical
technicians, quacks and doctors including paediatric surgeon[s] [and as] yet there is no consensus for the best age and
method." In Iran, Dr. Paula Drew states that “circumcision, which formerly celebrated the onset of manhood, has for many
years now been more customarily performed at the age of 5 or 6 for children born at home, and at two days old for those
born in a medical setting.…By puberty, all Muslim Iranian boys must be circumcised if they are to participate fully in
religious activities.” Kamyar et al describe circumcision as an "obligatory custom" and note that it is not necessary for
the circumciser to be a Muslim. —Ibid, p.4.
Christianity does not prescribe circumcision. The first Church Council in Jerusalem decided that circumcision was not
a requirement (Acts 15). St. Paul had Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:1-3) but in his letters he warned gentile Christians
against adopting the practice (Galatians 6:12-16, Philippians 3:2-3). Individual Christians and Christian traditions may
have different customs. For example, circumcision is customary among members of three of the Oriental Orthodox Churches,
the Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Eritrean Orthodox churches in their home countries, as well as some other
African churches. On 1 January, the Catholic Church used to celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. This has been
superseded by the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. The Catholic Church condemned the observance of circumcision as a
mortal sin and ordered against its practice in the Council of Basel-Florence in 1442. Anglican and Lutheran churches have
also renamed the Feast of the Circumcision in their liturgical calendars as, for example, the Holy Name of Jesus. —Ibid, p. 4.
Circumcision is a fundamental rite of Judaism. An
essential component of Jewish practice, it is a positive commandment obligatory under Jewish law for Jewish males, and is
only postponed or abrogated in the case of threat to the life or health of the child. It is usually performed in a
ceremony called a Brit milah (or Bris milah, colloquially simply bris) (Hebrew for "Covenant of
circumcision"). A mohel performs the ceremony on the eighth day after birth unless health reasons force a delay.
According to the Torah (Genesis, chapter 17 verses 9-14), God commanded Abraham to circumcise himself, his offspring and
his slaves as a sign of an everlasting covenant. According to Jewish law, failure to follow the commandment carries the
penalty of karet, or being cut off from the community by God. Brit milah is considered to be so important that
should the eighth day fall on the Sabbath, actions that would normally be forbidden because of the sanctity of the day are
permitted in order to fulfill the requirement to circumcise. The expressly ritual element of circumcision in Judaism, as
distinguished from its non-ritual requirement in Islam, is shown by the requirement that a child who either is born
aposthetic (without a foreskin) or who has been circumcised without the ritual must nevertheless undergo a Brit milah in
which a drop of blood (hatafat-dam, ???? ??) is drawn from the penis at the point where the foreskin would have
been or was attached. Less commonly practised, and more controversial, is metzitzah b'peh, or oral suction, where
the mohel sucks blood from the circumcision wound. The traditional reason for this procedure is to promote healing,
though the practice has been implicated in the spreading of herpes to the infant. Today, if it is performed, the mohel
generally uses a sterilized glass tube. —Ibid, p. 3.
25. Procedures of
Circumcision removes the foreskin from the penis. For infant circumcision, clamps, such as the Gomco clamp,
Plastibell, and Mogen are often used. These clamps are meant to protect the glans while they cut the blood supply to the
foreskin and prevent any bleeding. With the Plastibell clamp, the foreskin and the clamp come away in three to seven
days. Before a Gomco clamp is used, a section of skin is crushed with a hemostat then slit with scissors. The foreskin
is drawn over the bell shaped portion of the clamp and inserted through a hole in the base of the clamp. The clamp is
then tightened, "crushing the foreskin between the bell and the base plate." The crushing limits the bleeding (provides
the hemostasis). With the flared bottom of the bell fit tightly against the hole of the base plate, the foreskin is cut
away with a scalpel from above the base plate, while the bell covers the glans to prevent it being reached by the scalpel.
With a Mogen clamp, the foreskin and the glans are separated with a blunt probe and/or curved hemostat (as with the first
part of the Gomco and Plastibell procedure). The foreskin is then grabbed dorsally with a straight hemostat, and lifted
up. The Mogen clamp is then slid between the glans and hemostat, following the angle of the corona to "avoid removing
excess skin ventrally and to obtain a superior cosmetic result," compared with Gomco or Plastibell circumcisions. The
clamp is locked shut, and a scalpel is used to cut the foreskin from the flat (upper) side of the clamp. The frenulum is
cut if frenular chordee is evident. —Ibid, p. 2, 3.
26. Circumcision: A Cultural Perversity?
I read with interest an item in the August 1991 issue on the use of penile dorsal nerve block for newborn circumcision
(Sexuality Update, "Nerve Block Prevents Circumcision Pain," page 12). While the benefits of local anesthesia to prevent
pain during circumcision are undeniable, unfortunately the availability of a safe form of anesthesia may reassure parents
and possibly encourage an increase in the number of infant circumcisions performed.
As an obstetrician, and intact male, I refuse to perfom this medically unnecessary sexual mutilation. It is a cultural
perversity that leaves the majority of newborn males in the United States missing a sexually significant part of their
anatomy. In cantrast, less than 1% of males are circumcised in Europe and Scandinavia, and physician colleagues there
consider the American practice a form of madness. -- Leo Sorger, MD, Malden, Massachusetts
Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, December 1991, p.13
27. Machetes And Elections
Until he was circumcised with a machete in front of a jeering mob and then dragged off to be beheaded, Robert Ochieng
had been a symbol of modern, post- tribal harmony in Kenya.
A member of the Luo ethnic group, 16-year-old Robert had played and studied
with members of another ethnic group, the Kikuyu. They were friends. And then Kenya erupted in rioting after a
rigged election, and suddenly Luos were chasing and killing Kikuyus, and a mob of Kikuyus was running down Robert.
He claimed that he was Kikuyu as well, but the suspicious mob stripped him
naked and noted that he was not circumcised, meaning that he could not be Kikuyu. That's when his attackers held
him down - smashing his arm when he tried to protect himself - and performed the grotesque surgery in the street to
loud cheers from a huge throng.
The crowd shouted war cries and was preparing to decapitate Robert with a
machete when the police arrived and rescued him. Doctors did some repair work and say he will recover physically,
but as he sat in a church shelter for the displaced here in Kisumu in western Kenya, he seethed with hostility that
may never heal.
Nicholas D. Kristof, The New York Times, February 21, 2008, p. A-3.
28. Anna Taddio, a pain specialist at the Hospital for Sick
Children in Toronto, noticed more than a decade ago that the male infants she treated seemed more sensitive to pain
than their female counterparts. This discrepancy, she reasoned, could be due to sex hormones, to anatomical
differences - or to a painful event experienced by many boys: circumcision. In a study of 87 baby boys, Taddio
found that those who had been circumcised soon after birth reacted more strongly and cried for longer than
uncircumcised boys when they received a vaccination shot four to six months later. Among the circumcised boys,
those who had received and analgesic cream at the time of the surgery cried less while getting the immunization
than those circumcised without pain relief.
Taddio concluded that a single painful event could produce effects lasting for
months, and perhaps much longer. "When we do something to a baby that is not an expected part of its normal
development, especially at a very early stage, we may actually change the way the nervous system is wired," she
says. Early encounters with pain may alter the threshold at which pain is felt later on, making a child
hypersensitive to pain - or, alternatively, dangerously indifferent to it. Lasting effects might also include
emotional and behavioral problems like anxiety and depression, even learning disabilities (though these findings
are far more tentative.)
The First Ache, by Annie Murphy Paul, The New York Times Magazine, Sunday, February 10, 2008, p. 48.
29. Thank you for putting on the web Foley MD's 1966 article deploring USA routine infant
circumcision. It is deeply gratifying to note that, despite his pessimism, many points he made elegantly so long ago have made powerful inroads
into American medical and popular culture. In particular, doctors and maternity wards no longer urge routine infant circumcision. Nearly all infant
circumcisions performed today in the USA are performed because one or both parents are afraid that if they do not circumcise their child, he will
be thought odd and experience rejection, especially by future sexual partners.
Foley shines a spotlight on Freud's dismay with Jewish ritual circumcision, and his belief that it strongly
contributed to antisemitism. Intactivism has not followed up on this, which I take as evidence that no one reads Freud any more! I do not agree
with the claim that gentile children soon learn that Jewish boys have had something cut off. Growing up in a wholly gentile USA culture, I did not
hear jokes about bris until I was in college. But I do agree that bris is hard to accept, even among Christians who accept Genesis as divine
In Foley's day, if a baby boy was uncircumcised, that meant that his parents were poor, hygienically
unsophisticated, or first generation Americans. It often meant a home birth with a midwife. Having a foreskin meant having parents who were
oblivious to American middle class propriety.
West of Denver, circ is now a minority choice. The many immigrants who have come to the USA since WWII
generally do not circumcise. Mothers who are ardent breastfeeders and natural childbirth advocates usually do not circumcise. Day care workers who
work with children of unusually sophisticated parents, such as university professors or high tech engineers, post that a goodly number of these
children are now intact.
When it comes to circ, anti web sites outnumber pro by a factor of 10 or more. The web has made it possible
for millions of Americans who have never seen a foreskin in the flesh to learn about it, including even its sexual advantages, in the privacy of
their home offices. Most gratifying of all are YouTube videos by young women: they are overwhelmingly foreskin friendly, with some women willing to
say publicly that a single intact lover in their past changed their whole view of what sex can offer. There are also videos of teenage girls
talking among themselves and making bawdy fun of the intact penis, but they come across as conformist louts.
More generally, I have found that most young women, whether mothers or not, fountains of good sense on this
tender masculine topic. Let me venture a theory. Women's intimate bodies differ a lot, starting with breast size and nipple appearance. Many women
have gone through considerable pain and discomfort in attempts to make their bodies conform to some norm. (The latest variant of this is the current
fashion for eliminating pubic hair.) A lot of women have rightly concluded that it is high time that we accept ourselves the way we are, and that we
need to show Mother Nature more respect. I think that a lot of women have concluded that the American hatred of the foreskin is a masculine
manifestation of the urge to make our anatomies conform to some arbitrary cultural norm.
I am intact because I was born in continental Europe to a European mother. I grew up in the USA, and was
deeply embarrassed by my nonconforming male equipment until my 30s. I read Wallerstein's book soon after it came out, when I was 31, and it changed
my life. I am not much of an intactivist, because I have no health care or sexology credentials, and because I do not want to risk my career as a
college teacher. My wife has no issues whatsoever with my being intact, and fully agrees with me that to circumcise an infant as a matter of
routine is barbaric and damaging.
I was the only intact male in my family of origin. In grammar school/summer camp/high school, I knew of
only 1/2/1 other intact boys. By 10 years of age, I had noticed that my penis looked like those of male nudes in fine art, and like those of my
European cousins, but I had no idea why. My father never spoke a word to me about circumcision. My mother mentioned circumcision to me only once
before my 30s, when I was 19, and when she did she assumed that I knew what it meant. I was much too embarrassed ever to question my parents or
doctor about why my penis looked different.
At age 9, I discovered that I could pull back my foreskin before urinating and thereby pass for
circumcised. There and then all ridicule ceased. In high school I discovered that my foreskin could stay back while I showered in a locker room.
But I was still so ashamed of my foreskin that I did not loose my virginity until my 30s.
Only then did I acquire the knowledge I needed to look a woman in the eye and tell her "My penis is unusual in a way you have never seen before,
but the extra bits are a plus."
At age 13, chance reading led me to discover that all men were born looking like me, and that nearly all
men around me had undergone minor genital surgery to remove that which made me feel odd. I did not read anything saying that circumcision is
unnecessary until I was 19. It was not until I read Wallerstein that I realized that American medicine is fundamentally mistaken about the
foreskin. The only country other than the USA where most boys are circumcised for alleged prophylactic reasons is South Korea, a cultural
colony of the USA.
There is some evidence that nonreligious circumcision follows a pattern similar to breastfeeding. Where
the level of education and medical sophistication is below a certain level, routine circ is unknown and breastfeeding is universal. As birth
moves into the maternity ward, and as middle class mothers become high school and college graduates, circ makes inroads, and bottle feeding
catches on. (There is anecdotal evidence from Latin America, Romania, Netherlands, and Japan bearing on this point.) But when the degree of
medical and sexual sophistication increases still further, parents turn away from routine circ and mothers rediscover breastfeeding.
American mothers will abandon routine infant circumcision when young American mothers, egged on by Glamour
and Cosmo and novels written by women for women (e.g., Jane Smiley), decide that the foreskin makes intercourse more pleasant for women. In no
way need this be true, it only need be thought true.
30. "In the Midwest, 'we whack [circumcise] 'em all,' says Dr. Renee Stein, whose clinic at St. John's
Mercy Medical Center in St. Louis offers payment plans for families on Medicaid."
---Newsweek magazine, 4/13/09, p. 11
31. Stein omits an extremely important point from his debate about whether to circumcise his son: Jews, for
almost all their history, have suffered persecution and died for the sole purpose of making sure that their descendants could uphold their traditions, including
circumcision. By even entertaining thoughts of leaving his son intact, he pays the ultimate disrespect to his Jewish identity, something that has been desperately
fought for and preserved for millenniums.
---Jonathan Nathan, New York City
[Time magazine, May 11, 2009]
32. The New York Times, July 4, 2009, p. A7
South Africa: 31 Die After Circumcisions
Thirty-one teenagers died from complications after botched circumcision
rites in the rural Eastern Cape region, officials said. Traditional
circumcision is a rite of passage practiced by the region's Xhosa clan,
where males from age 18 are banished to the bush for about a month and
taught social values. The bi-annual event culminates in a circumcision
ritual that is performed without anesthetic.
33. On July 3, 2009 at 8:05am -0700, Marilyn Milos <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thanks for your nice comments! Yes, I know I have saved untold numbers of baby boys from the pain, trauma, and lifelong loss of circumcision. No matter the number, it will never be enough because my own precious babies weren't spared. However, I now have four intact grandsons, so we've brought an end to circumcision in our family, and that brings me joy!
I recently received a Humanitarian Service Award and, the following day, I was interviewed by James Loewen, who has photographically documented much of our movement. I thought you might like to see the interview he did with me, which is at
Perhaps you know that I've organized ten International Symposia on Circumcision, Genital Integrity, and Human Rights. The 11th symposium will be at UC Berkeley, July 29-31, 2010. If you've got something to present, I hope you'll submit a 150-word or so abstract by January 1, 2010. Otherwise, I hope you'll attend!
And, on another note, you're close by and it would be nice to meet you, someone else who obviously cares about what they're doing to babies behind closed doors! How about lunch?
Thanks so much for your good email and for your decades of valiant and dedicated work against circumcision. It staggers the mind to think that people are still genitally mutilating their innocent children, of both sexes, in this country and elsewhere. Ye Gads!!!
Take the best of care, and I hope it makes you feel amply fulfilled to know that your work undoubtedly has saved thousands, if not tens of thousands, of children from genital mutilation. What greater reward can there be but that!!!
From a great admirer,
On July 2, 2009 at 3:10pm -0700, you wrote:
Dear Mr. Mahoney,
Thank you for sending the url for your site to Rick Halstead, who passed it on to me.
It was fun to once again read Dr. Foley's article. Ralph Ginzburg, who published it in FACT magazine, was my benefactor during the early years of my work. I recognized some of the people who responded on your site, too.
I'm certainly glad to know you're there...and so near...
Marilyn Fayre Milos, RN, Executive Director National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers www.nocirc.org
34. Article from Marin Independent Journal, 6/29/09, By Richard Halstead
Marilyn Milos, 69, of Forest Knolls was a nurse at Marin General Hospital in 1979 when she witnessed her first circumcision. The experience changed her life. After researching the procedure, she became convinced it was not only unecessary but harmful. She says she was later fired from her job for sharing her opinions with patients and has spent the last 30 years crusading against circumcision as founder of the nonprofit National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers.
Q: What do you remember about that first circumcision?
A: As we walked into the nursery, the baby was strapped down to a plastic board. I called it "the rack" when I worked there. The baby was pulling against the restraints. Then the doctor started to cut and that baby let out a scream I've never heard come out of the mouth of a human, ever, and it became louder and louder. My bottom chin began to quiver and then tears poured over my eyes, and the doctor looked at my face and said, "There is no medical reason for doing this."
Q: How did your supervisors at Marin General react when you started questioning circumcision?
A: They told me to keep my mouth shut because a couple of patients were upset that I'd told them what was going to happen to their babies. I said, "Well, the baby's a patient. No one is more upset than he is." It was my job as a nurse that when parents signed that consent form that they were truly informed.
Q: What is so important about the foreskin?
A: It covers and protects the urinary meatus so the urinary tract maintains its sterility, and it's the skin that accomodates the full erection. Circumcision is one of the reasons men complain of tight erections, painful erections and curvature of the penis.
Q: Does circumcision reduce male sexual pleasure?
A: Well, if you cut off 20,000 to 70,000 highly erogenous, specialized nerve endings, what would your guess be? All those nerve endings are the accelerator that allows a man to ride the wave to orgasm the way a woman does. Without them, the accelerator is replaced with an off/on switch; "Oops honey sorry, it's because I'm so sensitive." It's not because you're so sensitive. It's because somebody did this to you. Somebody removed your accelerator. Men should be so pissed off about this.
Q: What is the long-term effect of the glans' exposure?
A: Initially, premature ejaculation occurs because there is no control. Later the denuded glans become dry, hardened and calloused. By their mid-40s, men are saying, "The head of my penis is numb. There is no sensation there."
Male Circumcision and HIV
Link to Male Circumcision and HIV
AIDSMAP: Circumcision’s Effectiveness A Distant Third
Posted: 25 Jul 2009 05:51 PM PDT
Researchers from the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS have presented a study,
based on mathematical modeling, to determine the level of efficacy in a high prevalence country
from condom use, treatment, and male circumcision. They found, to their “astonishment,” that male
circumcision isn’t anywhere nearly as effective as its promotors wish it to be. The results were
presented at the International Aids Society 2009 conference in South Africa.
According to an Aidsmap summary, male circumcision rates were examined at 51% (current level),
75%, and 90% with an assumed protective effect of 53%. Condom use was examined at 14% (current level),
50%, 75%, 80% and 90%, assuming a 10% failure rate. Treatment coverage was examined at 21% (current level),
50%, 75%, 80%, and 90%, with a CD4 cell count of 200 cells/mm3 or lower as the primary criterion for initiating
ART (antiretroviral treatment). See the article for a detailed description of the methodology and other
Researchers determined that scaling up heterosexual condom use to 50% and treatment availability to
80% would avert nearly one million cases by 2019. The numbers were similar if condom use were scaled
up to 80% and ART was made available to 50% of those who need it. Raising both condom use and ART to
50% would avert about 700,000 new cases. However, increasing circumcision to 90% would only avert an
additional 48,000 cases during the same time period, which is less than a 7% reduction requiring a massive investment.
If the number of new HIV infections averted in South Africa over 10 years is only 48,000 with an
adult prevalence rate at nearly 20%, what impact could be expected in developed countries with a
prevalence rate of 0.6% or less and where female to male heterosexually acquired HIV is the least
common mode of transmission?
The answer is far fewer than 48,000. The truth is that circumcision would change the face of the
epidemic very little. Moreover, the massive costs of circumcision, both in money, adverse surgical
consequences, and new education and reinforcement of the condom message to prevent disinhibition,
etc., should be redirected to increasing condom use and treatment, which in turn would likely
reduce additional infections far more than the projected <7% reduction from circumcision.
Condom use and ART coverage, alone or in combination, were found to reduce new HIV infections by
from 64% to 95% by 2025 and to reduce mortality by 10% to 34%. Circumcision brought about a 3%
to 13% reduction in new HIV infections and a 2% to 4% reduction in mortality; according to Lima,
its impact “was overshadowed when combined with the other interventions.”
“We were surprised by how little effect it had,” she said.
The solution to the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been well known for a long time. The early prevention
efforts in Uganda and Brazil’s leading example of universal access to HIV medications and
widespread distribution of condoms has shown in the real world precisely what this mathematical
model has shown in the virtual world.
Circumcision has no such real world corollary. In fact, there are examples of where it has had no
discernable effect, such as in Lesotho, Malawi, and even parts of Kenya. In the United States,
high levels of male circumcision and high levels of HIV conflict sharply with Europe and Japan
where levels of both are very low.
Funds diverted to circumcision campaigns, especially those targeted at children who are not at risk,
reduce resources for interventions that do work. This is a truth we have repeated often.
Coupled with the recent news from a randomized controlled trial in Kenya showing that male
circumcision provides no protection in women and in fact likely increases their risk, male
circumcision looks not only unattractive, but dangerous.
Lima V et al. The combined impact of male circumcision, condom use and HAART coverage on the
HIV-1 epidemic in South Africa: a mathematical model. 5th IAS Conference on HIV Treatment,
Pathogenesis and Prevention, Cape Town, abstract WECA105, 2009.
IN the late 19th century, Victorian-era doctors described the
male foreskin as a “source of serious mischief.”
Convinced that masturbation led to insanity, and that it was
the sensitive, responsive foreskin that stimulated masturbation, surgeons started
promoting therapeutic circumcision to cure young men of the “sin” of excessive indulgence
and prevent its corollary, masturbatory insanity,” a catchall phrase for curious psychiatric
and physical disorders that perplexed physicians. […..]
As one of the few countries where circumcision is widely practiced
for non-religious reasons, the United States is an anomaly. Most European countries have
largely abandoned routine neonatal circumcision; the British stopped doing it when
they started the National Health Service in 1948. The service refused to cover the practice
because it was deemed not medically necessary, and some Europeans will frankly say they
find the idea barbaric and unnatural. Yet in the United States, circumcision is the norm,
and the vast majority of men - and in all likelihood the majority of doctors - are
circumcised, even though rates have dropped in recent years. […..]
But critics say a double standard prevails: though female
genital cutting is also rooted in cultural traditions, it is prohibited by law in
America and considered a human rights violation. These critics object to circumcising
boys for the same reasons many find female circumcision loathsome: they believe
parents have no right to permanently alter the genitalia of a baby who cannot consent,
boy or girl, and that far from being a useless flap of skin, the foreskin, which is
densely filled with nerve endings, serves a function, protecting and lubricating the
head of the penis and maintaining its sensitivity, much like an eyelid does. […..]
David L. Gollaher, author of “Circumcision: A History of the
World’s Most Controversial Surgery,” traces the surge in circumcision to an influential
19th-century New York surgeon, Lewis A. Sayre, who believed that many neurological
problems were caused by genital irritations.
Dr. Sayre circumcised patients with paralysis and operated on
mentally ill patients in psychiatric hospitals; then he published papers about his
successes, convincing physicians this was “a very powerful operation,” Dr. Gollaher said.
In the early 20th century, as childbirth moved from the home,
where it was supervised by midwives who didn’t practice circumcision, and into hospitals
run by doctors, more and more babies from middle- and upper-income families were being
circumcised. Being without a foreskin was said to boost hygiene, and became a badge of
the educated and upper classes.
Meanwhile, other diseases were added to those circumcision was
believed to cure, including epilepsy, syphilis, tuberculosis and cancer.
“It’s almost like circumcision was a cure in search of a disease,”
said Eli Ungar-Sargon, who made a film, “Cut,” that questions the practice. “When you
look through history, you see that whatever the scary disease of the generation was, that
was the one that circumcision would help prevent. So in the early 20th century it was
syphilis, a scary disease that there was no cure for then. Later, it was cancer.
The Latest Fight Over the Foreskin, by Roni Caryn Rabin, The New York Times, 9/30/09.
Circumcision Death Subterfuge
Eight-day-old Amitai Moshe died at his mother's breast, 2/2/07, about 35 minutes after circumcision in a London synagogue. He bled from his nose and mouth -- a sign of
cardiac failure in infants. Prof. Peter Fleming, Britain's leading expert on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), declared the baby died from SIDS. A New Zealand expert
said SIDS begins at 2-3 months, not before, is associated with airway obstruction, and that painful procedures decrease risk. She could not recall SIDS ever occurring after
circumcision or in mother's arms. She considered the expert's opinion rubbish and accepted the pathologist's opinion that the death may have been from heart failure or
something else provoked by circumcision but, without circumcision, the death would not have occurred.
[ NOCIRC ANNUAL NEWSLETTER, <www.nocirc.org>, 2010, Volume 24. ]
Brooklyn Baby Dies After Circumcision
Bradley Dorcius died two days after being circumcised at SUNY Downstate Hospital, following bleeding from his mouth and nose [see story above re cardiac failure].
ABC 7 Eyewitness News, 10/03/09.
[ NOCIRC ANNUAL NEWSLETER, <www.nocirc.org>, 2010, Volume 24. ]
$2.3M Awarded in Botched Circumcision Lawsuit
A Georgia court awarded $1.8 million to a 4-year-old boy for damages from a botched circumcision and $500,000 to his mother for medical treatments and
psychiatric counseling for the boy and his family. Attorney, David J. Llewellyn, said, "This case points out the dangers of circumcision that every parent must
[ NOCIRC ANNUAL NEWSLETTER, <www.nocirc.org>, 2010, Volume 24. ]
Every child has the right to protection from all forms of medically unnecessary genital alteration until they are of sufficient maturity to give fully informed
----Paul Mason, Tasmania Commissioner for Children
[ NOCIRC ANNUAL NEWSLETTER, <www.nocirc.org>, 2010, Volume 24. ]
JEWS EXPECT PROPOSED BAN WON'T STOP CIRCUMCISION
By Aaron Glantz
Over the last decade, Rabbi Moshe Trager has performed more than 3,000 circumcisions on Bay Area Jews, he estimates. Mr. Trager, 45, said he sometimes performs as many as five in one day - driving as far as Lake Tahoe to snip a foreskin, helping modern Jews fulfill a commandment they believe was first issued by God to Abraham thousands of years ago.
Mr. Trager said he is not worried about an initiative to ban circumcision of boys in San Francisco, which may land on the November 2011 ballot. "I don't think some naughty Jewish guy with a chip on his shoulder is going to bring ritual circumcision down," Mr. Trager said, listing dictators like Hitler and Stalin who tried to forbid the practice.
The initiative is being circulated by a retired hotel credit manager, Lloyd Schofield, and needs 7,100 signatures to qualify for the ballot, a relatively easy task in a city with more than 800,000 residents. Mr. Schofield says the initiative is needed to protect children from what he calls "forced genital cutting."
The initiative would amend San Francisco's police code to "make it a misdemeanor to circumcise, exise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicle or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18." Violations would result in a $1,000 fine. Those familiar with such ballot questions say the initiative stands virtually no chance of passing and is destined to become the latest measure to bring ridicule to San Francisco, like the failed 2008 proposition that would have barred the police from enforcing laws against prostitution.
But the circumcision measure has managed to enrage the Bay Area's Jewish establishment. The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Board of Rabbis of Northern California and the American Jewish Committee issued a joint statement calling brit milah, the covenant of circumcision, "of fundamental importance in the Jewish tradition."
Mr. Trager is a full-time mohel, a person who performs ritual circumcision. A Jewish resource directory lists eight other Bay Area pediatricians and urologists who perform ritual circumcision in the home. In interviews, mohels said they don't expect to be out of work anytime soon.
Dr. Mark Rubenstein, a retired pediatrician in Walnut Creek who has performed circumcisions on Jews and non-Jews for 49 years, said even Jewish parents who eat pork, work on the Sabbath and celebrate Christmas will circumcise their children.
"Do I keep a koshe home? No," Dr. Rubenstein said. "But are I, my sons and grandsons circumcised? You better believe it."
According to a 2007 report from the World Health Organization, circumcision remains nearly universal among American Jews, with 98 percent of Jewish men having been circumcised. About 80 percent of American males are circumcised, but recent studies have shown that rates are declining.
The numbers may be trending downward in Northern California, where a small but vocal number of parents and medical practitioners have been speaking out against the practice.
Their leader is Dr. Mark David Reiss, a retired San Francisco physician who promotes an alternative ceremony for newborn boys. He calls it brit shalom, or the covenant of peace, and says it is immoral to perform a surgery with minimal health benefits and the potential for complications.
[NY Times, 11/28/2010, p.37A]
$10.8M FOR BOTCHED CIRUMCISION
A Brooklyn federal judge awarded $10.8 million to a boy whose glans penis was amputated by a circumcision clamp. Judge Jack Weinstein ordered Mogen Circumcision Instruments to pay compensatory and punitive damages. The clamp caused other partial penile amputations, driving the company out of business. Attorney David J. Llewellyn represented the boy.
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, 2011, Volume 25. ]
NELSON MANDELA was circumcised as a 16-year-old boy alongside a
flowing river in the Eastern Cape. The ceremony was similar to those of
other Bantu peoples. An elder moved through the line making ring-like cuts,
and foreskins fell away. The boys could not so much as blink; it was a rite
of passage that took you beyond pain. They exclaimed "Ndiyindoda!" ("I am
the man!") A brambly leaf was wrapped around the wound to stop the bleeding.
The boys had to lie in a certain position, and at midnight they were woken.
One by one, they went out into the cold and buried their foreskins in stony
soil. For Mandela, the circumcision was something that linked him with his
Thembu ancestors; in losing a part of his manhood, he became a man.
[ "Revolution from Within," an article in The New York Times Book Review
by J.M. Ledgard, Sunday, February 13, 2011, p. 16. (Later in life Mandela
stated that his circumcision was the most agonizing experience he had ever
Cicumcision always causes disfigurement, Christopher Fletcher, MD., told
attendees of the 11th International Symposium on Circumcsion, Genital
Integrity, and Human Rights. "By any cosmetic or surgical outcomes criteria,
their penises are harmed -- twisted, bent or scarred, smaller and skinnier
than those of intact men." Most men, he said, are unaware of their
disfigurements and think their penises are completely normal.
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN 1070-3721. ]
ROYAL AUSTRALASIAN COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS
The RACP says the foreskin has functions, including protection and
sexual sensation. It does not recommend circumcision to prevent HIV,
recognizes doctors may conscientiously object to circumcision, and
says parents should be told they can wait until the child can decide
for himself, saying, "The potential harm includes contravention of
individual rights, loss of choice, loss of function, procedure and
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN 1070-3721. ]
DUTCH BOYS PROTECTED
The Royal Dutch Medical Association position paper on circumcision
calls for a "powerful policy of deterrence," claiming it is an
infringement of a child's right to bodily integrity and personal
autonomy, that its risks are underplayed, and that rejecting FGM
[ Female Genital Mutilation ] while allowing MGM [ Male Genital
Mutilation ] is ethically inconsistent.
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN 1070-3721. ]
CIRCUMCISION BAN IN SAN FRANCISCO?
A proposed measure, submitted for the 11/11 ballot by Lloyd Schofield,
would amend San Francisco's police code, making it a misdemeanor to
circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the foreskin, testicles, or penis
of a person under 18. The fine: up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail.
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN 1070-3721. ]
The Centers for Disease Control [U.S.] reports the 2009 circumcision
rate as 32.5%, which means "intact" is now the norm, as we join other
English-speaking countries, where circumcision began as a way to prevent
masturbation. That didn't work, nor have any of the other excuses to
promote the billion-dollar-a-year industry.
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN 1070-3721. ]
Approximately 117 neonatal circumcision-related deaths (9.01/100,000)
occur annually in the United States, about 1.3% of male neonatal deaths
from all causes. Bollinger D. "Lost Boys: An Estimate of
Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths / Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies."
Spring 2010 4(1):78-90.
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN 1070-3721, p. 5. ]
A Portland, Oregon, mother called 9/11 on 10/24  after realizing her
3-month-old son was in trouble following her attempt to circumcise him. The
baby was expected to live.
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN 1070-3721. ]
PROTECTING BOYS IN THE USA
Regional directors from a children's rights group -- MGMbill.org --
submitted proposed bills to 2,800 + state and federal legislators
urging them to extend the ban on FGM [ Female Genital Mutilation ] to
MGM [ Male Genital Mutilation ]. Matthew Hess, the group's president,
said circumcision is medically unnecessary and robs men of their right
to an intact body.
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN 1070-3721. ]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR [ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN
170-3721, pp. 2-3 / www.NoCirc.org ]
Helpless baby boys writhe in agony, scream, and then pass into unconscious,
dissociated states of shock due to the overwhelmingly traumatic pain. While
it may offend orthodox religious leaders today who continue to inflict this
intergenerational trauma, originating in warrior cultures thousand of years
ago, there is nothing divinely ordained about this mutilation. To the
contrary, circumcision egregiously violates core values -- empathy,
compassion, altruistic joy, loving kindness, truth, and nonviolence -- that
are at the heart of any genuine sprituality.
[ Mitch Hall, MA, Activist for Peace, Nonviolence, and Children's Rights --
I'm a medical student close to graduating, and I stumbled across this issue
at a young age. I was circumcised at birth and feel psychogically affected,
distressed, and upset that I was violated. Men are ignored in the sense that
we are expected to be "strong." Most men suffer in silence. When I am with
my girlfriend and reach for the lubricant because she experiencess pain as I
penetrate, when both my girlfriend and I become numb from overstimulation,
or when I have an orgasm that abruptly halts halfway through, leaving me
frustrated for hours, I am painfully reminded that my member was once
beautifully functional and beautifully sensitive.
[ Ibid, Name withheld upon request. ]
JOHN R. TAYLOR, MD, a forensic pathologist, teacher, and researcher, was
an Associate Professor of Pathology at the University of Manitoba. John
gained international recognition for his work to support a growing
opposition to infant circumcision. He was the first to identify what is now
known as "Taylor's Ridged Band," which encircles the inner opening of the
foreskin and houses 20,000-100,000 specialized, erogenous nerve endings that
brain what the penis is feeling. He presented his findings in 1991 at the
Second International Symposium on Circumcision and his research was
published in the "British Jourmal of Urology" in 1996. His final paper on
the subject, which I was honored to read at the last symposium, will be
published in our Berkeley symposium book, which we will dedicate to John,
who was born July 26, 1932, in England and died October 27, 2010, in
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
[signed] Marilyn Milos *
* Marilyn Faye Milos, RN, Founder and Editor of NOCIRC / www.NoCirc.org .
[ NOCIRC Annual Newsletter, Volume 25, 2011, ISSN 1070-3721, p. 2. ]
The New Testament
1. Stand fast and be not held again under the yoke of bondage.
2. Behold, I Paul tell you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3. And I testify again to every man circumcising himself that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4. You are made void of Christ, you who are justified in the law: you are fallen from grace.
5. For we in spirit, by faith, wait for the hope of justice.
6. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anythng nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by charity.
German Ruling Against Circumcising Boys Draws Criticism
By Nicholas Kulish
The New York Times, June 27, 2012, p. A-12
Berlin — A German court in Cologne ruled on Tuesday that circumcising young boys represents grievous bodily harm, a decision that could have significant repercussions for religious groups.
The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany condemned the decision as "an unprecedented and dramatic intrusion on the self-determination of religious communities" and called on the German Parliament to pass legislation protecting circumcision as a religious practice.
The case centered on a 4-year old boy whose Muslim parents had him circumcised by a doctor, which led to medical complications. Although both Muslims and Jews circumcise infant boys as a religious practice and many other people do so for health reasons, the court found that the child's "fundamental right to bodily integrity" was more important than the parents' rights.
According to the court, the religious freedom "would not be unduly impaired" because the child could later decide whether to have the circumcision.
Millions of Muslims call Germany home, as do more than 100,000 Jews, as part of a community that has enjoyed a significant resurgence here. Since World War II, many Germans have been careful to consider Jewish sensitivities as a result of the horrible crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust in the name of the German Reich.
Jewish leaders reacted furiously to Tuesday's decision. The central council's president, Dieter Graumann, called it "outrageous and insensitive," saying in a statement that circumcision had been practiced worldwide for thousands of years. "In every country in the world this religious right is respected," Mr. Graumann said.
Germany has no law against male circumcision, as there is against female genital cutting. Experts said that the decision would not be enforceable in other jurisdictions. But the legal uncertainty and threat of possible prosecution could lead doctors to decline to perform the procedure.
The central council said the national Parliament, the Bundestag, should "create legal certainty and thereby protect religious freedom from attacks."
The decision by the court "places an intolerable burden on the free exercise of religion by Jews and also by Muslims who practice male circumcision as part of their religious faith," Abraham H. Foxman, the Anti-defamation League's national director in New York, said in a statement.
While the ruling did not appear to have specific anti-Semitic intent, Mr. Foxman said, "its effect is to say 'Jews are not welcome.'"
Holm Putzke, a criminal law expert at the University of Passau, told the German news agency dpa that the ruling was not binding for other courts, but could send a welcome signal.
"After the knee-jerk outrage has faded away, hopefully a discussion will begin about how much religiously motivated violence against children a society is ready to tolerate," he said.
"In Judaism, the health of the baby is more important than anything," Rabbi Golberg said. The harm, he added, would come if the baby was not circumcised. "A man who is not circumcised cannot understand the context of the Bible," he said. "It is very, very important."
--- Rabbi Goldberg, of the Bavarian city of Hof, Germany, in response to a German pediatricians' association, as well as a children's aid group, which were helping lead a petition drive calling for a two-year moratorium on the practice of infantile male circumcision in Germany. (The New York Times, Sept. 20, 2012, p. A6.)