Circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to grievous bodily harm, a German court ruled Tuesday in a landmark decision that the Jewish community said trampled on parents' religious rights.
The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled that the "fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents", a judgement that is expected to set a legal precedent.
"The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised," the court added.
the backwoods parts of the world where circumcision is still prevalent: Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Israel, Canada, the United States, and Australia. Thankfully, we have Germany to lead the way, standing on the cutting edge of oppressing Jews for nearly a century now. (I'm sorry. It was just too easy.)
This, it would appear, is what societies get when law and ethics become reducible to questions of conflicting theoretical rights. Being neither a Muslim nor a Jew and living in a country which permits circumcision with broad latitude, I don't really have a dog in this fight, except for my ideological consternation when I see courts ruling in favor of self-determination for infants. Because a baby has a right to a foreskin, a right which supersedes a mandate from G-d or Allah. That works if you're a secular court in Germany because you can touch a foreskin and you can't touch God, but that logic won't fly with the billions of unenlightened people in the world who think that the commands of their respective deities hold real weight.
In the words of Stephen Prothero, "This is foolhardy, not unlike saying that you will not read anything to your daughter because you don’t want to enslave her to any one language."
It is the right, or more precisely the duty, of every parent to raise each child in the way the parent believes is best for its health and safety temporal and eternal. Democrats can raise little Democrats. Republicans can raise little Republicans. Sooner fans can raise little Sooner fans, and the children of Longhorn fans will continue to thumb their noses at them every fall at the state fair. More importantly, Christians can raise little Christians and would be rather perturbed to find a court somewhere ruling that baptism prior to eighteen "contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs."
And Jews and Muslims ought to be able to raise their children up in the way they should go. That includes performing the defining and foundational right, at least in Judaism, on their children. Unfortunately, the Germans don't seem to agree, and who better than the German courts to decide for Jews and Muslims what unacceptably compromises their religious beliefs.