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Andrew Gonsalves Headshot

Common Sense 1 - Religion 0

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There were a fair few column inches devoted to a ruling in a German court that circumcision for non-medical reasons is an assault, and interferes with a child's right to determine his own religion.

A number of commentators have said that the ruling amounts to some form of religious persecution against the Jewish and Muslim populations in the country, but in my opinion the courts are absolutely bloody right.

As someone who had a foreskin until last year I can tell you that it's actually quite a bit nicer having one; and being circumcised is not something I would've chosen to submit to were it not a medical necessity.

However religious groups seem to think that they can make this choice on behalf of their sons, before they're anywhere near old enough to understand what this choice means. Jewish boys are circumcised at eight days-old, and Muslim boys at any time before puberty.

Now all the predictable arguments have been rolled out, one Berlin Rabbi has called the ruling the "Most serious attack on Jewish life since the holocaust", and there have been rumblings of discontent from Muslim leaders too.

In my humble opinion the foreskin is there for a reason. If the evolutionists are right (as I believe they are), then the foreskin has been put there by nature, and if the creationists are correct (and, let's be honest, that's doubtful), then the big man up there gave us boys hoods for our chaps unnecessarily, which suggests he's somewhat flawed, doesn't it?

Now I know I'm being simplistic here, and there are all sorts of cultural and historic reasons why these religious groups commit what is essentially GBH on a group of boys who are in no position to say no. But none of these can detract from the fact that following Judaism or Islam, like Christianity, Sikhism or any other religion, is a choice, and one that everyone should be free to make for themselves.

I was raised in the Catholic faith, and I've since walked away from it. If I chose to embrace another faith I could do so knowing exactly what it might entail and what commitments, be they psychological or physical I would have to make.

No one should be able to make me commit to a lifelong membership of any religious creed before I'm able to weigh up all the options. After all, you wouldn't tell an eight day-old boy that he would always have to vote for one particular political party, would you? But in circumcising boys before they've had the chance to make an informed decision that's exactly what you're doing.

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