Religious circumcision is child abuse

Ban Religious Circumcision

The protection of children is a universal characteristic in a civilised society. We recognise the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of a child as one of the most serious crimes and make strenuous efforts to identify and severely punish perpetrators. And yet one crime is repeated day after day, year after year but goes unrecognised, that crime is genital mutilation for the purpose of religious identity. Just as the Jewish and other victims of the Nazi regime in Germany were tattooed with identification numbers so tens of thousands of infants are routinely mutilated in order to satisfy the “obligation” of religious faith.

The practice of FGM “cutting” out the sexual organs of young girls has finally been recognised as grotesque but the removal of the foreskin of infant boys is no less an abuse albeit without some of the more profound consequences. Male circumcision is sometimes necessary for medical reasons but for the vast majority it is done as part of religious ritual. There can be no moral justification for this practice; it is simply part of the grand scheme that serves to perpetuate a particular religious faith. It is a cruel irony that the primary instigators of male circumcision, Judaism and Islam are in almost continuous conflict with each other.

So called scholars of either faith will offer religious justification for the practice and also claim other benefits like improved hygiene which has proved to be utterly false. In a secular society the rights of all faiths and none should be equally respected but this should never allow the human rights of individuals, especially children, to be ignored in the pursuit of religious faith, there should be no exemptions from our laws on account of religious belief or cultural practice. There are of course large numbers of people who subscribe to these faiths and governments in the developed world are afraid of challenging religious belief and ritual which some will also share personally but until they do we cannot call ourselves a civilised society.

The Cambridge Secular Society Blog

Although the Cambridge Secular Society was founded to champion secular issues this blog has a wider remit than simply confronting religious privilege and bias. It will encourage all who challenge the status quo, will not accept received wisdom, are skeptical of authority and are very likely to be atheists. It is important that the secular mindset be brought to bear on all issues that affect human well-being: politics, economics, education, health, equality etc in order to frame the debate using rational, evidence based argument as opposed to ideologically driven or partisan opinion. You only have to listen to the US Republican Presidential candidates debate to see how necessary this is.

A dangerous world

The world in 2015 is a very dangerous place, not simply the turmoil in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan and the rise of Islamism and the alarming evidence of accelerating climate change but global political insecurity with Russia and Israel violating UN resolutions and trampling upon internationally agreed boundaries. The global economic system is still at the mercy of mammoth and largely unreformed financial institutions that caused the crash of 2007/8, the EU is struggling with a massive immigration crisis and even in the wealthy developed world, anxiety or at the very least deep dissatisfaction is eroding belief in a democratic system in which all stakeholders can benefit.

Reason not Religion

So what is to be done? Religious fundamentalism as been allowed to flourish in developed nations by the misguided policy of multiculturalism that regards the values and culture of every minority group as equally valid rather than measuring each by the value it brings to individuals and to society as a whole must be challenged. We must re-assert our democratic, secular values and expose all those who oppose or undermine them. Politics cannot continue as usual and it is too important to be left to politicians, they have proved incapable of pursuing long term goals and see every issue though the outdated prism of Left and Right. This is examined in The Future: for Better or Worse?

We are floundering in a fast changing world of immense complexity, the old certainties like a job for life or communities of like-minded people have vanished to be replaced with anxiety and insecurity. There is as yet no road-map, ethical, political or economic that will get us out of this mess. It will take imagination and courage but let’s at the very least give it a go.