Discussion by: Michael Austin
I didn't like religion, so I gave it up. It no longer affects my life.
I hate being circumcised, and there's nothing I can do to reverse it. I'm stuck with a body that is less than whole through no choice of my own.
I don't think I'm wrong when I say that we wouldn't be so forgiving of this obvious human rights violation if religion didn't have a hand in it. Every time I talk about banning circumcision, I'm labeled an anti-semite because I don't believe that Jews should be allowed to cut parts off their children's bodies without their consent. If an adult decides to become part of a religion that requires him to alter his genitals, that should be his decision.
I think that this is an issue that we as Atheists are especially equipped to tackle. In the last decade alone, the conversation has completely changed on gay marriage, and I believe that Atheists are largely responsible for getting that off the ground in a way that religion couldn't possibly do. As Atheists, our political stances on these sensitive issues can be based entirely off of logic and that ultimately transcends religious identification when the conversation is heard in the media and in day to day conversation. How ridiculous does it sound now when a religious person claims that gays don't have the right to get married in our secular country because God doesn't like it? I think that forced circumcision objectively sounds equally ridiculous when religion is used to defend it.
I know that most of the circumcisions in America aren't done for religious reasons, but every time the issue gets attention those who are against it are seen as against freedom of religion. I don't believe that Jews or Muslims have anymore right to forcibly circumcise their children than they have the right to stone me if I work on the Sabbath. When their religious rights interfere with another person's rights, they are in the wrong.
In short, I think that America's circumcision problem is threefold:
1. Talking about banning the practice hurts people's religious sensibilities and the conversation is immediately shut down.
2. Many uninformed christians (at least in the Midwest, where I live) are under the mistaken impression that Christianity requires circumcision. They seem to be completely unaware that most men, and presumably most christians, are intact.
3. People just don't think about the issue. They circumcise their children just because they themselves are circumcised. It's a never-ending cycle of abuse.
I think that Atheism, as a logical movement promoting open discussion, is uniquely qualified to tackle all three of these hurdles stopping this barbaric practice from taking its rightful place in the history of our species.