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Circumcision ban ‘would hand Hitler a posthumous victory’

Circumcision ban ‘would hand Hitler a posthumous victory’

A heated debate has erupted in the wake of Iceland’s plan to abolish male infant circumcision – a ban that, according to  UK Jewish academic Dr Irene Lancaster, above, should be rigorously opposed by all observant Jews, even if it means breaking the law.

Writing under the headline “Banning circumcision would give Hitler a posthumous victory” in Christianity Today, Lancaster said:

Circumcision of the baby boy at 8 days, known as brit milah in Hebrew, is the single most important marker of Judaism, surpassing everything else, including Shabbat.

She added:

By circumcising a son on the 8th day, Jewish people are re-enacting the creation of the world, the completion of the 7 days of creation. And the occasion is regarded as a great simcha, a time of food, joy, singing, dancing and celebration.

Circumcision marks the expression and dignity of self through acknowledging and internalising the Creator as one’s King. It is the primary step that must be cultivated in order to ascend to the next level.

The next level, attained through childhood, is complete trust and bonding to G-d – giving oneself over to G-d as a result of one’s awareness and awe. That trust, bonding, awareness and awe is not possible without the initial first stage of circumcision on the 8th day …

Although it is incumbent on Jews to obey the laws of the land, this is only when these laws are not opposed to G-d’s laws.

Lancaster went on to say that she expressed her concerns to Dr Rowan Williams, above, Master of Magdalene College Cambridge, and asked him to comment on the banning of circumcision. His response was:

It has to be recognised that circumcision is an integral aspect of Jewish identity, not a mere cultural extra. A ban on the practice in any country would amount to an expulsion of observant Jews.

Meanwhile it is reported by IBTimes that Iceland’s bill likens ritual male circumcision to female genital mutilation (FGM), which is already outlawed in most European countries.

If the law is passed by the Icelandic parliament, parents who have their sons circumcised could face up to six years in prison.

Muslims and Jewish leaders have condemned the bill, describing it as a “dangerous attack” on religious freedom.

Following the Icelandic proposal, British medical bodies are facing mounting pressure to support a ban on non-therapeutic, ritual circumcision.

Around four percent of boys born in the UK are circumcised by the age of 15, according to the most recent study in 2000.

The British Medical Association (BMA) is undertaking a periodic review of its guidelines which currently do not outline a clear policy for doctors dealing with religious circumcision requests. The procedure is considered lawful if both parents consent.

The Royal College of GPs told The Times that current guidelines put doctors in a “difficult situation” as there is “very little guidance for GPs and other medical professionals on how to manage requests for circumcision.”

The General Medical Council (GMC) states that doctors are “not obliged” to perform the procedure, but says that “cultural, religious or other beliefs” must be taken into account.

Anti-circumcision campaigners hope that an age of consent for the procedure will be introduced in the UK, in line with the NHS consent age, which is 16.

Richard Duncker, above, who founded the campaign group Men Do Complain, described ritual circumcision as “without doubt an infringement” a young boy’s rights. The group is staging a protest in Brighton in June, to coincide with the BMA’s annual meeting.

Duncker previously said:

I think an enormous amount of doctors are sympathetic to our cause but are shouted down with a religious freedom argument.

Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, said a political campaign to ban ritual circumcision sent a negative message.

While open anti-Semitism has become politically incorrect in our time, we witness covert initiatives to rid countries of its Jewish population. It is clear as day that once circumcision will be outlawed in Iceland, it will become impossible for young parents to stay in this country. We call on Iceland’s lawmakers to fully comprehend the implication of this law.

Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, told IBTimes UK:

We can only assume that this attempt to ban a core practice of Jewish communities comes from ignorance about the practice and its effect on Jewish children, rather than to send a message that Jews are no longer welcome in Iceland.

We call upon one of the world’s oldest legislatures to respect the values of openness and tolerance for an age-old practice and for which there is absolutely no evidence that it is at all harmful.

And in this report, Jonathan Romain, above, rabbi at the Maidenhead Reform Synagogue, has called for a national authority to be set up to regulate the practice of circumcision.

He said such a body could be accredited and serve faith groups other than Judaism.

Ultimately circumcision is a medical procedure and so whether done for religious or health reasons, it should be monitored and safeguarded like any other medical procedure.

He called for:

A national audit, so that we can have a true understanding of how many circumcisions take place and crucially, whether there are any issues, or problems, or complaints.

He claimed criticisms of circumcision were reaching “greater levels of intensity than ever before,” and a national regulatory body would help to quell concern.

Rabbi Romain said much of the criticism was focused on the process of Muslim circumcision, which he described as:

Often unregulated and undertaken by those with little training or medical knowledge.

He also said a climate of concern about child abuse in general and protecting children from adult harm was a reason to have a regulatory body.

The appalling revelations about what has been happening in schools, churches, football clubs heightens awareness of the rights of children and how they have been breached, and which some are also applying to religious procedures.

A national body would help

Weed out untrained circumcisers and give parents confidence in standards of safety.

The rabbi’s comments come after he caused controversy earlier this week by suggesting more Jews were opting to hold naming ceremonies for their baby sons instead of following the tradition.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Romain report)

84 responses to “Circumcision ban ‘would hand Hitler a posthumous victory’”

  1. And still the pseudoscience continues. Now I am being told to visit the website of “Doctors Opposing Circumcision” a fringe group hiding behind a pretentious name, many of whom are not doctors (its vice President is a retired air-line pilot, others are lawyers) and which peddles long ago debunked claims. That is like referring someone wanting information about evolution to answersingenesis.org Sigh. I have not the time to reply to all the nonsense here, but happily most of the common claims, including the lubrication myth are covered on circfacts.org, and backed up with references to the scientific literature. And, for the record, the studies disproving the lubrication claim were on men circ’d as adults who had before & after experience. After was better for both them and their female partners.

  2. Daz says:

    “No, the Romans just got the blame for caving in to incessant whining demands by the Jews, who wanted Pontius Pilate to do their dirty work for them. He didn’t want to whip or crucify Jesus, but the Jews demanded it.”

    That certainly is one interpretation. Unfortunately, it’s an interpretation which, 99.999% of the time signals that the interpreter is an anti-Semitic wanker of the first water.

    ” Jesus never claimed to be Almighty God.”

    You deny the Trinity, then? Methinks you should change your name. Antitrinitarians are seldom accepted as protestants.

  3. Daz says:

    “the studies disproving the lubrication claim were on men circ’d”

    Which goes to show that the site is not trustworthy. It is a matter of biological truth that the glands supplying the lubricant exist, and that they are on the inside of the foreskin. This is non-debatable and entirely demonstrable, and anyone denying it is quite plainly not interested in the truth.

  4. Protestant says:

    @Daz—1) You have obviously never read the New Testament. Neither have most Catholics, who are actively discouraged by their priests from reading it in their own languages. And neither have most Jews, who are forbidden to read it by their rabbis. I wonder why.

    2) The “Equal Triplet Trinity” lie was foisted upon Christians by the Jewish “Popes of Alexandria” at the Council of Nicaea, but I’m quite sure your fellow atheists on here do not want to hear all the details, so I will leave it at that.

  5. Daz says:

    I’m quite sure that I and my fellow atheists on here have, for the most part, read the NT, as well as books concerning the history surrounding it, its origins and so forth, with far more of an open mind than you have.

    I’m equally sure that many of us have read works about the history of Christianity, including the Council of Nicea. Why do you assume ignorance, rather than mere disagreement? All you had to say was “Yes, I deny the Trinity.” You’d not be alone. Isaac Newton, for one, also did.

    “I will leave it at that”

    I would if I were you. First rule of holes, and all that.

  6. Protestant says:

    @Daz—1) Now you descend to outright lies just to prove a point. Even most Christians have never read the whole New Testament from beginning to end, but prefer to just dip into it here and there, like some kind of recipe book.

    2) Do not presume to tell me what I believe, you Pompous Git.

  7. “It is a matter of biological truth that the glands supplying the lubricant exist, and that they are on the inside of the foreskin. This is non-debatable and entirely demonstrable, and anyone denying it is quite plainly not interested in the truth” says Daz.

    “A detailed study of the subpreputial collections and histological study of 128 specimens led us to conclude that there appears to be no evidence of any glandular tissue in the subpreputial region of the penis” say Parkash et al. 1973 (pubmed/4722614).

    “the mucosal surface of the prepuce is completely free of lanugo hair follicles, sweat and sebaceous glands” say Taylor et al. 1996 (pubmed/8800902).

    Now who should we believe? Daz, who makes a bold assertion without a jot of evidence in support, or two independent studies, replicating one another, and one by strong circumcision opponents?

    Who is “not trustworthy” and “not interested in the truth” now Daz?

  8. Daz says:

    Actually, I’m not lying. I know from their own statements at one time or another that most of the regular commenters here have, indeed, read the NT and are knowledgable regarding the history I mentioned. I do, however, agree that most practising Christians do not, judging from their words and actions, appear to have read the foundational work of their own religion, or at least don’t appear to have done so whilst paying any attention to detail.

    Either you deny the Trinity or you do not. Your comments would seem to be to the effect that you do. That’s not me telling you what you believe; it’s you telling me. If you do not do so, then (a) you need to learn to express yourself better and (b) we’re back at Jesus being a moon-god by your own definition.

  9. Protestant says:

    @Daz—You ARE lying, and becoming tiresome with it, so I will leave you to have the last word, since it’s so important to you.

  10. Daz says:

    “Now who should we believe? Daz, who makes a bold assertion without a jot of evidence in support”

    Actually I did have evidence. Your evidence, however, would seem to trump mine by reason of date. My statement being based on a 1970 article. I have no problem admitting this as any reasonable person would.

    Still an’ all, every source I read still, to this day, mentions that the lubricant is collected inside the foreskin.

    And at the risk of repeating myself, you are missing the point. Which is that there is a difference between an informed adult making a decision to have surgery for a non-life-threatening condition, and forcing the procedure upon an infant who is, by definition, uninformed.

  11. Daz says:

    “You ARE lying”

    Please point out where.

  12. Daz: What is your source? Mine is peer-reviewed science. The only articles I have seen peddling the lubricant claim are not. You are too quick to dismiss what I say. There is much pseudoscience on the anti-circ side. Do not assume all they say is true just because it fits your prejudice.

    As for infant circ vs adult, in an ideal world I’d agree. But we don’t live in such a world. We live in a world of disease, suffering and premature death. The science is clear. Circ can reduce those things, very considerably so in high HIV settings. Infant circ even more so. That is just what the evidence says. Now if the price of giving all males a choice over the fate of their foreskins is that millions get HIV, then I don’t think that is a price worth paying.

    I discuss this at length in the HIV section on circfacts.org. I will be posting two more items there soon. It is also accepted by the WHO, CDC and other bodies, that infant circ is the way to go long term in epidemic settings. If you doubt this check out malecircumcision.org

  13. Daz says:

    As I say, my source would appear to have been refuted by yours. Why are we still discussing it, when I admitted as much?

    “The science is clear.”

    Yes it is. The USA is unique, so far as I can tell, amongst developed countries, in its medical establishment’s claim to have found worthwhile, non-negligable health benefits to circumcision. This does not make Doctors Opposing Circumcision a fringe group, as you claim. It makes the USA medical establishment a fringe group.

  14. barriejohn says:

    Protestant: Even if the Jesus of the Bible really existed, we have no reliable records of what he said, just the accounts of the New Testament writers, so how can you be so dogmatic about his claims? Doctrines like those of the Virgin Birth, Divinity of Christ, Trinity, and so on, grew up over the centuries after the alleged events of his life, which is why the NT is so full of contradictions, even though it consists of books carefully chosen by the early Church Fathers to support their own views. Paul is said to have observed a “vow”, and had Timothy circumcised, which would seem to contradict what you say. Surely the “Apostle of the Gentiles” wouldn’t have supported such rituals if they were foreign to his new religion?

  15. Daz: Medical establishments in other developed countries have simply not conducted an up-to-date systematic review of the evidence.

    As for sources, I stick to the scientific literature. I suspect you don’t which is why I was wondering where you got your bogus lubrication claim from. That you can’t see through “Doctors Opposing Circumcision” (DOC) also sets alarm bells ringing. I challenged them publicly, back in 2013, in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and again privately, to reveal how many members they have, and how many are medical doctors. They stayed silent. That they continue to peddle discredited claims about HIV and circumcision on their website speaks volumes.

    Nor are the positions of the AAP and CDC as “fringe” as you imagine. It is already consensus that circ is vital in high-HIV settings. No medical body disputes that, and no such body makes the extravagant claims about foreskins (lubrication is just one of them) that the anti-circs make. The debate is about whether circ is worthwhile in low-HIV settings. The jury is out, but the evidence is growing. Be cautious on this issue, and don’t go arrogantly asserting that something is “biological truth”, “non-debatable” or “entirely demonstrable”, especially if your sources are not credible, and you are up against someone like me who has been debating anti-circs online for years, and has a library of > 1100 scientific papers on the topic.

    Check out http://circfacts.org/sloppy-logic/#slog2 before saying any more about DOC.

  16. Broga says:

    Daz: You are wasting your time. The Christian method is to read some nonsense in the bible and then spend their lives trying to justify it.

    barriejohn: your biblical knowledge is obvious. Stephen Moreton’s is propaganda.

  17. Barry Duke says:

    Before I close this discussion at midnight tonight I should point out that when I was born around 70 years ago in South Africa, doctors there had gleefully seized on the American trend to routinely circumcise male infants. They also routinely carried out tonsillectomies on young children.

    My parents stupidly went down the circumcision route, but resisted having a surgeon remove my tonsils. The result was that I suffered years of severe tonsil infections, and eventually had to have them removed at the age of 21. Ironically, I was advised by the surgeon who did the operation to resume my smoking habit as quickly as possible as this would help reduce the post operative pain.

    If my parents had made a different choice, I would have never have been genitally mutilated and would have been spared 11 years of debilitating throat infections.

    Nowadays tonsillectomies are carried out only when they are absolutely necessary, and the same rule should apply to circumcisions.

  18. Daz says:

    Well, now…

    “On the basis of three seriously flawed sub-Saharan African randomized clinical trials into female-to-male (FTM) sexual transmission of HIV, in 2007 WHO/UNAIDS recommended circumcision (MC) of millions of African men as an HIV preventive measure, despite the trials being compromised by irrational motivated reasoning, inadequate equipoise, selection bias, inadequate blinding, problematic randomization, trials stopped early with exaggerated treatment effects, and failure to investigate non-sexual transmission. Several questions remain unanswered. Why were the trials carried out in countries where more intact men were HIV+ than in those where more circumcised men were HIV+? Why were men sampled from specific ethnic subgroups? Why were so many men lost to follow-up? Why did men in the intervention group receive additional counselling on safe sex practices? The absolute reduction in HIV transmission associated with MC was only 1.3 % (without even adjusting for known sources of error bias). Relative reduction was reported as 60 %, but after correction for lead-time bias alone averaged 49 %. In a related Ugandan RCT into male-to-female (MTF) transmission, there was a 61 % relative increase (6 % absolute increase) in HIV infection among female partners of circumcised men, some of whom were not informed that their male partners were HIV+ (also some of the men were not informed by the researchers that they were HIV+). It appears that the number of circumcisions needed to infect a woman (Number Needed to Harm) was 16.7, with one woman becoming infected for every 17 circumcisions performed. As the trial was stopped early for “futility,” the increase in HIV infections was not statistically significant, although clinically significant. In the Kenyan trial, MC was associated with at least four new incident infections. Since MC diverts resources from known preventive measures and increases risk-taking behaviors, any long-term benefit in reducing HIV transmission remains dubious.”

    [source]

    Is that one of the “>1100” papers you have on this topic, or do they all “just happen” to support your prejudices?

    And given that I’ve already proved my willingness to believe what the evidence says it does, when I ceded a point, all be it a side-point, after being presented with what appears to be better evidence than that which I was basing my opinion on, could you please fold your smug,condescending and patronising lecture on “arrogant assertions” until it’s all sharp corners, and then insert it with great force up your no doubt sunshine-spewing arse hole.

  19. Daz: You people never learn do you? That paper is one of many anti-circ ones I have. I also have the point-by-point rebuttal here: https://www.malecircumcision.org/resource/criticisms-african-trials-fail-withstand-scrutiny-male-circumcision-does-prevent-hiv Note that the rebuttal was written by people who actually knew what they were talking about, unlike the one you cite, which was authored by a psychologist and a retired airline pilot who has taken up sugar farming. I list it, and others like it, and their rebuttals (all of which I have, and one of which I wrote) in the table here: http://circfacts.org/medical-benefits/hivaids/#hiv1

    All the claims your favored authors make have been debunked, if only you’d bother to look. I wrote the most detailed debunking of the absolute vs relative risk reduction claim here: http://circfacts.org/medical-benefits/hivaids/#hiv10 It is pure pseudoscience, and used also by anti-vaxxers.

    I told you to be cautious. You should have listened.

  20. Barry: 70 years ago? You don’t look a day over 50!

    The WHO, CDC, PEPFAR, UNAIDS and others are promoting circ in high HIV settings to prevent HIV. It is likely to avert millions of new infections. This includes infant circ, and the S. African Medical Assoc. began making it available in KwaZulu-Natal in 2011 alongside the adult circ program.

    Whatever your views on what was done to you, rest assured you are not missing much. All the best quality studies consistently show it makes scant difference one way or the other.

  21. Daz says:

    “I told you to be cautious. You should have listened.”

    You really are a pretentious little squirt aren’t you.

    Still, if you’re the expert, please answer a particularly important question asked by the authors:

    “Why did men in the intervention group receive additional counselling on safe sex practices?”

    Because that, for me,makes worthless any results obtained. There are now two differences between the control and intervention groups; and we have no way of telling which of those two variables makes the most difference.

  22. remigius says:

    Daz, I hope you don’t mind me sticking my oar in but I think you were too quick to concede Stephen Moreton’s point. He posted…

    ‘A detailed study of the subpreputial collections and histological study of 128 specimens led us to conclude that there appears to be no evidence of any glandular tissue in the subpreputial region of the penis” say Parkash et al. 1973 (pubmed/4722614).;

    However, he didn’t post the whole paragraph. It continues…

    Smegma is an epithelial debris collecting in this space. This collection, if not removed, leads to chronic inflammation of the glans and prepuce resulting in secondary phimosis, which in turn appears to be associated with penile carcinoma as suggested by a review of cases.

    It is found in the summary here.

    http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/parkash/

    It is clear that the paper refers to sufferers of phimosis, a condition whereby the foreskin cannot be retracted – often because it is fused to the glans. This would explain the absence of sebaceous membranes in this case.

    I have looked at other peer reviewed papers and found overwhelming evidence to support the fact that the foreskin does contain mucosa.

  23. Daz says:

    @Remigius

    Thanks mate. Why am I not surprised?

  24. Barry Duke says:

    Seventy-one years ago to be precise, Stephen (and thanks for the compliment). But let me take issue with your assertion that “all the best quality studies consistently show it makes scant difference one way or the other.” This suggests that you and the pro-circ organisations you support have not considered the psychological ramifications of the procedure. This from Psychology Today: “Over the last decade there has been a movement of men who were circumcised as infants and have articulated their anger and sadness over having their genitals modified without their consent. Goldman (1999) notes that shame and denial is one major factor that limits the number of men who publicly express this belief. Studies of men who were circumcised in infancy have found that some men experienced symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anger, and intimacy problems that were directly associated with feelings about their circumcision (Boyle, 2002; Goldman, 1999; Hammond, 1999).”

    I never suffered PSD, but did suffer depression and anger, on on several occasions humiliating rejection by intact males shocked to discover I had been cut.

    The PT article concludes: “The circumcision of children has myriad negative psychological consequences that the CDC has failed to consider. Removing healthy tissue in the absence of any medical need harms the patient and is a breach of medical providers’ ethical duty to the child. We believe that all people have a right to bodily autonomy and self-determination and deeply respect this fundamental tenet of international human rights law (UNESCO 2005). As children cannot advocate for themselves, they need adults to understand the complexities of their emotional experiences and provide them special protection. We oppose the CDC’s circumcision recommendation and encourage all parents to do the same in order to protect their children from physical and psychological harm.”

  25. remigius says:

    Daz, glad to be of help. Did you notice that the link I posted supporting prepuce mucosa was by Taylor et al 1996. The very same paper he used (@4.00pm – 3rd paragraph) to dismiss the very same thing.

    How odd!

  26. Daz says:

    Wow! No I didn’t. That’ll teach me to assume people are being honest when they quote from sources…

  27. Daz: Daz: Well for a start it is not true. And if you’d bother to read the actual studies (it helps, you know) you would see this, and also see that the sexual behaviour of both control and intervention groups was recorded in some detail. So we actually know how many partners they were having, and how often they used condoms. It’s there in the studies (Table 4 in each case) and was very similar for both intervention and control groups. Now because the circ’d group had a wound to monitor, they had to come back for extra visits, up to 6 weeks after, to check they were healing OK. During these return visits they were asked about their sexual behaviour during this time (resuming sex before wound healing is complete is not advisable). That is NOT safe sex counselling, but has been misinterpreted as such by critics. In the S. African trial they did not have extra visits to monitor wound healing. If the checks on wound healing they got a few weeks after the trials began had an effect, that effect should all be concentrated in the first six (or 3) month period. It wasn’t. The protective effect was sustained, if anything getting stronger with time. So whatever caused it, it was not a few check-ups near the start.

  28. Daz says:

    Oddly enough, I can’t afford £24 just to read a paper every time I get into a discussion on the internet. Sadly, this leaves me reliant on your honesty, since you have, or claim to have, read the paper in question.

    Equally sadly, it’s been demonstrated that you are not honest about what your sources actually say; you will, it appears, lie your head off if you think it will allow you to chop bits off babies with impunity. Since your lack of honesty would seem to leave us at an impasse, I cannot see any point in continuing this discussion.

  29. remigius: You misrepresent both me and the paper by Parkash. If you look back at the thread above, Daz made an assertion that there were glands on the inside of the foreskin that supply lubricant. That there is a mucosal surface was never in dispute. As for the paper by Parkash, some of the specimens were from cadavers, and there is no suggestion they had phimosis, yet still they had no glands of any sort. Also, phimosis just means a tight, non-retracting foreskin. It is not necessarily fused to the glans (adhesions). That is something else again. Most of their subjects did not have adhesions, even those with phimosis. The fact remains that both papers cited looked for glandular tissue, and found none. Daz was wrong, I was right. And your misrepresentation does not change that. There are no glands on the inner surface of the foreskin.

  30. Daz: Actually the papers are free. Just copy the PubMed numbers into Google.
    pubmed/16231970
    pubmed/17321310
    pubmed/17321311
    And I have not lied. But I have been misrepresented by remigius, and you have clearly fallen for that misrepresentation. I explain it in my reply. As with the papers on circ & HIV you need only read the sources to see the misrepresentation. But clearly you are too lazy to bother, preferring instead to throw insults around.

  31. Barry: I have seen the article. It is just an opinion piece, and the others are by well-known intactivists, and hardly impartial. The claims are misleading and not well supported by the references, but it is way too late to write a debunking now. It is my bedtime. There are also papers finding no adverse psychological effects. I am slowly populating the “Risks and complications” section of circfacts.org with rebuttals of some of the alleged psychological harms (claims about autism, alexithymia and breastfeeding are in there) but it is a massively time-consuming chore. Perhaps the reason some circ’d men are unhappy (most are not) is because they have bought into the anti-circ propaganda that dominates the internet. This is certainly the case with Jonathon Conte who, by his own admission, accepted his circ had had “no significant effect” until he came across anti-circ materials and got duped, leading to depression and suicide. If people are led to believe they are missing something wonderful they are bound to be pissed off.
    Got to sign off now.

  32. remigius says:

    Can’t. Be. Arsed.