“Germany outlaws Judaism”?

Not quite

Reporting on religion is infamously bad. In this case the story was that Germany recently outlawed circumcision. That is, you could have your child circumcised for health or medical reasons, but not because your religion demanded it. Thus, it was said, Germany had made it illegal for Jews to practice their religion, and there was much talk of yellow stars and rising anti-semitism in Europe.

It seems what happened is an ill-considered court ruling (we have those in America from time to time…) got blown out of proportion.

“In this specific case a doctor had circumcised a four year old Muslim boy. Two days later there was some bleeding from the circumcision wound and the parents delivered the boy to a hospital. This wasn’t malpractice, it’s just something that can happen.

“The doctor was prosecuted for bodily injury. In the first instance (the Amtsgericht) he was acquitted because the parent’s consent was deemed sufficient. The prosecution appealed. This part probably seams strange to American readers, but it’s entirely normal in the German legal system. On appeal (to the Cologne Landgericht) the doctor was acquitted again. But this time the reasoning was different. The court acquitted only because, this being a controversial legal question, the doctor couldn’t know he was committing a crime even with due diligence. Objectively though, the court says his action was criminal.

“This specific case won’t go to any higher court. The doctor can’t appeal his own acquittal and the prosecution gave up after loosing in two instances.

“Unlike common law systems, the German legal system doesn’t officially have binding precedents. So no new law has been created and any other court or theoretically even the same one could find different in different cases. But this specific court has made its opinion known and presumably would find child circumcision criminal in other appeals from its district.” — On that circumcision decision, seen here.

So a Muslim brought in his son for a medical procedure. The court said that’s fine, but didn’t give a universal ruling that the parent can have for the child any medical procedure the parent wants for religious reasons. There must be a medical reason. That may be problematic for Jews and Muslims, but there are potential problems if the court goes too far the other way. What if the parents had brought in their daughter instead of their son?

We need to figure out how we protect everyone’s religious liberty from the state, without letting savages mutilate their girls.


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