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-Circumcision: San Francisco vs. Jewish Religion?

by Dr. D ~ May 26th, 2011

The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, CA a...

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In San Francisco, California a measure is on the November ballot that would outlaw circumcision, even for religious reasons, on a boy under age 18.

If passed, the ballot measure would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise a male child in the city with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A similar measure may also be placed on the ballot for the city of Santa Monica.

Is this ballot measure anti-Semitic?


After all, circumcision of male infants by the 8th day is a religious requirement in Judaism. Plus it is also a tradition in Islam. So the real question as far as I am concerned is whether the measure would even be constitutional since it would infringe upon religious liberty and therefore violate the 1st Amendment.

According to Peter Eliasberg, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU), the measure might actually pass a 1st Amendment challenge:

“If there is some support [among medical doctors or psychologists] for the idea that circumcision hurts children, the government could do this.”

Here’s a sample of the reaction to this measure by one Times writer, Tim Rutten:

“…there’s something so breathtakingly wrong about the presence of such a proposition on any ballot…

Simply because more than 12,000 residents signed a petition, you have the people of an American city voting on whether or not to proscribe one of the central rituals of an entire religious community — in this case, Jews, who have been required to circumcise male infants within eight days of birth since the time of Abraham.  …

Will such a ban ever survive a legal challenge based on the 1st Amendment’s free exercise clause? No, …”

Response: I can’t imagine any American city passing an ordinance that would outlaw a major rite of Judaism. If it could happen anywhere in America it would happen in Frisco. We will have to wait and see until November how this all plays out. You can bet there will be legal challenges regardless.           *Top

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