It takes a lot of effort and expense to get a measure on the ballot. In the case of the anti-circumcision measure that has qualified for the November ballot in San Francisco, more than the needed 7,168 signatures were collected at a cost of more than $9,000.
The measure would amend the city’s police code to make it a misdemeanor to circumcise a minor. Violators could be fined $1,000 and subjected to a year in jail.
Proponents claim that there is a nationwide movement to outlaw circumcision. A similar effort was attempted last year through the Massachusetts legislature, but it failed. A recent effort in Santa Monica failed as well.
Opponents are livid, questioning the motivation behind such a measure. Some feel that it is the tip of an anti-Semitic iceberg and are taking action.
Congressman Brad Sherman (D-27, CA), who grew up in Orange County, announced on June 14 that he will be introducing the Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011, a bill to prevent San Francisco and other municipalities from banning the circumcision of males under the age of 18.
“Male circumcision has been practiced for thousands of years and is a deeply important ceremony for two major religions,” said Sherman “Circumcision is obligatory for Jewish-born males — it must be performed on the eighth day after birth and is only postponed in the case of threat to the life or health of the child. Muslim parents also circumcise their male children.”
He added, “To infringe the religious rights of so many Americans, San Francisco should have some compelling medical reason; however, the medical literature actually shows clear benefits of male circumcision.”
According to a United Nation AIDS agency study, male circumcision offers a 60 percent reduction in HIV risk and the benefits are life-long. The most common complications are local infections and bleeding, but the risks are about one in 1,000 and one in 3,000 respectively.
“I agree with the American Academy of Pediatrics that parents should clearly have the right to freely decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male children,” said Sherman. “In fact, American parents have chosen circumcision for over 75 percent of male children.”
“Congress has a legitimate interest in making sure that a practice that appears to reduce disease and health care costs remains available to parents,” he added. “Nothing in my bill prohibits statewide law ensuring that male circumcision occurs in a hygienic manner. The Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011ensures that Jewish and Muslim families will continue to be able to enjoy the free exercise of their religious beliefs.”
According to Rabbi Reuven Taff, spiritual leader of Mosaic Law Congregation in Sacramento, “There has always been a debate in our country about the slippery slope of first amendment rights. How is it that there is a law against yelling ‘fire’ in a public theatre, yet people are permitted to slander Jews with anti-Semitic hate-literature? Until such a law against the promulgation of hate is proposed in our country, here is what people of conscience can do to stop this initiative from being passed: Go to www.stopcircban.com and click on the tab on the page where it says ‘Take Action.’”
He added, “Let us not stand idly by while people campaign to ban a ritual procedure that has been an integral part of the Jewish tradition for thousands of years. This is not about whether such an initiative, should it be passed, would stand up in a court of law. This is about our taking action to make sure that this initiative is not only defeated, but is defeated soundly with loud and clear voices. This is about making a statement that we will not allow a ballot initiative and the methodology for promoting that bill which are blatantly anti-Semitic and discriminatory to become the law of California’s most cosmopolitan city in our state, or for that matter, in any city, town or state in our nation.”
We agree. We hope the measure in San Francisco is resoundingly defeated and that other such measures fail to rear their ugly heads elsewhere. Religious freedom cannot be sacrificed on the altar of someone’s idea of political correctness.