Jewish groups, which keep a low profile on Iran and other really important issues, have mobilized to fight a proposed ban on circumcision in San Francisco.
In a secular state, we believe, they are wrong and the proponents of the ban are right. Jews argue that the ban violates freedom of religion. Nonsense. Adults are free to practice their religious beliefs to their own detriment, but not to the detriment of their children. Thus, the time-honored religious practice of sacrificing children would surely be outlawed. An eight-day-old child cannot be said to enjoy freedom of religion. In a secular state, he must be able to choose his own religion when grown up rather than having one imprinted on him by his parents.
Jews do not circumcise for health reasons. We circumcised even when the surgery was dangerous. A commandment observed for any reason other than fear of God is not counted as observed. So by circumcision we do not seek to confer health benefits on our children. In the world of modern hygiene there is no conceivable health advantage to circumcision, and it quite possibly leads to sexual disadvantages.
Overall, circumcision means harm to the child because of his parents’ religious beliefs. Often the parents are atheists, and harm their child simply as a matter of tradition.
We must observe commandments whether they are good or bad for us or for others. And so we must circumcise our children even though it is probably bad for them. But we cannot expect a secular state to uphold that right.