If the reader will pardon first an explanation of bias, I will pass into truly alarming news. It seems that the disturbing assault against religious freedom undertaken in Europe has come home to America, again targeting Moslems, Jews, Sikhs and other minority religious groups. The facts of our multicultural heritage and the enormous contributions of Jews and Moslems to American society notwithstanding, legal gimmicks aimed at preventing the free exercise of religion, especially when undertaken in the guise of public safety or health, is obnoxious and pernicious.
In Europe, especially France, laws forbidding the covering of the head have passed under the explanation that these measures are necessary for security. To some extent, this has also been adopted here at home: in Elbert County Courthouse, not even tight fitting head coverings are allowed because they disrupt the identification process undertaken by security cameras and guards, and in many other public places, head coverings are not permissible.
Despite several noticeable commendable and remarkable acts of resistance against this growing intolerance of religious and cultural minorities, including resistance by military lawyers that permitted Sikhs to retain their religious right to long hair and head coverings, today is a shameful day to be an American.
It seems our indomitable American spirit cannot withstand being outdone by the French. In San Francisco, citizens have organized a petition to outlaw circumcision for males under the age of 18, an essential rite for both Jews and Moslems, and several other minority religions too.
Though there is significant medical evidence demonstrating the healthful benefits of circumcision, the petitioners use the argument that it is damaging to the health of a boy to be circumcised. They use the argument, falsely, that the parents do not know what is best for their child. They use many arguments citing the Christian bible, and expect all other San Franciscans to live like Christians.
This is against the interests of a polycultural society like America, against the interests of any society. A society is richer for cultural and religious diversity, it is a strength that should not be underestimated.
Joshua Sabatini, a San Francisco reporter for the Examiner, reports that, “needing at least 7,168 valid signatures by today’s 5 p.m. deadline, San Francisco resident Lloyd Schofield, who is the lead proponent of the measure, said Monday he has 12,250 valid signatures. ‘It’s in excess of what we need to qualify for the ballot,’ Schofield said. He plans to submit the signatures to the Department of Elections today. The department has 30-days to review and determine whether it officially qualifies for the Nov. 8 election. The measure would amend The City’s police code “to make it a misdemeanor to circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicles or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18.” (http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/04/san-francisco-circumcision-ban-makes-november-ballot#ixzz1KxH5Eewv).
San Francisco has prospered by welcoming people of diverse religions and cultures, and this would be a step in the wrong direction. It sets dangerous precedents of law over the interests of public health and free religion. It also goes to show that you can get 12,250 people to sign anything in front of them. If each one of those people had stood their ground and denied this the opportunity to appear on the ballot, I would sleep better tonight.