The United Church of Canada Strikes Again

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 4 January 2006 0 Comments
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Like you, I've long been skeptical of the supposed
"benefits" of circumcision and feel it is nothing more than
religion-endorsed genital mutilation performed on
unconsenting infants. Because of this, I continue to have
sharp pangs of remorse and regret over allowing my two sons
to be circumcised at birth.

This week, much to my surprise, a landmark study,
published in the journal Plos Medicine by the French national
agency for AIDS research, confirms that circumcision reduces
the risk of HIV infection dramatically, by as much as 60%.
If similar studies now underway in Kenya and Uganda
corroborate the results, circumcision could become a powerful
weapon-with condom use and other measures-in the fight
against AIDS. If valid, would such research change your
position on circumcision?


In a word, no!! Mutilating the baby instead of teaching
each child the arts of good hygiene is bad practice, bad
ethics, bad theology and a bad idea. I do not understand how
any religious system could ever endorse that. Female
circumcision - I prefer to call it "female genital
mutilation" is still practiced in parts of Christian Africa.
It too is said to have health benefits. I think not. Both
of these practices represent control tactics and guilt laden
castration rites born out of the superstition and ignorance
of the past. I regard circumcision in both sexes as a
barbaric act with no redeeming features. I find it almost
laughable that the same religious voices that oppose the use
of condoms would now support circumcision as a health

— John Shelby Spong

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