Posts Tagged ‘culture’

Hello everyone 🙂

We’re getting close to our departure date, so stay tuned for more frequent posts during the month of July including…a packing list!

If you have a little time now that finals are over, this is an interesting article to check out.  Like the French headscarf ruling that had the world watching closely a few years ago, this German decision on male circumcision has many people very upset (and others very happy– as controversies go).  A fascinating look into religion in the public sphere in one of the countries we’ll be visiting…

German Ruling Against Circumcising Boys Draws Criticism

Published: June 26, 2012
BERLIN — A German court in Cologne ruled on Tuesday that circumcising young boys represents grievous bodily harm, a decision that could have significant repercussions for religious groups.Follow@nytimesworld for international breaking news and headlines.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany condemned the decision as “an unprecedented and dramatic intrusion on the self-determination of religious communities” and called on the German Parliament to pass legislation protecting circumcision as a religious practice.

The case centered on a 4-year-old boy whose Muslim parents had him circumcised by a doctor, which led to medical complications. Although both Muslims and Jews circumcise infant boys as a religious practice and many other people do so for health reasons, the court found that the child’s “fundamental right to bodily integrity” was more important than the parents’ rights.

According to the court, the religious freedom “would not be unduly impaired” because the child could later decide whether to have the circumcision.

Millions of Muslims call Germany home, as do more than 100,000 Jews, as part of a community that has enjoyed a significant resurgence here. Since World War II, many Germans have been careful to consider Jewish sensitivities as a result of the horrible crimes committed against Jews during the Holocaust in the name of the German Reich.

Jewish leaders reacted furiously to Tuesday’s decision. The central council’s president, Dieter Graumann, called it “outrageous and insensitive,” saying in a statement that circumcision had been practiced worldwide for thousands of years. “In every country in the world this religious right is respected,” Mr. Graumann said.

Germany has no law against male circumcision, as there is against female genital cutting. Experts said that the decision would not be enforceable in other jurisdictions. But the legal uncertainty and threat of possible prosecution could lead doctors to decline to perform the procedure.

The central council said the national Parliament, the Bundestag, should “create legal certainty and thereby protect religious freedom from attacks.”

The decision by the court “places an intolerable burden on the free exercise of religion by Jews and also by Muslims who practice male circumcision as part of their religious faith,” Abraham H. Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director in New York, said in a statement.

While the ruling did not appear to have specific anti-Semitic intent, Mr. Foxman said, “its effect is to say, ‘Jews are not welcome.’ ”

Holm Putzke, a criminal law expert at the University of Passau, told the German news agency DPA that the ruling was not binding for other courts, but could send a welcome signal.

“After the knee-jerk outrage has faded away, hopefully a discussion will begin about how much religiously motivated violence against children a society is ready to tolerate,” he said.


1881 – Mohandas Gandhi begins a campaign of civil disobedience against British rule in India

1938 – Germany occupies and then annexes Austria in the “Anschluss,” supposedly intended to re-establish order


1881 – Tsar Alexander II is assassinated in St. Petersburg, ending reform and causing the scapegoating of the Jews


1939 – At Germany’s insistence, Slovakia declares independence from Czechoslovakia, becoming a German satellite

1991 – The ‘Birmingham Six,’ jailed for killing 21 people in two IRA bombings, have their convictions quashed

And, from National Native News:

During this month in 2011, an honoring ceremony was held for the first South Dakota Secretary of Tribal Relations Leroy LaPlante. The Cheyenne River Sioux tribal member was named to the post to foster a better working relationship with the state and nine tribes within its borders. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard created the cabinet-level position after taking office last year.

We’ve got a blog!

Posted: February 26, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Thanks for checking out the brand new blog for “Religion, Secularism, & Civil Societies in the Netherlands, Germany, and the US.”  My name is Shady Grove and I’ll be the Program Assistant for the study abroad course, working with Faculty Instructor Vivian-Lee Nyitray to make sure you have the best experience possible this summer.  I’m still in the process of putting together this blog, and will be smoothing out the wrinkles over the next few days.  The goal is to have this site work alongside the Facebook page and Twitter feed [@EAP50thNyitray] to bring you the most up-to-date information about the course.  Stay tuned for:

*Articles in the news re: religion and secularism in NL, Germany, and the US

*Practical tips on preparing for your time abroad (packing, language skills, etc)

*Required and recommended books and films to read and watch before we go

*Updates to the itinerary for the course

*More in-depth information about the purpose of this course and what it will cover during the 4-week trip

Also, please feel free to use this blog (as well as the Facebook page) to contact us with your questions about this program. Once we are abroad, I’ll be updating this blog daily with photos and descriptions of our activities.  Make sure to tell your family and friends about it so they can follow our adventures from a distance!

Thanks again for checking out this blog, come back soon, and remember: