Ethics Quiz: As The Founders Roll Over In Their Graves…[Corrected]

The headline: “Hamtramck City Council votes to allow animal sacrifice for religious purposes in the city.”

The act of animal sacrifice is often practiced among Muslims during the celebration of  Eid al-Fitr, and Muslims make up a majority on the council, it seems. There’s not much more that needs to be said, is there?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to begin this cold and gloomy Thursday (at least where I am) is…

Are animal sacrifices for any reason ethical in the United States of America?

I’ll tell you my answer: Emphatically no, and I want to see this law repealed. struck down. [Notice of correction: I was really sloppy in the original version here, saying that the law should be struck down. As commenter Neil Dorr correctly pointed out, there would be no Constitutional basis to challenge the ordinance itself. That was careless.] I think, if supported properly, the repeal would survive a court challenge. The defense of the resolution will consist of appealing to Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520 (1993). That case held that a city could not, consistent with the First Amendment, deliberately pass a law outlawing a religious practice of a particular religion, in that case, Santeria. The Court concluded that the law was targeting one particular religion, and the arguments put forth in defense of that law were based on hostility to Santeria. This law approves animal sacrifice by anyone for any “religious purpose” if it is done legally and humanely. It isn’t ethical, however, to kill a healthy animal for no constructive purpose. If PETA can’t get this repealed, it is even more useless than I thought, which is almost impossible.

The ordinance is also obviously one championed by local Muslims for the benefit of their own faith while showing disrespect for the ethical norms and standards of the nation they live in. Thank goodness human sacrifice isn’t also an Eid thing.

Not all local Muslims support the ordinance, though: some opposed it citing sanitary concerns if the animals are sacrificed in a home and not in a sterile environment.

The authors of the Bill of Rights clearly never envisioned the full range of possible “religions” and their possible practices when they composed the Free Exercise Clause. “I think it’s the best compromise. We don’t want to restrict religious freedoms and we don’t want to keep it random without regulations,” Hamtramck Mayor Amer Ghalib said of the new sacrifice permissiveness.

Is circumcision the slippery slope that brought us to this ridiculous point of cultural confusion?

29 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: As The Founders Roll Over In Their Graves…[Corrected]

  1. No, I don’t think circumcision did it at all.

    The pandering to Muslims in America that began in earnest after 9/11 and continues unabated as Democrats and their allies in the news media and entertainment industry rationalize the Squad’s anti-semitism is more responsible.

    Admittedly, I know little about required practices of Islam. I don’t think animal sacrifice is one of the Five Pillars. Can anyone enlighten me here? Does a Muslim have to sacrifice a living creature in order to stay in the good graces of Allah?

  2. “Is circumcision the slippery slope that brought us to this ridiculous point ob cultural confusion?”
    Yes.

    For the record, sexually mutilating small children is evil. Full stop. As is any religion which demands it. Getting people to voluntarily participate in evil acts is one of the ways for groups to maintain cohesion, and may be a special case of exploiting cognitive dissonance. “X was done to me, and I had X done to my child. If X is evil, then I am evil. I am not evil, therefore X is fine, and the religion that demands it must be good.” I was circumcised, and used to not think anything of it, and confronting the fact that there is no good reason for it and it is intrinsically a form of sexual mutilation was hard.

    The fact that the Jewish practice includes sucking on the damaged penis afterwards to remove the blood does not paint the practice in a better light. I don’t know if any of the descendant abrahamic religious maintained that particular practice or not.

    • Phlinn,

      Most nurses I know would insist on circumcision. They cite the number of adult men they treat who end up with infections around the foreskin because of improper care. Most of those men have to then have a circumcision, and as an adult, it is far more painful than as a baby. In other words, there is a very good reason, namely sanitary, for circumcision. The case that it is sexual mutilation is very weak.

      I would request a reference to “the Jewish practice includes sucking on the damaged penis afterwards to remove the blood”. From a first pass, this would obviously contradict the prohibition from consuming blood.

      • “Most of those men have to then have a circumcision, and as an adult, it is far more painful than as a baby.”

        This is not true. It’s actually more painful for the baby. At the normal point in development the procedure occurs, the foreskin is adhered to the tip of the penis by the same kind of connective tissue that holds fingernails to nailbeds. If left, that tissue eventually breaks down, but the reality is that for babies, you’re doing something on par with pulling a fingernail out before doing the exact same thing that adult men who experience circumcision call extremely painful.

        It’s the exact same pain, except in children it’s usually conducted without anesthesia. You just don’t remember it.

        “Circumcision is often performed on infants without anesthetic or with a local anesthetic that is ineffective at substantially reducing pain (Lander et al., 1997). In a study by Lander and colleagues (1997), a control group of infants who received no anesthesia was used as a baseline to measure the effectiveness of different types of anesthesia during circumcision. The control group babies were in so much pain—some began choking and one even had a seizure—they decided it was unethical to continue. It is important to also consider the effects of post-operative pain in circumcised infants (regardless of whether anesthesia is used), which is described as “severe” and “persistent” (Howard et al., 1994). ”

        But while you might not remember, your body does.

        “We tightly strapped an infant to a traditional plastic “circumstraint” using Velcro restraints. We also completely immobilized the infant’s head using standard surgical tape. The entire apparatus was then introduced into the MRI chamber. Since no metal objects could be used because of the high magnetic fields, the doctor who performed the surgery used a plastic bell with a sterilized obsidian bade to cut the foreskin. No anesthetic was used.

        The baby was kept in the machine for several minutes to generate baseline data of the normal metabolic activity in the brain. This was used to compare to the data gathered during and after the surgery. Analysis of the MRI data indicated that the surgery subjected the infant to significant trauma. The greatest changes occurred in the limbic system concentrating in the amygdala and in the frontal and temporal lobes.

        A neurologist who saw the results postulated that the data indicated that circumcision affected most intensely the portions of the victim’s brain associated with reasoning, perception and emotions. Follow up tests on the infant one day, one week and one month after the surgery indicated that the child’s brain never returned to its baseline configuration. In other words, the evidence generated by this research indicated that the brain of the circumcised infant was permanently changed by the surgery.”

        And that leads to measurable negative outcomes:

        “Research has demonstrated the hormone cortisol, which is associated with stress and pain, spikes during circumcision (Talbert et al., 1976; Gunnar et al., 1981). Although some believe that babies “won’t remember” the pain, we now know that the body “remembers” as evidenced by studies which demonstrate that circumcised infants are more sensitive to pain later in life (Taddio et al., 1997). Research carried out using neonatal animals as a proxy to study the effects of pain on infants’ psychological development have found distinct behavioral patterns characterized by increased anxiety, altered pain sensitivity, hyperactivity, and attention problems (Anand & Scalzo, 2000). In another similar study, it was found that painful procedures in the neonatal period were associated with site-specific changes in the brain that have been found to be associated with mood disorders (Victoria et al., 2013).”

        And it carries on throughout your life:

        “Neonatal male circumcision is a painful skin-breaking procedure that may affect infant physiological and behavioral stress responses as well as mother-infant interaction. Due to the plasticity of the developing nociceptive system, neonatal pain might carry long-term consequences on adult behavior. In this study, we examined whether infant male circumcision is associated with long-term psychological effects on adult socio-affective processing.

        Early-circumcised men reported lower attachment security and lower emotional stability while no differences in empathy or trust were found. Early circumcision was also associated with stronger sexual drive and less restricted socio-sexuality along with higher perceived stress and sensation seeking.”

        What always frustrates me about this conversation is that this isn’t medically controversial, these studies have been replicated ad nauseum. Look at those dates! We’ve known this for more than 50 years. But it’s socially controversial, and I can’t tell whether it’s a religious thing, or a cultural thing, or a “it was done to me so it should be done to you” attitude, but the reality is that the United States of America is traumatizing 70% of it’s boys because they *might* have a sanitary issue later in life and need the surgery anyway, and it’s somehow butter to perform the surgery when it does life changing neurological damage, but you can’t remember it because it happens before you start to form memories.

        • HT,

          I’ll make an earnest effort to look into those papers. But if this isn’t medically controversial, why are these studies not touted by all those same people who want to control every other aspect of our lives for our own sake?

          • Consider what would the control here would be: They’re telling you to cut the skin off your son’s penis because it might cause an issue later in life, and most American parents are doing it without a whole lot of research. I mean… Having a non necessary surgery, consequences be damned, because it might cause a problem later in life *does* seem like the kind of control progressives love.

            Why don’t we hear more about that? Well…. One of my sources above (I omitted links so the comment didn’t spam, but could share them if you’d like) addressed that directly:

            “Our problems began when we attempted to publish our findings in the open medical literature. All of the participants in the research including myself were called before the hospital discipline committee and were severely reprimanded. We were told that while male circumcision was legal under all circumstances in Canada, any attempt to study the adverse effects of circumcision was strictly prohibited by the ethical regulations. Not only could we not publish the results of our research, but we also had to destroy all of our results. If we refused to comply, we were all threatened with immediate dismissal and legal action.”

            Why would that be? I think it’s multifaceted, but two of the bigger reasons would be that:

            1) The medical profession, at least in North America, has deemed the benefits of circumcision to outweigh the issues caused by it. This might change if we ever start to really address mental health in a serious way, or think about it for a while, but it is what it is.

            2) Cultural reasons. If we started talking about circumcision as male genital mutilation or just generally as being abusive, you’ll inevitably fall on a a couple of third rails: Jews and Muslims. These are holy rituals for them, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see how that might fall out, more for whatever reason America has really bought into circumcision*, and you’d risk offending a whole lot of parents who followed the advise of their healthcare professionals.

            *Significantly more than anywhere else in the West, and more than most of the world. America has a 70% circumcision rate. Canada has a 30% rate, The UK has a 20% rate, France and China are tied at 14%, Germany 10%, Greece has a rate less than 4%. Meanwhile, you could draw a circle around the middle east and safely assume that the countries within that circle have a 90%+ rate. Majority circumcision rates outside that circle are relegated to Muslim majority African and Asian nations.

            Which kind of takes me to the last obvious point: Most European Nations have circumcision rates less than 20%, and in most of those, the majority of circumcised boys are Jewish or Muslim. Europe doesn’t have a dick-sepsis epidemic. This idea that we have to cut half the skin off men’s dicks or they’re likely to face infection is not held up by the reality that most of the world doesn’t circumcise, and they don’t have dickrot epidemics. Unless… Again… American exceptionalism means that American boys are exceptionally unhygienic.

            • This is interesting, and I have so many more questions, more than I have free time to answer. What have the circumcision rates been over time? Is this disparity between the US and Europe only grown in recent years, or did the US make a leap into the world of circumcision, bucking the general trend?

              I agree that pushing an end to circumcision would run up against Jewish and Muslim practices, but the vast majority of people in the US are Christian or Nones (no religious affiliation). And given the general Bible-only take of Protestants, with St. Paul saying that circumcision of the flesh is of no avail… So many questions.

              • I am circumcized, but my sons are not.

                I think Dr. Spock might have caused a large increase that is now dying down. I understand he’s personally influenced a multitude of harmful traditions on infant care that we’re still undoing.

      • I had a briefer comment that just had a reference, but i can see why it would get filtered by default. I had additional commentary to add in any case. Jack, don’t worry about retrieving the comment that was just a link with no context.

        First, Metzitzah b’peh is the name of the practice, and you can find more references online.

        Second, of course cutting off the foreskin prevents infection of the foreskin. Similarly, cutting off a leg would prevent infection of that leg. Without numbers on the infection of other body parts in people with and without circumcision, there is no way to eliminate selection bias. Some people are generally not very hygienic and prone to infection, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a correlation between religious people and general hygiene. Are foreskin infections actually more common than other infections in uncircumcised people? It’s removal is associated with reduced sexual sensation as an adult, so there’s an additional long term cost to consider as well.

        Third, it is a sexual organ. It is body alteration of that organ away from normal, which is a form of mutilation. Is that not sexual mutilation by definition? Can you prove that it’s actually less painful for an infant who can’t communicate how painful it is? Even without direct memory of them, because infants don’t create lasting memories, events can still have long term effects. There’s an argument that even taking children away to be measured and evaluate right after birth damaged the long term bonding that would normally take place. Oxytocin levels are elevated in both mother and child in the hour after birth, and some hosital practices break that. I’d link to an NIH study on that, but two links in one comment is prone to wordpress filtering and I’d like to avoid it.

      • I would request a reference to “the Jewish practice includes sucking on the damaged penis afterwards to remove the blood”…

        Melbourne is a very Jewish area. I myself once heard two Jewish matrons discussing the “suck and spit” method of circumcision while sitting opposite me on a tram. Is that good enough for you? Illae ipsae locutae sunt.

        By the way, HT is mistaken about “… you could draw a circle around the middle east and safely assume that the countries within that circle have a 90%+ rate…”. Muslim practice is to do it in late childhood, so that rate could only ever be attained if they had a huge life expectancy, which they do not have.

        For our host:-

        The act of animal sacrifice is often practiced among Muslims during the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, and Muslims make up a majority on the council, it seems. There’s not much more that needs to be said, is there? … Are animal sacrifices for any reason ethical in the United States of America? I’ll tell you my answer: Emphatically no, and I want to see this law repealed. struck down…

        Yes, there is more to be said. Animal sacrifice is also among the practices of the Armenian Church. I imagine you wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water by suppressing practices that weren’t offensive in themselves rather than in a “looks like” way.

  3. I don’t know enough about Muslim animal sacrifices to comment, but from all the accounts of Israelite sacrifices, while most often a portion was offered as a holocaust to God, a portion was given to the Levites for their food, and a portion of the sacrifice was consumed by the ones offering sacrifice. Yes, some sacrifices were wholly consumed by flame, and the scapegoat was sent out into the wilderness to Azazel, so not every animal dealt with ended up being eaten by those directly involved. But the central sacrifice of Israelite worship, the Passover sacrifice, was to be consumed by the family procuring the year-old goat or sheep, or if the family was too small, several families could share the sacrifice together.

    So, from the stance of an animal being sacrificed for religious purpose, when a portion of the sacrifice would then be tithe to the clergy, and a portion would be eaten by the ones bringing the sacrifice, I can’t say there’s no constructive purpose. Even if the sacrifice is wholly offered up to God as a holocaust, if it is a prescription in the religion, then the observance of the religious practice is itself constructive.

    I also don’t know how many other religions proscribe animal sacrifice, or how they handle it. So I’m not sure what kind of door Hamtramck City is opening up. I’m also not sure if there are people who will view that as license to kill animals and claim it is for religious purpose, when they are not adherents of any long-established religion in which animal sacrifice is known to be practiced.

    Assuming, though, that the animals to be sacrificed are one’s own property, and one’s religion proscribes animal sacrifice, I would not think it ethical to forbid animal sacrifice for religious purposes. I think aversion to animal sacrifice, at least in the form of the Israelite temple sacrifices, is a matter of ick, not ethics.

    • I was going to reply the same regarding ancient Israeli sacrifice. Looking quickly, it does appear that Muslim ritual sacrifice is intended in a similar manner. One site says the meat is to be distributed to those most in need.

      In terms of what floodgates may open, there is an abandoned town in Connecticut owned by a land trust that kept getting trashed by “ghosthunters”. The owners closed the property to the public when they found remains of ritual “sacrifices” on the property. Unless the city requires sacrifices to be performed in facility licensed by the health department as a food-grade slaughterhouse, they are opening themselves to the same kind of litter of the worst kind all over the city.

    • I nearly posed this as an “Ick vs. Ethics” question. I decided when taking a living creature’s life is involved, however, the needle moves to ethics. Is killing animals for their fur so models can wear it ick or ethics?

      • Is killing animals for their fur so models can wear it ick or ethics?

        Can those animals talk, cover their trails through the snow, disguise themselves with soot to look like different breeds, and coordinate with other species to prevent themselves from being turned into a model’s wardrobe? Then it would definitely be unethical.

        To begin answering the question, though, we have to ask, is killing an animal intrinsically good, intrinsically wrong, or neutral? In general, I would argue that killing an animal is a morally neutral act, and that is because animals do not possess the intrinsic dignity we associate with beings of higher cognition like humans. This should be obvious, given that we claim ownership of animals, and we abhor claiming ownership of human beings. We make pets out of animals, and we abhor the idea of making another human a pet. We eat animals, and we abhor the idea of eating other humans. We use animal skins for clothing, and we abhor the idea of doing the same out of human skin. We forcibly neuter animals, but abhor the idea of doing so to humans. In other words, the value of animals comes from their relationship to humans, not in their own rights, or we’d have wars over lions eating zebras, police arresting cats for catching mice and tormenting them to death, and placing dogs on sex offender registries for mounting another dog to establish dominance.

        (As a side note, my children watch and love Disney’s “The Lion Guard”, the TV series spun off from the “The Lion King” movie. The premise is a lion cub and a gang of other animals helping to preserve the Circle of Life in the Pride Lands. Except you never see or even heard mentioned when the lions get to exact their tribute from those whom they govern. Always the lions are chasing off the hyenas or other “evil” predators. You never see the lion approaching a sick antelope saying, “Well, you understand, you’re sick, and lions gotta eat, too, and that’s part of the Circle of Life,” before tearing the pleading, protesting ungulate apart. Just a peeve of mine.)

        So animals exist as a resource that can be utilized by human beings for human needs. They are a shared resource, and limited, so they have to be handled accordingly. Hunting animals to extinction is unethical not because species never go extinct except by human hands, but because that eliminates a shared resource that had been beneficial. It is wrong to poach rhinoceroses for their horns because they are a threatened species, and unlimited hunting will result in no more rhinos to poach. Any other benefit we would have gained from them would be lost.

        Since animals are a resource to be used by humans, it then stands to reason that it is not unethical to kill and eat them, especially as we are omnivores and meat is a good means of providing the proteins we need in our diet. Since their value is subjective to human needs, it is ethical to kill them if they invade where they are not wanted. Since they are a shared resource, it is also ethical to kill them to keep their populations within what their habitat can sustain. Since they do not have the same dignity of human beings, it is also ethical to kill them when they are old, sick, or crippled.

        Killing animals would be unethical if the animal does not belong to you, because you’d be depriving the owner of his property. Poaching is unethical because it violates one or both of property rights and proper husbandry of our resources. Killing an animal out of maliciousness or sadism is unethical not because the animal ends up dead, but because of the harm to your conscience and social well-being such conduct inflicts.

        Where, then, does killing an animal to use it for clothing reside? Here we have a number of considerations to make. Can animal skins be effectively used for clothing? Some certainly can, so that’s not a problem. What does it say that there are alternative means of clothing that come from plants or other sources? Actually, that doesn’t say a great deal. Using skins for clothing of animals used for food just means you’re making efficient use of the dead animal. But what about skinning animals and leaving their carcasses to rot? I would say that even that isn’t unethical per se, because I can easily think of a situation where an animal has a pelt that makes very nice clothing, but whose meat is pretty awful, and moreover, that animal breeds quickly. It would be important to keep that population under control, and even if harvesting the pelts for clothing is intended instead of population control, because it would also help with population control prevents it from being an unethical endeavor. However, if the population could easily be threatened by harvesting for pelts, then it would be responsible to limit or even ban making clothing from those animals in order to maintain their populations.

        So now we’re at the original question. Is killing animals so that models can wear their fur ick or ethics? Killing of animals is not per se unethical. Wearing their skins is not per se unethical. Using animals solely for their skins is not per se unethical. So, if none of the other reasons cited above (for which killing animals would be unethical) are applicable, then killing animals to make an expensive wardrobe for the rich and shameless is solidly a matter of ick, not ethics.

        I would have liked to spend a little more time on whether a model spending her money to acquire said wardrobe is ick or ethics, because there are considerations of “once necessity and propriety are met, the rest of what you own belongs to the poor”. Do the shamelessly wealthy act unethically when they wear expensive clothes, have an enormous house, and sport a private yacht? There’s a degree where that would be unethical, but I unfortunately don’t have time now to develop that thought and tie it into the consideration above.

  4. I thik it may have started with the allowance of the use of peyote in religious ceremonies, and the allowing of self-mutilatory things like the Mandan torutre ceremony.

    • I think it started with the Jehovah’s Witness and the Pledge of Allegiance. I think the Peyote cases came after that.

      The fundamental problem arises, I believe, is because we have a diverse and inclusive society. Perhaps it is the most diverse and inclusive society that has ever existed. Arguments could be made for the Roman Empire, and societies of that nature, but my point is arguable.

      Having a diverse society is difficult simply because it is harder to have cultural norms that cover the entire society. Differences are bound to arise and are bound to be contentious.

      Yet, we take it as an article of faith that “Diversity is Good,” and no one is permitted to question it. We must accept it, even though it is a relatively unproven hypothesis. It may be that we are running into the proposition that “too much of a good thing can be bad.”

      -Jut

  5. Jack,

    The term “animal sacrifice” in this case is different than what most people imagine. The animals aren’t ritualistically slaughtered while a congregation watches on in religious rapture. The animals in question are humanely (if there is such a thing) killed and then butchered for meat in celebration of a holiday. This is more akin to “killing the fatted calf” oft referenced in the Bible. Lastly, the animals in question are often raised for this specific purpose, meaning there’s no danger of someone’s beloved goat going missing. Hunting, conversely, is even more brutal, yet completely legal and (mostly) accepted. You’ve said that hunting troubles you before, but never called for a ban. What differs here?

    Also, you state the law isn’t in violation of the first amendment, yet wish to see it struck down? That would seem to further weaken free expression more than propping up ethics. I know you believe that laws reflect a society’s ethical ideals, but in this case toleration would seem to make the most ethics sense.

  6. It isn’t ethical, however, to kill a healthy animal for no constructive purpose.

    This right here is the problem. You’re not a part of a religion that requires it, so you see no constructive purpose. If you were a part of that religion, the purpose would be obvious: to honor the creator of the universe (or some other deity), to follow holy commands, to avoid disaster, etc.

    It’s similar to the question of how “essential” churches should have been considered during COVID lockdowns. If you don’t believe in God, or don’t believe that God requires church attendance, then churches are obviously non-essential. No one will die from lack of church. And yet, people in China and Afghanistan and Nigeria risk their lives to go to church, so it sure seems like some Christians think it’s essential…

    I think that ethically, we do have to recognize that spiritual beliefs are something real to the people who hold them. In terms of laws that apply equally to people with many spiritual beliefs, we have to look at the practice itself, not decide for other people what’s essential or constructive. If it’s okay to kill a healthy animal in certain conditions for something we deem necessary (food), we have to allow other people to kill healthy animals under the conditions that they deem necessary. We can make laws about sanitation, about zoning, about the killing needing to be humane, even limit what species are acceptable to be killed; but they need to apply equally to the slaughterhouse or farmer feeding someone’s belly and the religious leader feeding someone’s soul.

    (In the same way, we had no right to close churches during the lockdowns. We could limit the number of people who could gather in a certain sized space, but that should have been the same for the fast food restaurant and the hardware store as the church. Or the BLM protest, for that matter.)

    • Should Muslims be allowed to subjugate women, enforce Sharia law, insist on female circumcision, and engage in other practices that counter basic cultural values? Islam is a brutal, backward, barbaric religion. It is reasonable for the nation to say: believe what you want, but there’s a limit to what you can do in the name of “religion.”

      • They should be allowed to do anything one is allowed to do for a non-religious reason. That’s my point. We can not allow things that are wrong to be legal because they are religious, but we can’t say they’re wrong or useless because they’re “just” religious. No matter what religion we’re talking about.

        So, Muslims have the same right to subjugate women that I do. Either of us are free to, so long as we find some women who want to be subjugated. Neither of us are allowed to subjugate unwilling women, which I agree with.

        But it’s unethical to say “Emily can subjugate willing women because it’s some weird BDSM thing, but Muslims can’t because it’s their religion.” Or vice versa.

          • Except you can sacrifice an animal for food, or leather or fur… you’re killing an animal because you think something useful will come from it. I’m not sure how to argue that a jacket is more useful or important than eternal life (or good fortune or what have you) except that I do believe in leather and I do not believe in the Koran.

            My position is just to add religion to the list of reasons animals can be slaughtered. As I said, I think they should have to follow whatever rules we’ve set for the slaughter of animals, they shouldn’t get special treatment because it’s for religion. If they have to set up the Islamic slaughterhouse in the meatpacking district and get safety inspections, that’s fine with me (as long as that’s the rule for similar non-commercial slaughter of animals for goods.)

            But like I said, during COVID I really came to resent the concept among nonreligious people that religion isn’t important to religious people. If I believed that X, Y, and Z were vital to not being tortured for all eternity, and you told me I couldn’t do X because it’s not essential or constructive while allowing other people to do it because they are being essential or constructive, I feel like there’s a good argument you’re violating the free exercise clause.

            • Emily’s position is essential mine and she covered far more than I would.
              Imagine if the tables were turned on religious practices of the majority. The whole point of the First amendment is to protect minor religions from majority persecution. You don’t have to like it just like offensive speech but it is protected.

              • It’s not a majority-minority issue, at least ethically. It’s a matter of objective harm. Requiring a Jewish male to have his head covered is essentially harmless. Making women wear habibs is not. Taking a wafer at communion kills nothing and harms nothing. Killing a goat to “celebrate” is materially different.

  7. While living and studying in Belgium there was a big debate about the practice of animal sacrifice in the streets of the capital of Brussels. The Belgian government’s solution was to allow the animal sacrifice to take place only at designated abattoirs. I do not know if that continues to be adhered to since the predominant language now spoken in Brussels is neither French nor Flemish, but Arabic.
    Regarding, the issue of circumcision, it is allowed in our country, not for religious reasons but rather for health reasons. The circumcised male is significantly less likely not only to get an infection or cancer of the penis but also to transmit certain sexual diseases.

  8. Many years ago, my wife and I took a cruise that included a couple of days in Istanbul. It happened to be during the Eid, but we didn’t know that. And then a guy walked by with a bag over his shoulder. Sticking out of the bag was an upside down leg and hoof of what looked to us like a zebra. We stared, stunned, along with others in the tour group. Then we turned to the tour guide. What the heck was that? Oh, it’s the Eid, she said. She really did not want to go into the details. To this day, “the Hoof” lives on in our vocabulary, as in “Are you going to have the Hoof?” in a restaurant that has osso bucco on the menu.

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