June 10th, 2011
02:33 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - The nation’s largest evangelical Christian umbrella group has come out against San Francisco’s proposed circumcision ban, evidence that the voter initiative is beginning to galvanize national religious opposition.
Thursday’s announcement from the National Association of Evangelicals was noteworthy because unlike Jews and Muslims, Christians are not religiously mandated to practice circumcision.
“Jews, Muslims, and Christians all trace our spiritual heritage back to Abraham. Biblical circumcision begins with Abraham,” said National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson. “No American government should restrict this historic tradition. Essential religious liberties are at stake."
"The proposed ban violates the First Amendment’s guarantee to exercise one’s religious beliefs," Anderson said in a statement.
How much of a national issue the ban becomes is yet to be seen. An effort to put a circumcision ban on the ballot in Santa Monica, California was abandoned last week.
Many Jewish and Muslim groups have come out against San Francisco’s proposed ban on the procedure that removes the foreskins of infant boys.
Jewish groups have suggested anti-Semitic motives behind the ban. Here’s Nancy J. Appel, associate regional director for the Anti-Defamation League:
And here’s influential Los Angeles Rabbi David Wolpe:
Many Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, alleged that a comic book called “Foreskin Man,” created by the proposed San Francisco ban’s author, draws on centuries-old stereotypes about Jews.
Just as the National Association of Evangelicals did Thursday, some Muslim groups have called the ban an attack on religious freedom:
The proposed ban would make it "unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis" of anyone 17 or younger in San Francisco.
Violators could be jailed for a year or fined up to $1,000.
The group that drafted the ban's language says the procedure has adverse physical and psychological effects and likens it to female genital mutilation, a claim that doctors generally reject.
In November 2010, CNN reported that medical evidence had shown mixed risks and benefits of circumcision:
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.