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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The spirit and the letter of the law

At Reuters FaithWorld blog - Dutch vote to ban ritual animal slaughter, Jews and Muslims unite in protest - and here's a bit from another story about the issue, this in the New Statesman - Is Kosher still kosher?...

The lower house of the Dutch parliament has voted by a large majority to ban the slaughter of animals without prior electric stunning, as practised by religiously observant Jews and Muslims. The Netherlands would not be the first European country to have such a law -- it is already banned in Sweden, Norway and Switzerland -- but the vote has inevitably reopened the debate on the balance that any modern society must strike between common standards and the rights of minorities to maintain their own traditions ...

The collision of secular society's evolving understanding of what's ethical and religious groups' faith traditions/teachings is rife in the news lately -- in this instance, my sympathies lie with secular society's ethics. Maybe I'm not objective because I'm a vegetarian. And I know this is about Judaism and Islam, neither of which have me as a member, but in many of these collisions between my own church and the state, the religious teachings are often based on a few time-sensitive bits of scripture that don't seem integral to the core faith, and when I weigh that against suffering, I want to end the suffering. I hope I don't offend anyone, but perhaps this is a case where the religious letter of the law is now frustrating the actual spirit of that law, -- eliminating unnecessary suffering.

- Marianne Thieme, leader of the Dutch Animal Rights Party, at a goat farm in Amstelveen, the Netherlands, December 11, 2006/Koen van Weel - Reuters


Blogger Jeff said...

A quote from the article...

“Old people are scared and young people who are just married are calling me to ask if they should stay here, today it is the schechita and tomorrow what, circumcision? People are afraid.”

Actually, that concern is not totally unfounded. There's a male circumcision ban up for referendum in California, right? What do you think of that?

3:03 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Jeff,

No, you're right - there's been a lot of stress in the Netherlands and adjoining countries in the last few years about npn-Christian religionous practice.

I think, though I coulde be wrong, that the animal rights people are not so much anti-religious as anti-cruelty. I'd suppose that if secular groups were doing similar things, they'd also be after them too.

I don't know much about the anti-circimcison debate. I'd thought circumcisions were usually pefromed because it was better for health (UTIs, AIDS), but apparently sometimes it can cause problems later? Some say that there shouldn't be curcumcision because it's unnatural, but I don't think that's necessarily a good argument. There's a whole wikipedia page on the subject -
Is it thought that the controversy is anti-religious? What do you think about it?

4:39 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I'm against the ban.

My older brother and I both needed to have it done, due to phimosis.

I was 16 at the time. It was a horrible experience I wouldn't wish on anyone. I much prefer the way I am now. I only wish it had been done when I was an infant.

5:45 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


Until the ban recently came up, I'd thought everyone was circumcized as infants - didn't realize some people chose not to.

6:44 PM  

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