Christopher Hitchens on Circumcision

While he had been involved in the religion debate for a long time prior to his publication, the issue of circumcision was of increasing importance to Christopher Hitchens (both as a moral issue and rhetorical strategy) towards the end of his life. We successfully tracked down two quotes in print (all from his best selling book God is Not Great) and one in digital form that comes curtesy of a debate with a Rabbi and a Priest which we’ll embed at the bottom. Neddless to say, Hitchens’ is against circumcision when done on an infant without consent. Stating that he believes that, if the child wants to be circumcised let them wait until they are of consenting age. 

As to immoral practice, it is hard to imagine anything more grotesque than the mutilation of infant genitalia. Nor is it easy to imagine anything more incompatible with the argument from design. 

Christopher Hitchens

God is Not Great, p. 223

In the above quote Christopher is making an argument that circumcision comes from religion but so does the argument from intelligent design. In a debate Hitchens once jested “what kind of argument from design is this? Babies are not born beautiful, they’re born ugly. They need to be sawn a bit at the genitalia.” In other words, if we’re truly made in the image of God, then why would God want us to continue with this practice. Now we’ll get to the below quote which comes three pages after the initial quote above.

Here Hitchens is arguing, similar to the above quote that the idea of  circumcision would nver befall humanity if not for religion. 

“Full excision, originally ordered by god as the blood price for the promised future massacre of the Canaaties, is now exposed for what it is-a mutilation of a powerless infant with the aim of running its future sex life…if religion and its arrogance were not involved, no healthy society would permit this primitive amputation, or allow any surgery to be practiced on the genitalia without the full and informed consent of the person concerned.”

Christopher Hitchens

God is Not Great, p. 226

Now we get to the video exchange in question where Hitchens goes after Rabbi Kushner in the midst of what had been an amicable conversation up until this point.

Note that even though the subject of this article is deceased, we still reserve the right to make modifications and changes to the content if we discover that, in his vast appearances on various media outlets, we have ommitted more relevant quotes from the journalist and author about the subject. 

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