Freedom of religion

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In Germany, Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution in Article 4.

Legal comments


In connection with circumcision, Dr. Jörg Scheinfeld stated at the Scientific Symposium on the day before WWDOGA 2014:

  • The fundamental right is a right to freedom.
  • Freedom rights do not allow any harmful interference in the body of other fundamental rights holders.
  • The essence of the right to freedom is the arbitrariness of the execution of the action.
  • If the rights of the child had to give way to the pure arbitrariness (!) Of the other, they would not be "rights".<[1]


Reinhard Merkel, Prof. for criminal law and member of the ethics council, explained in his essay "The Skin of the Other" why it is nonsense to claim that the religious freedom of the parents allows to cut something off from the body of the son.

A right to freedom to intervene in the body of others is inconceivable
The consideration is already wrong in principle and indeed, with all due respect, to the point of absurdity. No fundamental right of freedom, whatever its weight, allows, under whatever conditions, direct penetration into the body of another, no matter how trivial the interference. That does not just follow from any consideration. This is also out of the question from the start. Of course, there are emergency rights that allow bodily harm, such as self-defense or, within narrow limits, the state of emergency. And some collisions of personal rights of freedom with the physical sphere of third parties in the public space that is commonly claimed can actually only be resolved by weighing up - think of the ringing of the church bell and the inconvenient atheist's ear that is bothered by it. But a right to freedom to intervene directly in the body of others is inconceivable. Every active development of one's own freedom, be it religion, art, conscience or swinging one's arm, ends at the other's nose (not to mention his foreskin).
– Prof. Reinhard Merkel, Criminal lawyer (Süddeutsche Zeitung)[2]


  1. REFweb (4 June 2014). Dr. Jörg Scheinfeld; Symposium: Genitale Autonomie [7/11] [Dr. Jörg Scheinfeld; Symposium: Genital Autonomy [7/11]] (German), YouTube. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  2. REFweb Merkel, Reinhard (30 August 2012). Beschneidungs-Debatte: Die Haut eines Anderen [The Skin of the Other] (German), SZ. Retrieved 16 January 2020.