Don't Retract Pack

Christians: Baptism, Not Circumcision

A colleague recently designed and ordered several products with this slogan. She created the item because, as a Christian woman, she is tired of hearing the (uninformed) excuse from some Christian parents around her that "circumcision is in the Bible, so we should do it."

With this item, she is essentially saying, "IF you are going to be a 'Christ-follower' then Jesus is the 'new covenant' - represented by baptism (and really, by salvation - grace through faith). Circumcision is not only meaningless in the Christian faith, it is also completely contradictory to Christian faith because it is as though one is saying, "Christ is not good enough for me, so I am going to abide by 'old covenant' ways just in case." It is denying one's grace through faith - salvation in Christ.

Circumcision has absolutely NO place in Christianity.

Of course, Jesus' close followers and the early church clearly understood this. Circumcision was entirely forbidden in the newly formed church, and it remained this way for all of Christian history, until some uninformed parents in the U.S. started cutting their boys in the 20th century (at the urging of Kellogg and Graham to 'cleanse' and 'purify' boys and men). Genital cutting was such a grave offense, in fact, that if someone did cut their baby, they would be ex-communicated from the church. At some points and places in Christian history, if a mother did not protect her infant boy from genital harm, she was deemed guilty on several accounts (against her child and against the church) and was subject to stoning.

We thought many of the responses this tshirt brought about were interesting, so are sharing here as an opportunity for further exploration of the topic.

To obtain ample information regarding the place of genital cutting (or lack thereof) in religious practices throughout history, these books are a great place to start:

Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America

Circumcision: A History of the World's Most Controversial Surgery

Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective

Covenant of Blood: Circumcision and Gender in Rabbinic Judaism

Circumcision Exposed: Rethinking a Medical and Cultural Tradition

Circumcision: The Painful Dilemma

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision

Circumcision: What Every Parent Should Know

A Surgical Temptation: The Demonization of the Foreskin and the Rise of Circumcision in Britain

For additional reading pertaining specifically to Christianity and Circumcision see this page of resources.

Additional resources regarding circumcision (books, articles, online sites) can be found here.


  1. I was just thinking about this this morning. How do Christians reconcile that God created their baby boy as a flawed human being that needed a little snip to be 'perfect'?

  2. except that it is NOT a 'little snip' - not even close. and they certainly need no perfectly created organs amputated. Someone knew what he was doing when he designed the human body -- he did not make mistakes.

  3. As a Christian intactivist I can assure you that it's NOT a Christian doctrine.

    In fact, the new testament from which we base our Christian beliefs says that Circ is NOTHING. It has NOTHING to do with salvation. The new testament makes it clear that God is after our hearts, not our appearance. It's from Jewish law (the old testament) and even then the circ that was being done to Jewish babies is not even CLOSE to the mutilation being done in this country.

    Christians that believe that God wants them to mutilate their little babies don't know what the Bible actually says about it.

  4. Circumcision is unquestionably a violation of human rights and never right. But baptism offends me too.

  5. I agree. Baptism doesn't remove any parts of someone's body. I do believe this message works well for misguided Christians who thinks circumcision is a 'requirement' when it's not. It's tragic this isn't universal knowledge among all Christians.

  6. Sprinkling water over a baby does no bodily harm. Whether or not the child grows to choose the same beliefs as his/her parents, baptism does not permanently alter or maim the body. Obviously the same is not true for those whose genitals are cut for religious (or other) reasons.

    That said, this shirt is for Christians - to encourage them to pause and recognize that there is MUCH more to the religious history of circumcision than most people today are aware of. Genital mutilation was NEVER practiced among early Christians, it was prohibited by the early Christian church, as well as Jesus' followers. It is simply a practice that never had place in the religious tradition. Yet how many Christians are remotely aware of all that is in the NT AGAINST circumcision? Or any other aspect of the history of circumcision?

  7. you can get de-baptized. did you know that? you cannot regain 25 square inches of skin with all the nerve endings gone with circumcision. Baptism is just as giving the baby a blessing.

  8. if a person is baptized and not practicing, baptism is pretty meaningless. America was founded as a place to respect religious freedom.

    a baby born into a Catholic family is going to learn his family's faith and culture the same way an atheist family might raise their kid their way. and then both kids may grow up and reject everything their parents held dear.

    Baptism doesn't stop someone from being atheist, but circumcision deprives someone of a body part forever.

  9. I was baptized, too....and I do not practice that particular religion....baptism did NOT hurt me, circumcision would have PHYSICALLY hurt me! HUGE DIFFERENCE!

  10. true true Claire. One thing I have always said, we are a practicing Catholic family, my kids go to Catholic school as well. If my child later in life says to me, "mom, I want to be an Atheist", I will let him/her be what he/she wants. The important issue here is I only want them to be good people, to be compassionate to others and to give love. I will feel like a failure if they become insensitive citizens.

  11. Hey, I'm an atheist as well, but I would much rather have had holy water sprinkled on me (since it has no meaning to me, right?) than to have had a part of my body cut off.

  12. I agree Enith!
    I mean what I said in the most respectful way, we can all be offended in different ways. I'm just pointing out why I think the two are pretty different in terms of lifelong effects.

  13. Really, this shirt is not about one practice over the other... (although, like Steven pointed out - water sprinkled over your head can be meaningless or meaningful depending on your future choice, whereas having 1/3 your penis chopped off is always 'meaning-filled' in one way or another).

    If someone is atheist, then this shirt probably won't be one they find beneficial to sport around town. But for someone deep within Christian culture, surrounded by others who are (for the most part) naive when it comes to their own Christian history and circumcision... it may be a good conversation starter.

    In the end, ANYTHING that gets us to wise up to the true origins of genital mutilation (it was NOT even done as it is today in ancient Judaism or among the Hebrews or 'in the Bible' OR even a 'sign of the covenant' which is probably myth #1 within uninformed religious circles today) and anything that gets us to bring an end to each act of MGM, is worth it.

  14. We didn't have our son baptized...we consider religion to be a learned choice rather than something inherited or pushed on someone...and we of course would never cut our child's body either.

  15. I totally respect people's choices when it comes to choices that will do no bodily harm.

    My daughter enjoys, and I mean *really* enjoys going to mass and getting prepared for her first communion. If she tells me, mom, I hate it and I want to go to another school, why would I force her to do something she doesn't want to do...

    It's hilarious when I hear non-believers say that we are *indoctrinating* our children, but they do the same thing to their children. Pushing their *beliefs* or non-beliefs into their own children.

    I am practicing my religion and we do it as a family. I am not going to leave my kids at home while I go to church. That sounds pretty insensitive. I want them to participate because we are a family.

    IF then, they decide, Catholicism is not for them -I'll respect their choices and no harm has been done. They could choose to either de-baptized themselves or follow another religion.

    The only thing I do expect from them is to have respect towards others, tolerance and love each other. I want them to be compassionate citizens and to help the helpless if they can.

    I'm okay if you don't believe in God or Jesus, but please at least have some respect and dignity towards each other. (I'm not saying anyone in particular, I'm generalizing!) :)

  16. I'm curious what exactly "Kellogg" and "Graham" said and when regarding purifying boys by circumcising them? The reason why is although I completely disagree with the cultural practice of circumcision, my parents are not. I know that the way my parents view it is from the many years of it being drilled into their minds that circumcision was the way to go. However, I would really like to be able to pinpoint where/why in our US history the practice became so universal.

    ( I too agree that circumcision is clearly just another form of genital mutilation)

  17. @Bridget Daffinrud-James Wikipedia has info on John Harvey Kellogg that may shed some light on the historical climate that instigated circumcision in the United States.

  18. As a Christian intactivist, I go CRAZY when I hear other "Christian" parents using that as a circ excuse. I don't care WHAT religion you follow; there is no reason good enough for slicing up babies. *sigh*"

  19. Here is another link about Kellogg and his views: He was instrumental in circumcision starting up in the Western world.

    A great reference for anyone who tries to say they want to circ their baby because it's in the bible - this link shows the clear difference between biblical and modern circ.

  20. @ANI: "you cannot regain 25 square inches of skin with all the nerve endings gone with circumcision."

    Let's not go overboard. 25 sq in would be very abundant. The average is more like 15 sq in (100cm^2). You can see a picture (NSFW) and animations here.

    You can see some of the many teachings against cirucumcision in the Greek scriptures ("New Testament") here.

    My one reservation about this slogan is that it could be taken as anti-Semitic. I suggest it say "For Christians - baptism, not circumcision"

  21. Okay, I'm a Christian and didn't actually know that (cringe). Thanks for the information! Luckily, I decided after watching 3 circumcisions in nursing school (nauseated the whole time) that any boys we were blessed with wouldn't have to go through that. The hubby agreed after an in depth description of the process. I didn't even need to make him watch the videos!

    @ Hugh7, couldn't the Jewish folks among us make up a t-shirt that says Bar-Mitzvahs not circumcision? Just a thought. I would think that Christians would wear the baptism t-shirt and Jews the Bar-Mitzvah (or whatever they decide) shirt, and no one has to worry about anti-anything except circumcision.