Religion is Secularised Tradition: Jewish and Muslim Circumcisions in Germany

Lena Salaymeh, Shai Lavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article demonstrates that the legal reasoning dominant in modern states secularises traditions by converting them into 'religions'. Using a case study on Germany's recent regulation of male circumcision, we illustrate that religions have (at least) three dimensions: religiosity (private belief, individual right and autonomous choice); religious law (a divinely ordained legal code); and religious groups (public threat). When states restrict traditions within these three dimensions, they construct 'religions' within a secularisation triangle. Our theoretical model of a secularisation triangle illuminates that, in many Western states, there is a three-way relationship between a post-Christian state and both its Jewish and Muslim minorities. Our two theoretical proposals - the secularisation triangle and the trilateral relationship - contribute to a re-examination of religious freedom from the perspective of minority traditions and minority communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-458
Number of pages28
JournalOxford Journal of Legal Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Germany
  • Jews
  • Muslims
  • circumcision
  • religion
  • secularism
  • tradition

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Religion is Secularised Tradition: Jewish and Muslim Circumcisions in Germany'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this