The judgment of the Regional Court of Cologne (passed 7 May 2012) assesses the circumcision for religious reasons of a boy who is unable to consent as battery which cannot be justified by the consent of the parents. This judgment sparked a broad and controversial discussion, which was primarily concerned with the risks and benefits of the procedure, and overall with children’s and parents’ rights, freedom of religion, the right to physical integrity and the interpretation of the best interests of the child. In light of these aspects, the relationship of a secular society to religion in general and society in Germany to Judaism and Islam in particular is also being discussed. In the context of this debate, conducted intensively both in politics and the media, the German Ethics Council organised a public plenary meeting on 23 August 2012 to contribute to a well-balanced discussion.