Someone pulled me up on this, saying that they consider mutilation because of religion a bad reason for doing it.
I actually agree, and I'm surprised it took someone so long to pull me up on this one. My reasons for including it in the 'acceptable' category are a mixture of tolerance and what I think of as the significantly lesser evil.
I actually don't agree with it, but when addressing the issues around circumcision, breaking a couple of thousand year's worth of religious tradition is something that takes education and baby steps. Just saying "You're wrong and your culture and traditions of the last few thousand years are wrong..." Well, most people are going to dig in their heels and think (rightly) one doesn't understand, or is a bigot.
So why would they even start to consider the other options in that circumstance? Why would they even start to listen to your objections with an open mind, since you clearly don't have an open mind when it comes to their way of life?
I also look at it this way, there are many cultures that would look at things Western culture does, like attitudes to nudity, the lack of skin contact, and the baby sleeping in a separate room to its parents, that they would find horrific and abusive ideas. They couldn't understand how you could want to psychologically scar your child this way.
If some of my religious friends had their child circumcised because that was an aspect of their religion, I would accept it without issue. I don't have to agree with it to support them and their cultural/tradional reasons for doing it. Plus, the child will be growing up in a culture where it's the norm, so they are way less likely to have issues with it.
My preference would still be for it not to be done, but that's personal, and I'm not in a place to understand the significance of thousands of years worth of teaching and tradition.
Having been to ante-natal and breast-feeding classes, religion has still been by far the best of the non-medical reasons I've heard for circumcision. I find it quite acceptable when compared to reasons like "I want him to look like his father," and the vastly more common, "I think it looks nicer."
Some people could say the same thing about female genital mutilation or foot-binding. "I think it looks nicer, and I want her to look like her mother." People would think these reasons disgusting, and they'd be right.
The back-up excuse is often one of cleanliness and preventing disease. They want to be a good parent and reduce the risks to their child. I figure if you can't teach your child to wash their gentials effectively, then what makes you think they wash their backside properly, an area way more likely to harbour unhealthy bacteria? As for the supposedly increased risks of STDs, if you've raised the kid right and educated them about sex properly, when they're older they should be using condoms anyway, so that's no excuse.
Basically I find these reasons fall into the "I can't be bothered trying to teach my child things they should know, so I'll just mutilate them and save myself some trouble" category.
Interestingly, I've yet to hear any of these reasons coming from the fathers, only the mothers. The fathers are usually silent on the matter. Maybe they agree, but they never seem to be the one jumping forward with the reasons.
It's gender differences again. There are things and areas where one gender will have incredible difficulty understanding the needs and mindsets of the other, where they will find things acceptable for one sex and not the other. Despite the way it's often presented, it's not all guys not understanding women's needs, it does in fact work the other way, too. But that's a different rant.
I'm not saying all men don't want their kids circumcised and are forced to by their partners. There will be plenty of men out there wanting it done for all the same reasons. I'm saying that to date, I have have not heard a single non-religious guy say he wanted his son circumcised, but I've heard a number of women pushing their reasons for the decision. Some guys will probably speak up in the comments now saying they were for it, and that's fine. But they will be the first I've heard it from. Whereas I've heard women backing up their reasons for circumcision for years.
The crazy (and disgusting) thing is, that if you asked these same people to consider genital mutilation of their daughters for the exact same reasons, they would likely be utterly horrified and think you a sick bastard.
I don't think there's any good non-medical reason for mutilating the genitals of the child you profess to love and care about, but religion and cultural tradition is certainly a far superior reason compared to cosmetic preferences.