German Court Continues Previous Government Policy…

German Court Continues Previous Government Policy… June 27, 2012

…of making Deutschland Judenrein. Note that it is the Improvers of Mankind and the Forward Thinking Progressives who are all about this continuation of National Socialist thinking. Here’s a recent charming image from an enlightened and progressive San Francisco group, for instance:

Christians, of course, understand that under the new covenant, there is no religious need to be circumcised. Circumcision was the old covenant sign pointing the need for “circumcision of the heart” in baptism. So the Church immediately left off the requirement for circumcision and all the other ceremonial requirements of the law of Moses in the first generation. You can read all about it in Acts 15 and Galatians (and for pity’s sake, I wish theologically illiterate homosexual activists would do so and save us the headache of endlessly saying that if you oppose unnatural sex, you also have to oppose eating oysters). But the Church does not tell Jews what they can and cannot do for the very good reason that they are not members of the New Covenant Church and therefore it is their own business what rites they perform in fidelity to the covenant they entered into on Mt. Sinai.

No. It is only post-Christian secular leftism that takes it upon itself to command Jews not to circumcise and Catholics to pay for somebody else’s contraception as a specific attack on their conscience out of spite. And that is not because post-christian culture suddenly sees some burning threat to the common good. It’s because Caesar is a jealous god and the God of Israel whom Jews and Christians worship is therefore his moral enemy and his followers must be punished.

Christians therefore, while certainly not feeling bound by Jewish ceremonial law themselves, have an obligation–both for the sake of justice to Jews and for the sake of preservation of their own liberty–to oppose this arrogant act of Caesar. May all decent Germans stand against this outrage.

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  • Matthew

    “Therefore it (the Council of Florence) commands all who glory in the name of Christian, at whatever time, before or after Baptism, to cease entirely from circumcision, since, whether or not one places hope in it, it cannot be observed at all without the loss of eternal salvation.”
    For those interested in context you can check out DS #712. I have not cross checked this with the official Latin text.
    I DO agree with Mark, however that the State ought to have NO role in this decision.

    • Mark Shea

      And, of course, what the council has in view is circumcision done *for the purpose of obtaining salvation*, not circumcision per se. Same as Paul in Galatians, who insisted that Christians who practiced circumcision would be cut off from Christ. That would, by the way, be the *same* Paul who had Timothy circumcised so as to not cause scandal when he preached to the Jews. Why the contradiction? There is no contradiction. Paul reject circumcision as a means of salvation, but had no objection to it when practiced as a means of charity. Same deal as with eating meat sacrificed to idols. It’s all in Romans 14.

      • Geoffrey

        Oh but Mark, why did you have to go and bring proper context into the debate? It’s so fun to read Church documents as absolute, isolated monoliths detached from all moorings to reality.

      • Matthew

        So what does the expression “whether or not one places hope in it” (ie circumcision) mean? The Council seems to say that even if it is done for non-salvific reasons it is still wrong.
        I am open to other interpretations.

        • Mark Shea

          My guess would be that this is specific to the time period and means “Don’t do this since you could lead others astray” much as Paul says not to eat meat if it risks leading others astray. In short, it would appear to me to be a discipline specific to that time and culture. Certainly the Church since then has permitted circumcision.

  • Harry

    The freakiest thing about this is what one German legal whiz (quoted in this- take on the story) gushed about the court case-
    “As opposed to many politicians, the court was not deterred by fears of being criticized for anti-Semitism or hostility toward religion…This decision could not only influence future jurisdiction, it could also lead the relevant religions to change their attitude with respect to the fundamental nature of children’s rights.”
    Doesn’t that just make you feel all rosy and grateful to Caesar for showing us the way to children’s rights? After all, killing a child in the womb is perfectly acceptable, but circumcision is icky and gross. Remember people, Caesar knows best!
    (In Germany too! The jokes write themselves!)
    @Matthew what’s that quote got to do with the current topic? Did us Catholics need reminding that circumcision is no longer required?

    • Andy, Bad Person

      The quote Matthew pulls doesn’t just say that it isn’t required, but that circumcision is forbidden for Christians. First I’ve ever heard that.

      • SecretAgentMan

        See Mark’s comment above. What’s forbidden is circumcision as a religious rite, not the procedure per se. There is/was medical opinion that circumcision is beneficial. Without getting into the hoo-hah over that, following the medical opinion is not the circumcision the Council of Florence was discussing. Divorcing the practice from the context and intention would be like maintaining that Christians can’t eat bread or wine if they’re conscious of mortal sin.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Divorcing the practice from the context and intention would be like maintaining that Christians can’t eat bread or wine if they’re conscious of mortal sin.

          Good analogy. That makes much more sense.

          • SecretAgentMan

            Thanks. Failing to recognize context and intention is what eventually turns some people into sedevacantists and schismatic traditionalists (I mean traditionalists who are schismatic, and not that traditionalists are all schismatics).

      • Ted Seeber

        First I’ve heard that too, since it has been common in my family for many generations. Of course, three generations back, part of my family WAS Jewish.

    • Alias Clio

      Perhaps they’ll allow circumcision in the womb, since, you know, it’s not a person yet and has no rights.

      • Rachel K

        Alias Clio, some people in the comboxes where I first read this story were making a similar point. When this ridiculous law was in effect in San Francisco, a two-day-old baby has a right to his own body and can’t be circumcised without his consent. Three days earlier, on the other hand . . .

        As is pointed out below, though, that point is moot in Germany because they aren’t as psychotic about abortion as the US.

  • Our Heroine

    I oppose the Muslim practice of female circumcision, and would welcome the courts intervention in outlawing that practice in a civil society. If I was pressed to explain why I oppose the German courts outrageous intrusion on the Jewish right to practice their religion in peace, yet welcome the courts prohibiting female circumcision, would it be right to say that reason shows us that male circumcision, while not medically necessary, does not cause lasting damage to the male body/psyche. While female circumcision in truth, resembles circumcision not at all, but is a mutilation of the female body that has lasting, harmful effects on her person – most especially in her ability to experience the pleasures of intercourse and a permanent disfigurement of her female parts.

    Sorry to be so frank, but I know this defense of the German courts has been made…

    • chris

      Yes, our Heroine, one would need to argue that male circumcision involves cutting that which is around the penis in such a way as to indelibly mark the man and his lineage for their God. Meanwhile female circumcision is not really circumcision, as it does not cut that which is around, but cuts so as to excise for the purpose of marking her as chattel. It’s the difference between sticking a pen in your arm to get a tattoo, and sticking a pin in your arm so as to sever a tendon. These are essentially very different acts, and as such one is morally neutral, while the other ought to be despised.

    • SecretAgentMan

      Right. The problem posed for modern minds is that bodily integrity and dignity are fundamentally religious issues; female circumcision is wrong because it contradicts the true message of integrity and dignity in the Gospels. Moderns can’t handle that — they see it as merely a competing “truth claim” that can’t be privileged. So they call it a “dogma” or “superstition” and banish it from consideration of enlightened policy. It’s completely lost on them that the criteria they use to banish “mere dogma” from consideration are themselves “mere dogmas.”

    • QuestioningTheRoutine

      Mutilation is the removal of a healthy body part. The AAP does not consider circumcision to have basis in medical fact any longer, they consider it a cosmetic procedure, because the science is so weak to medically support it. And we ARE now discovering real, grave and lasting harm (circumcised men are 4.5 X more likely to suffer from ED, according to a recent study in the Journal of Men’s Health… and no, one’s personal anecdote of not having ED and being circumcised does not contradict this data) from removing an integral and perfectly designed part of the male sexual anatomy. “Because we did it for years and we seem to be fine” is not a valid argument for circumcision. I’m *not* saying it’s right for the Germans to ban it, but to merely characterize circumcision as a useless flap of skin that is harmlessly removed shows a fundamental cultural (and I would say WILLFUL) misunderstanding of the male anatomy, driven by a lack of desire to find out that harm was done to so many babies and to one’s own person, needlessly. Also thankfully, circumcision is falling, with only 1/3 of US newborns being circumcised. (And to the above poster, yes, apparently, Catholics DO need to be reminded… I come across couples who think Christians and Catholic Christians still need to circumcise all. the. time.)

      • Michael

        “[C]ircumcised men are 4.5 X more likely to suffer from ED”

        ED is most closely associated with aging. Perhaps older men are more likely to be circumcised.

      • Ted Seeber

        In Catholic terms though, I’ve never quite figured out why ED was a problem.

        If a man has already had all the children God intends him to have, isn’t ED (and thus, the physiological response to the mortal sin of lust going away) a blessing?

        • enness

          The problem is that it doesn’t render him no longer married.

  • James

    I get the impression that this looks different from the US, where apparently most boys are still circumcised as newborns. Here in Britain – and I suspect in Germany as well – neonatal circumcision is extremely rare, and to tell the truth, it strikes me personally as very strange and rather barbaric. I had no idea it was so common elsewhere before reading the article. So while the historical connotations are unfortunate, I think there is a serious discussion to be had as to whether the right of Jews to practise their religion freely really takes precedence over the general principle that individuals, even children, ought not to be subjected to medical procedures which are not necessary for their health and to which they have not given consent. This is not to mention the issue that originally brought the case before the court: the tiny but not nonexistent risk of complications arising from the procedure. The situation seems to me to be not entirely dissimilar to cases in which the courts have allowed doctors to give blood transfusions to the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses even against the wishes of their parents. Obviously, there is an enormous difference between forcing a child to undergo major surgery without blood transfusions, which is often life-threatening, and having a child circumcised, which almost never is, but nonetheless the principle has been established that the religious rights of the parent cannot in all cases trump the interests of the child.

    I’m not saying that banning infant circumcision would be just. Nor am I denying the importance of freedom of religious practise, for Jews or for anyone else. But I do think that there can be legitimate argument over whether neonatal circumcision is really compatible with the rights of the child, as well over whether the religious rights of individuals include the right to have unnecessary medical procedures performed on other people, even if those people are their children. That argument ought to take place in the public forum and in legislatures rather than in courts, but even so the situation doesn’t strike me as being anywhere near as clear-cut as you make out. To link the decision with the Holocaust and accuse the court of ‘National Socialist thinking’ and of trying to make Germany ‘Judenrein’ would be appalling if it weren’t so risible. It’s certainly indefensible and probably libellous.

    Apologies for the rant. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and enjoy it a lot, but I was dismayed by how you seemed to assume bad faith on the part of the court and by your pushing the really pernicious ‘Germans = Nazis’ meme.

    • Patrick

      “religious rights of the parent cannot in all cases trump the interests of the child.”

      How are the child’s rights being ‘trumped’? How could an infant have different interests than his parents?

      • bpuharic

        Children aren’t property. Medical care providers, for example, can give a baby a blood transfusion over the objections of its parents.

      • QuestioningTheRoutine

        A male child could have the interest of keeping his body whole and not having a healthy body part amputated. I mean, removed a baby girl’s breasts at birth will reduce her risk of breast cancer. Also, removing her labia may well make it easier for her to clean and avoid infections. But because those things aren’t cultural norms, we find them horrifying. A boy *does* carry a risk of death from circumcision. It is rare but real. What sadness for boys to die every year because of a non-religious and non-medical procedure… to die to look like one’s father? To die because one has not even questioned the necessity of a culturally-driven procedure? Death is not the only complication either. Botched circumcisions cause side effects that some men even think are normal, because it’s what they know, such as leaning or bending to one side because of scar tissue, having a dry scarred keratinized glans because of decades of rubbing against clothing instead of being protected in the natural environment of the foreskin, the list goes on. I think the Germans went too far, and the SF group is abhorrent, but I do not think it is outside the realm of credulity to pause and ask ourselves if our defense of this cultural practice is based on *evidence* or *tradition*.

        • enness

          Come on, this is silly:
          “I mean, removed a baby girl’s breasts at birth will reduce her risk of breast cancer.”
          (Baby girls don’t have any…they’re babies.)
          “Also, removing her labia may well make it easier for her to clean and avoid infections.”
          (I highly doubt it. If anything, it would probably do the opposite. Newsflash: female and male anatomy are substantially different.)

    • enness

      James, your appraisal of what is necessary does not take into account spiritual health.

      Also, eugenics has made a roaring resurgence in Europe. Is it that much of a stretch to wonder if there might not be some latent, residual anti-semitism?

  • bpuharic

    OK I give up. What’s ‘unnatural’ about gay sex? We straights have many of the same practices gays do. There’s nothing ‘unnatural’ about it, except your preoccupation with others’ sex lives, which is perverse.

    This is merely Taliban Christianist theology that thinks people have no rights in a theocracy. It’s risible that Christians who, as the document “Dabru Emet’ pointed out, created modern Western anti-Semitism, should now be playing victim. Truly ironic!

    • Mark Shea

      I get so confused. Is it on Wednesdays that I’m secretly in favor of gay sex or Tuesdays that I’m a Taliban Christian bent on depriving gays of their rights?


      • bpuharic

        Call Maggie. She’ll give you your orders. Backpedaling isn’t very becoming!

        • Mark Shea

          You don’t read the blog much do you?

          • James H, London

            It doesn’t look like he reads anything much…

            Hold up to the light, not a brain in sight!

    • If you’re going to cite an irrelevant 10-year-old document, as least get it right: Dabru Emet doesn’t say that Christianity created something called “modern western antisemitism.”

    • Ted Seeber

      ” What’s ‘unnatural’ about gay sex?”

      Since nobody bothered to answer the question- I will. What is unnatural about gay sex is that it is for pleasure only and not intended to bring about new life. Exactly, in other words, the same problem we Catholics have with extramarital sex, or with contraception.

    • So, you believe that the biologically appropriate receptacle for sperm is the male rectum? What biological purpose does that serve, exactly?

    • enness

      I would also point out that certain kinds of acts among straight couples have been highly touted and pushed in recent years. I do not find the timing to be coincidental at all.

  • Thibaud

    Terryfying decision indeed. An almost identical reasoning could be used to criminalize infant baptism (“They did not have a choice, you see”). And I’m willing to bet that such criminalization will be introduced very shortly in the thing-that-used-to-be-Europe (to use a Sheaian idiom ;)).

    On a lighter note, the almost universality of circumcision in the US is a never ending source of amazement to us Europeans where circumcision is practiced only for religious reasons, meaning that about 100% of non-Jewish non Muslim Europeans are uncircumcised. I have no opinion on the health arguments for one case or another, I just wanted to recall my bafflement when I learned of this strange American practice through sitcoms and the like…

    • Ted Seeber

      For that matter, Europeans once considered daily bathing also a strange American Practice (in fact, it’s one of the few customs Native American tribes successfully transferred to the rest of the culture).

  • Thibaud

    OK I may have been asking for it… Bring in the “Europeans should shower more !” comments !

    I will then ritually answer with the “Americans should eat less sugary products” confession of faith and the dance of stereotypes shall be complete.

  • Richard Bell

    Is it just me, or did the court not think this through. By asserting a right to bodily integrity, have they not just declared PBA to be absolutely wrong?

  • Imrahil

    PBA= partial birth abortion?

    Abortion is forbidden under German law, and PBA is actually to be punished under German law.

    However, the court did indeed not think this through… and the reason there is not so much outrage about the decision it is that it is plainly absurd. It is most clearly unconstitutional per se, and I cannot imagine that it would pass as anything else were it put to the test in Karlsruhe about this time.

    However, it does show some dangerous tendencies of present German lawyering. Thus, there is always the idea around of contrasting rights with each other and saying that “xy does not mean yz”. Indeed the parental guidance, along the true principle that does not totally exist without boundaries, has been extended and at the moment is being extend almost to a license for the State to determine whichever procedure of education is judged good for the child.

    However, in this case, I wouldn’t actually have a problem if the State forbade circumcision done for other than religious reasons. And perhaps you could defend the opinion that under existing law this is already forbidden.

    The problem is that religious freedom, too, is quite probable to be played down.

  • Imrahil

    Of course I meant the fettering of parental guidance has been extended, etc.