Donald Trump’s call to register all Muslims living in the United States has raised the specter of Hitler’s separation of German Jews from the German population, but Hitler’s policy of making Jews wear a yellow star has its origins in a ruling by the Catholic Church more than 800 years ago, according to an article published on RawStory.com.
Lateran Council IV is largely remembered among Catholics because it described the Eucharist as an act of transubstantiation (that is, that the bread and wine became the literal flesh and blood of Christ), and called down for harsh punishments against heretics.
What is often omitted in historical accounts of the Council was its harsh pronouncements about Jews who lived in Christian lands. Canons 67-70 mandated that Jews be forced to adhere to the regulations set forth by the Church — laws that crossed national borders to wherever Jews lived in Christendom.
While it is easy to dismiss these laws as products of their time, it is Canon 68 that has continued to have repercussions down through the 21st century and in the rhetoric of Donald Trump. Trump has called for the “watching” of mosques and Muslim-Americans because he links them all to terrorism. And Americans cannot tell peaceful Muslims from those who are plotting destruction.
“Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.” – statement on Trump’s campaign website, quoted by CNN
Christians harbored similar fears about Muslims — and Jews. Instead of terrorism, however, what the Church feared was that secret Jews would impregnate Christian women, or that a Jewish woman would seduce a Christian man, which they thought would be disastrous. Thus, the Church mandated that Jews had to wear special clothing so that Christians could tell who they were interacting with.
Canon 68 said “we decree that such Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off from other peoples through the character of their dress.”