British teenager Lydia Playfoot lost a High Court challenge against her school’s decision to ban her from wearing a silver “purity ring”, symbolising her Christian faith and commitment to virginity before marriage.
Her lawyers argued that as an expression of faith, it should be exempt from school regulations banning the wearing of jewellery and that the ban breached her human rights to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Lawyers for the school countered that it made allowances for Muslim, Sikh and Christian students to wear items integral to their religious beliefs, but that purity rings were not integral to Christianity.
Poppycock! Who could forget the passage in the Gospel of John where Jesus is attending a wedding at Cana and his mother says: “They have no more wine. Also the bride weareth a silver ring to symbolise her belief in you and commitment to virginity, or something.”?
There are other troubling things about this case.
Whenever you hear a politician using the word “commitment”, this is code for ‘we want people to think we care about this without having to do anything about it’. Thus the Howard government is ‘committed to the environment’ and the Iemma government is ‘committed to public transport’. Much in the same way, I suspect, most religious teenagers are ‘committed to virginity’. I know I was.
Also, as a teenager, there was nothing I liked to do more than take organisations I disliked to the High Court. Unfortunately, part-time work and Austudy left a fairly significant funding gap that prevented me from indulging this pastime. Perhaps young Lydia is an interpreneur who has already earned millions on eBay. Or perhaps she was put up to the whole thing by her parents, who are high-ups in the British hierarchy of Silver Ring Thing, an American religious group which promotes abstinence.
After the verdict, Lydia released a statement which was also in no way influenced by Ma and Pa Playfoot.
I believe that the judge’s decision will mean that slowly, over time, people such as school governors, employers, political organisations and others will be allowed to stop Christians from publicly expressing and practising their faith.
Yes, those poor oppressed Christians. My palms bleed for them.