No decision on 'silver ring' case going to the European Court

By staff writers
July 24, 2007

Backers of Lydia Playfoot, the schoolgirl who unsuccessfully asked the High Court to be allowed to wear a silver ‘chastity ring’ to a school where it broke the uniform policy, have still not decided whether to appeal the decision in the European Court.

Lydia, from Horsham in West Sussex, alleged that her school had violated her rights under Articles 9 (Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion) and 14 (Prohibition of Discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act

The school had instructed Playfoot and several other girls associated with her, not to wear the ring in school in 2006. They said it breached the school's established uniform code and they did not consider it to be a symbol integral to a set of recognised religious beliefs.

It was later revealed that the girl's parents had been directly involved in the UK branch of Silver Ring Thing. Heather Playfoot, her mother, has been the company secretary of Silver Ring Thing (UK) Ltd.

Lydia's father, an elder of the Kings Church in Horsham, Philip Playfoot, has been the company's Parents' Programme Director.

Andy Robinson, a youth pastor at the Kings Church and an official promoter, distributor and director of Silver Ring Thing UK has been identified as the author of a press statement issued in the name of Ms Playfoot following the High Court hearing.

Back on 16 July 2007 the High Court ruled that Lydia was not having her human rights violated.

The silver ring case has been supported by high profile conservative evangelical campaign groups in the UK. They are concerned about Britain’s loss of status as a ‘Christian nation’ and believe that Christians are being victimised in such cases.

Speaking to MoreFour (Channel 4) TV, Jonathan Bartley, co-director of Ekklesia, commented: "The highest court in the land - The House of Lords, which is of course also the Second Chamber of Parliament – [currently] has 26 bishops in it by right, so [Christians] can hardly claim to be receiving a raw deal or losing out."

He continued: "Certain Christian groups appear to be actively looking to create cases of alleged discrimination in order to fight a court battle. A minority of Christians are developing a persecution complex, feeling that they are losing out to others."

"What is actually happen happening is that Christians are having to come to terms with a level playing field, and society will no longer tolerate special exemptions for Christians", said Bartley.

He went on: "In the most recent case the school was not persecuting, or even discriminating against the girl, but simply applying their uniform policy which said jewellery could not be worn. When the girl joined the school, she voluntarily signed an agreement that she would abide by it. She now wanted to opt out of it, and wear her purity ring on the grounds that other religions were allowed to wear their jewellery.

"But her ring was not something, which like [the insignia of] other religions, had been worn for hundreds of years by hundreds of millions of people, as a religious requirement. It was something invented in the mid 1990s, worn by a few thousand people - Christians and those who are not, around the world, and certainly not a requirement of any religion.

Concluded the think-tank co-director: "If an exception is made for the ring, then an exception should be made for the memorabilia for every good cause - Cancer Research, Make Poverty History, that we can think of. That is a truly level playing field."

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.