Christian Lawyers Disappointed with Purity Ring Ruling

The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship has expressed disappointment after the High Court ruled on Monday that the schoolgirl banned from wearing her purity ring to school had not been discriminated against.

Deputy High Court Judge Michael Supperstone QC rejected the case of Lydia Playfoot, who had gone to the High Court in the hope of winning the right to wear her purity ring to her school in Sussex.

Miss Playfoot told the court that she felt her ring to be an important expression of her Bible-based attitude to relationships and sex. The ring is worn by teenagers who have signed up to The Silver Ring Thing, a Christian education project which promotes abstinence outside marriage.

She also told the court that she should be allowed an exemption to school regulations banning the wearing of jewellery, similar to exceptions made to Muslim girls wearing veils and Sikh girls wearing Kara bracelets at her school.

The school denied it had discriminated against Miss Playfoot in banning her from wearing the ring, stating that it contravened their uniform policy.

Andrea Williams, Public Policy Officer of the LCF, said, "If the uniform policy was uniform with no permitted exceptions then not allowing Lydia to wear her ring would be understandable. However, to allow exceptions for girls manifesting Muslim and Hindu faith indicates that today the only acceptable intolerance towards any faith group is towards a young girl wishing to manifest her Christian faith."

In delivering his judgement, Judge Supperstone said that Miss Playfoot was not "manifesting" her religious belief by wearing the ring, which would need to be the case in order to maintain that her human rights had been infringed by not being allowed to wear her ring to school.

Ms Williams said: "Lydia told the court that wearing the ring was an expression of her faith. In holding that Lydia's ring is not a manifestation of her belief, Judge Supperstone seems to be making judgments on what is and what is not a valid expression of faith."

Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights states that the right to manifest one's religion could be limited if necessary "for the protection of public order, health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others".

Ms Williams said it was "hard to fathom how a teenage girl's right to wear a purity ring should be limited because it could pose a threat to 'public order, health or morals'".

Following the announcement of the court's decision yesterday, Ms Playfoot said she was "disappointed" by the outcome.

She also expressed her concern that the ruling would "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".

The silver ring is worn on the third finger on the left hand and inscribed with "Thess. 4:3-4", referring to the Bible verses from Thessalonians which reads: "God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin."