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You can stick your silver ring up your, er, ring


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Courts suppress those poor religious mentalists again


A 16-year-old girl was not discriminated against after she was banned from wearing a "purity ring" in school, the High Court has ruled.


Lydia Playfoot was told by Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, to remove her ring - which symbolises chastity - or face expulsion.


The school denied breaching her human rights, insisting the ring was not an essential part of the Christian faith.


Miss Playfoot said she was "very disappointed" by the decision.


She said 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".


Miss Playfoot was one of a group of girls at her school who joined a movement called the Silver Ring Thing.


Originating in America, members wear a ring engraved with a reference to the biblical verse I Thessalonians 4:3-4, which translates as: "God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honour."


'Focus on sex'


Miss Playfoot said she should be allowed to wear the ring because Sikh and Muslim pupils could wear bangles and headscarves in class.


"Over two years ago, I was concerned at the number of teenagers who were catching sexually transmitted diseases, getting pregnant and/or having abortions," she said.


"The government's sex education programme is not working, and the pressure on young people to 'give in' to sex continues to increase.


"This is often because of the media's focus on sex and the expectations of others."


The school said the ring contravened its uniform policy and when Miss Playfoot refused to take it off, she was taken out of lessons and made to study on her own.


At an earlier hearing at the High Court in London in June, human rights barrister Paul Diamond said the school was "forbidden" by law to set itself up as an arbiter of faith.


"Secular authorities cannot rule on religious truth," he said.


Mr Diamond, who also represented Nadia Eweida in the British Airways' "cross case", argued that the school's actions violated Lydia's right to "freedom of thought, conscience and religion" under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


Miss Playfoot's first application to the High Court was turned down last year, but judges agreed to hear it after she appealed.


The teenager completed her GCSEs in May and has now left the school, but her father Phil, who is a pastor, said she wanted to pursue the case because of its wider significance for all Christians.

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