Silver Ring Thing?

I’ve refrained from blogging on this until the case was heard, but I’m sure you’ve all already heard about Lydia Playfoot’s attempt to wear a little bit of silver to school. The school argued that the ring, purchased from the Silver Ring Thing (which her parents now help run), contravened their jewelry policy. Lydia is arguing that that ban on her ring contravenes her human right under section 9 of the relevant European Act to practice her religion.

The school is arguing that there’s a clear difference between a Muslim hijab or a Sikh Kara as they are mandatory in their respective faiths, but the lawyers for Lydia are arguing, with probably a good case, that not all muslim women wear hijab. Therefore, if the school is permitting muslim school girls to wear hijab, one variant but not essential form of muslim clothing (some muslim girls wear it to express their faith, some don’t), then it should also allow Lydia to wear a ring that personally expresses her faith.

The case has been heard and the judges have reserved judgment, which means that they’ll umm and aahh about it for a few weeks and then come back with a ruling. And I hope that they’ll rule in favour of Lydia. It should be perfectly acceptable for ANY pupil to wear an item of clothing or jewelry that expresses their belief, as long as it is not a health and safety issue OR offensive. Frankly, a loose hijab or kara is more dangerous then a ring with no stone and both of those should be allowed in schools.

What do you guys think?

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  • tortoise

    As I understand it though (and this is certainly the implication from the Wikipedia articles you link), the wearing of the hijab or Kara are not so much about expressing their faith, rather they’re about obedience to the faith. So they’re a conscience issue, not a witness issue.

    (And yes, of course you’re correct that not all muslim women wear hijab. But from a conservative muslim perspective I suspect this could be portrayed as a breakdown in discipleship. It’s not the garment per se, it’s what the garment does – conceal from others’ eyes for the sake of modesty).

    In Lydia’s case, the ring is purely and simply a witness to Lydia’s commitment to her faith-based sexual ethic. Yes the chastity is scripturally commanded, of course – but the wearing of a silver ring certainly isn’t (whereas the wearing Kara does appear to be a Sikh requirement). And of course it’s not the ring making her chaste (whereas in a sense the wearing of the hijab does indeed ‘make’ the woman modest by actually concealing).

    So, Lydia should be warmly affirmed for her commitment to chastity… but her legal action over the wearing of a ring is, IMHO, deeply misplaced.

    (There’s also a whole lot that I could say about the fact that the legal action is based on her ‘human right’ to practice her religion. The way I see it, the Bible has a whole lot to say about human dignity, human responsibility… but actually not too much about “rights”, and certainly not in a 21st Century Western interpretation of the same).

  • bijoy

    Hi, i just surfed in searching for interesting blogs on Spirituality, you have a cool blog. Do keep up the good work. I’ll be back even though i live far from where you live. its nice to be able to see what people from across the world thinks.

    Warm Regards from the Other Side of the Moon.

    On a related note perhaps you might find the following link interesting. Its propossing a theory and i’ll like to hear your take on the subject via comments. See ya…

    Was
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    Bibby

    Kerala, India

  • http://N/A CM

    The issue isn’t as simple as you would like it to be, Peter, even though it’s probably the case that the secular authorities resent this girl for making a public commitment to chastity.

    Sexual modesty in the Christian faith is about NOT drawing attention to oneself. By contrast, Muslim women draw a heck of a lot of attention to themselves by wearing the hijab as if to shout ‘look at me, I am a modest woman!’. It comes across as self-righteous.

    Sex is supposed to happen in private, therefore it’s logical that wearing decent clothing in order to keep one’s privacy shoul go with NOT making any extra displays of a commitment to abstinence.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    CM,

    I think the ring draws her own attention to herself – that’s the point. It’s between her and God, to remind her of her choices, and unless you looked very closely at it you wouldn’t realise why she wears it. Nine times out of ten you wouldn’t even notice it passing her in the street.

    Now, a big piece of cloth wrapped around your head – That doesn’t draw attention does it?

  • http://andrewsvoiceuk.blogspot.com Andrew
  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Thanks for you kind words Andrew and your comment.

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