Friday, June 22, 2007

Chastity rings, human rights, and people being silly

The case of Lydia Playfoot, a Christian forbidden from wearing a chastity ring in school, is to be heard in the High Court. She claims the ban breeches the Human Rights Act, which guarantees freedom of religious expression. Amongst the complaints is that the school permits hijabs and turbans, so the banning of the ring is discrimination.

Martin has a good point about this complete waste of time:
"The worst thing about cases like these is that they fuel a sense of victimhood among religious groups and feed their delusions about creeping secularism."
This is true, as anyone who has paid any attention to the rantings of American fundamentalists over the years. Been to America. You can't move for Christians in America. People praising the Lord all over the place and no-one thinks this is strange. The social support and the constitutional protection should mean there isn't anywhere else on earth where a Christian fundamentalist would feel more comfortable. But lots of them don't; a surprisingly high proportion of them imagine they are being persecuted because they can't have prayer, religious symbolism or ceremonies in state schools.

He's probably right also to suggest the school shouldn't have bothered wasting their time with this but now it's gone this far, I hope they win. The school - and the law, if people persist - should be allowed to distinguish between genuine religious traditions and ones like this, which have patently been made up. There can't be a 'human right' to express your religion by wearing whatever you please when everyone else has to comply with some sort of dress-code. Otherwise you could get some disturbing results. If I were a Wiccan, for example, I could claim I'm expressing my faith by turning up to work in the buff. Which wouldn't be good because like most men my age, I look better with the clothes on.

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