Silver Ring Thing

Silver Ring Thing is a United States-based sexual abstinence program which encourages young adults to remain celibate until marriage. Based on Christian theology and until recently funded by the U.S. federal government, SRT uses rock concert-style events in an attempt to appeal to 21st century teenagers.

SRT events feature high-energy music, club-style lighting and sound, music videos, sketch comedy, and a faith-based abstinence message. During the gathering, participants commit to a vow of sexual abstinence until marriage by purchasing rings.

Shortly before the end of the event, they receive their silver rings inscribed with Bible verses, which are usually worn on the third finger of the left hand. The verse is First Thessalonians 4:3-4 and it states "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 honor." The rings are tokens of their vow, a reminder of their decision to remain celibate. The rings also are a way to signal to others that they are pledged to celibacy. After they put on their rings, they take a vow to remain abstinent.


Silver Ring Thing was created in 1996 by Denny and Amy Pattyn, an evangelical Christian youth minister from Yuma, Arizona, as a way to combat what he saw as rising rates of STDs and pregnancies amongst teenagers, as well as a way to protect teens from what founders saw as American culture's unhealthy obsession with sex, which, according to Pattyn, was a byproduct of the "promiscuity [of] the sexual revolution of the '60s".

In 2000, Pattyn became Executive Director of the John Guest Evangelistic Team of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and SRT became part of the national outreach of the John Guest Team.

SRT claims to have won pledges of chastity of more than 25,000 young adults since its inception, and Pattyn has stated that SRT plans to have rings on the fingers of 2 million by 2010.

Initially, SRT was funded entirely by private sources, but beginning in 2003, SRT began receiving money from the federal faith-based initiatives program. As of 2004, SRT has received more than US $1,100,000 in U.S. government federal funding.

In 2004, SRT began expanding operations into the United Kingdom, with mixed results. While some teens in the UK embraced the message of abstinence, others rejected and ridiculed SRT for being anti-sex and unrealistic. Critics have stated that it seems unlikely that abstinence programs will attract widespread support in the UK because of the UK's different attitude about sexuality, but the group's Assistant National Director for the UK, Denise Pfeiffer says there is a real need for such a movement in the UK to curb what she sees as the ever-increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies, both of which she claims are the highest in Western Europe.

In 2005, the American Civil Liberties Union sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services because it believed SRT used tax dollars to promote Christianity. On August 22, the department suspended SRT's $75,000 federal grant until it submitted a "corrective action plan."

In 2006, Silver Ring Thing decided not to continue using federal funding and to continue with their message.

Legal action in the UK

In 2007 a 16 year old girl, Lydia Playfoot, from Horsham, West Sussex, UK took a case to the High Court of Justice alleging that her school had violated her rights under Articles Nine (Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion) and Fourteen (Prohibition of Discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated into UK Law by the Human Rights Act

In mid 2006, the school had instructed Playfoot and several other girls associated with her, not to wear the ring in school as it breached the school's established uniform code, and they did not consider it a symbol integral to religious beliefs.Religious Intelligence - News - High Court hears case for 'Silver Ring Thing'

It was later revealed that the girl's parents are directly involved in the UK branch of Silver Ring Thing. Heather Playfoot, her mother, is the company secretary of Silver Ring Thing (UK) Ltd and her father and pastor/elder of the Kings Church (Horsham), Phil Playfoot, is the company's Parents Programme Director. Andy Robinson, a former sales director for an international software company, youth pastor at the King Church (Horsham) and the official promoter, distributor and Managing Director of Silver Ring Thing (UK) Ltd has been identified as the author of a press statement issued in the name of Ms Playfoot following the High Court hearing.

On July 16, 2007 the High Court ruled that the girl was not having her human rights violated. It is as yet unknown whether she will appeal the court decision or attempt to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.BBC NEWS | UK | 'Chastity ring' girl loses case Lydia Playfoot, now 16, has left the school, and started to go to local college

SRT in popular culture

A parody of SRT is depicted in the Family Guy episode Prick Up Your Ears, called 'Opal Ring Crusade'.

An episode of The War at Home entitled 'Like a Virgin' features a character who is a member of the "Silver Ring Society" and wears a silver ring while pledging abstinence. Also in several episodes of the teen drama One Tree Hill there is a group called clean teens which promotes sexual abstinence.


See also

External links

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