Silver Ring Thing
Silver Ring Thing is a United States|US-based sexual abstinence program which encourages young adults to remain Sexual intercourse|sexually Celibacy|celibate until marriage. Based in Christianity|Christian theology and until recently (see below) funded by the Federal Government of the United States|U.S. federal government, SRT uses Rock and roll|rock concert-like events (the “Thing” in Silver Ring Thing) to appeal to 21st century Adolescence|teenagers.
SRT events feature Dance music|high-energy music, Nightclub|club-style lighting and sound, music videos, sketch comedy, and a faith-based abstinence message. During the gathering, participants are encouraged to sign a pledge to abstain from sexual relations until they are married.
Once participants have signed the Virginity pledge|abstinence pledge, they are presented with silver rings inscribed with Bible|Bible verses, which are usually worn on the Ring finger|third finger of the right hand. The rings are tokens of their vow, a reminder of their decision to remain celibacy|celibate. The rings also are a way to signal to others that they are pleged to celibacy.
Silver Ring Thing was created in 1995 by Denny Pattyn, an Evangelicalism|evangelical Christian youth Religious minister|minister from Yuma, Arizona, as a way to combat rising rates of Sexually-transmitted disease|STDs and pregnancy|pregnancies amongst teenagers, as well as a way to protect teens from what founders saw as Culture of the United States|American culture’s unhealthy obsession with sex.
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 even ridiculed SRT for being anti-sex. Critics have stated that it seems unlikely that abstinence programmes will attract widespead support in the UK 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 the ever-increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections and teenage pregnancies, both of which 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 United States dollar|$75,000 federal grant until it submitted a “corrective action plan.”
Criticism of SRT
Critics of SRT argue that Virginity pledge|virginity pledges are an unrealistic approach to curbing teenage sexuality. These critics maintain that many teens will end up breaking their pledge and, when they do, lack the knowledge and contraceptive devices to protect themselves against STDs and pregnancy. They also claim that SRT favors Christianity over other belief systems and thus violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution|First Amendment.
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/03344/249392.stm “Federal grant to fund message of abstinence”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette, December 10, 2003
http://www.insideout.org/documentaries/withthisring/synops.asp “With this Ring: Pledging Abstinence”, NPR/WBUR Boston “Inside Out”, 2004
http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0623/p01s03-woeu.html “US chastity crusade gets cool response in secular Britain”, Christian Science Monitor, June 24, 2004
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A48509-2005Mar18.html “Teen Pledges Barely Cut STD Rates, Study Says”, Washington Post, March 19, 2005
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/22/AR2005082201230.html “Federal Funds For Abstinence Group Withheld”, Washington Post, August 23, 2005
True Love Waits
http://silverringthing.com/ Silver Ring Thing