Mother gets apology from pastor after rebuke for breastfeeding inside her own church
Source: USA Today
Amy Marchant nurses her daughter Autumn, 1, at home in Brighton.
Susan Bromley/Livingston Daily
A pastor has apologized to a woman who said she was shamed for breastfeeding inside her church while waiting for her other children to finish Sunday school.
Amy Marchant, 29, of Brighton said she asked for a public apology after she was accused of immodesty and potentially inspiring “lustfulness” in men for nursing her child in mid-June at The Naz church here.
“Of all the places, it is most hurtful when it comes from your own church, that you are going to cause guys to lust after you,” Marchant said Thursday.
The church supports and encourages breastfeeding, said Ben Walls Sr., lead pastor of the church more formally known as Brighton Nazarene Church. The Father’s Day incident “had to do with breastfeeding but didn’t.”
Three places are set aside for “those who want a private space” — a lounge outside of a restroom specifically created for nursing mothers a decade ago and two other rooms in a children’s area “designated for ladies who want privacy,” he said.
“That is what we want to say. We have nothing against breastfeeding, and we are in favor,” Walls said.
“We’re very sorry for the embarrassment and hurt caused when she was asked to cover or use one of those rooms. We apologize for her hurt and embarrassment; that wasn’t the intention.”
Marchant and Walls are in basic agreement about occurred after the June 17 church services although Walls originally was not involved.
Marchant said she had gone to the children’s worship area to pick up her 4-year-old twins when her 1-year-old daughter “was getting fussy and asking to nurse.”
“I sat down on a bench and decided to nurse her like always,” Marchant said. “I don’t use a cover.”
Walls said church staff members told him that Marchant was wearing a dress pulled down with both of her breasts exposed.
Nothing was said to her at church. But when Marchant got home, she said she had a private Facebook message from a woman who is a church leader.
“She said that ‘nursing fully exposed,’ the term she used, was making people uncomfortable,” Marchant said. “She told me to cover up, use an empty classroom, or go down to the main worship area, to part of the bathroom but which has a nursing area attached to it.
"It wasn’t presented as an option," Marchant said. "She told me to do one of those three things from now on.”
Marchant said she was shocked that shaming women who are breastfeeding still happens anywhere, especially in her own church, where she was “supposed to feel safe.”
She waited a day to respond and said she then let the woman know she was sorry people felt uncomfortable and that she couldn’t be responsible for their feelings.
“Even if I wanted to go somewhere private, that’s not reasonable when I have to watch my 4-year-old twins.
And legally speaking, it’s not something she is allowed to ask,” Marchant said.
Marchant then asked to meet with church leaders to discuss the issue and the Breastfeeding Anti-Discrimination Act, which Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law in 2014.