Mother breastfeeding in church 'without a cover' accused of 'immodesty' and 'inspiring lustfulness'
Amy Marchant says that, ever since the incident at the church, she has become conscious about breastfeeding in the public
A Brighton pastor has apologized to a woman who claimed that she was shamed for breastfeeding inside a church while waiting for her other children to finish Sunday school. Amy Marchant stated that she was accused of immodesty and potentially inspiring “lustfulness” in men for nursing her child at The Naz Church in Brighton in mid-June. “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,” she said.
However, Ben Walls, Sr., lead pastor, says he encourages breastfeeding. He also added that the church has three different places that allow a breastfeeding mother to feed her child in privacy.
As reported by Livingston Daily, Ben noted that there is a lounge outside of the restroom for nursing mothers and two other rooms in a children’s area “designated for ladies who want privacy.” “That is what we want to say — we have nothing against breastfeeding and we are in favor,” he said. “It’s very hard because we understand that she was very hurt and we apologize to her. 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.”
Amy recalled that the incident took place when she had gone to the children’s worship area to pick up her four-year-old twins. While waiting, her one-year-old daughter “was getting fussy and asking to be nursed. "I sat down on a bench and decided to nurse her like always," she said. “I don’t use a cover.”
Ben added that he was told by the staff members that Amy was wearing a dress and, while feeding the child, she had pulled down her dress, exposing both her breasts.
Amy wasn't told anything at the church. After coming back home with her children, she found a Facebook message which was written by a woman who is a church leader. “She said that ‘nursing fully exposed,’ the term she used, was making people uncomfortable,” Amy said. “She told me to cover up, use an empty classroom, or go down to the main worship area, to part of the bathroom which has a nursing area attached to it. It wasn’t presented as an option. She told me to do one of those three things from now on.”
Amy stated that she was shocked to receive a message like that, especially a place such as a church where she expects to "feel safe". The next day, Amy responded to the mail by saying she was sorry that she made people uncomfortable but could not be held responsible for how other people feel. “Even if I wanted to go somewhere private, that’s not reasonable when I have to watch my four-year-old twins and, legally speaking, it’s not something she is required to ask,” she said.
Amy said that the incident has left her feeling self-conscious about breastfeeding in public. “A lot of people have stopped nursing because of stuff like that and I want to say something because a lot of people wouldn’t,” she said.
She added that she decided to meet Ben to express how she felt shamed. "I was told it was immodest, that (breastfeeding) can cause men to lust and stumble,” she said. "They said, as long as they provided places for women to nurse, they didn’t have to allow them to nurse anywhere.”
The church has since apologized to Amy and, even though she does not plan to sue them, she said that she won't be returning there.