I got a call this morning from my church saying that they had received complaints about me breastfeeding, and I had to go to the nursery or the bathroom's handicap stall.
I'm so upset and would hate to change churches. I sent this to my pastor and am waiting a response:
Um... that was too nice.
Wow - it's so unfortunate that your church has asked you to stopped feeding your child. I think you letter was very well-written. I hope it settles the matter for you - but if it doesn't, you should absolutely switch to a new congregation.
Sigh. I'm not sure what to do. There's another church that is similar to the style I like, but it's so far away. Here's the response:
The reason you were contacted is because I have received several complaints over the last couple of weeks concerning you breastfeeding in the sanctuary. I understand your feelings and you certainly have a right to hold your own opinion regarding the appropriateness of breastfeeding locations. However, as a Christian, you should also be sensitive to the feelings of others regarding such a sensitive subject. The complaints have come from a number of people who are in no way related ... So this is obviously a situation that is offensive to a number of people. Also, in the 10 year history of Heartland, we have never had and issue with the many breastfeeding moms who have come to the church. You are the only one we have ever had an issue with regarding this. The Christian way to handle this is for you to think of others ahead of yourself and to simply move to a private location to feed or to possibly use a breast pump and bring a bottle to feed with. As you know, my own daughter has an infant that she is also breast feeding right now ... But she will not be doing so in the sanctuary because she understands that even though it is a natural act and something she has a right to do, she understands if would be offensive to some ... So she’s taking the high road.
Brittany, you may be angry with me, but sometimes you need to hear when you’re wrong about your attitude and the way you are approaching something. You are not handling this situation with a Christian attitude. Your tone and the fact you even mentioned a civil rights complaint demonstrates that you are more interested in making a point than considering the feelings and concerns of others. The fact that you’ve chosen to “make your point” on Facebook demonstrates this even further.
I will not send anyone a copy of state law regarding this issue. The fact that you even suggested that demonstrates once again the wrong attitude and approach to this situation.
Your statement that “ I can try better to cover her, but I won't be subject to discrimination” is once again a demonstration of the wrong attitude and a veiled threat to Heartland. I want you to know I don’t appreciate it.
With all of this said, here is where we are: We support your decision to breastfeed. Matter of fact we think it’s fantastic and the best thing in the world for your baby. I’m happy my daughter has made the decision to do the same for my grandson. We encourage you to breastfeed and we have a location set aside in our nursery where you can do so discreetly and so as not to offend others who don’t share your opinion as to the appropriateness of doing so.
You are not being asked to leave Heartland. We are simply asking that you be considerate of others feelings and handle this in a God honoring way.
Just so I am clear ... I do not want anymore breastfeeding in the Sanctuary. Please use the nursery.
Using that is not very "christian" of you should send you into a guilt ridden spiral. You shall now go and apologize for your inability to fit the christian mold she has decided you should fit into... get on it!
Honestly there is not much you can do. I would however understand their defensiveness over the civil rights statement... though it did give me a good giggle. I'm sorry you're going through this though. It's not fair they should be your family. And that being said. What do you plan on doing now? And how did she know about your FB?
I guess some people would think I'm being too nice with this response, but I'm the type who gets upset and sad rather than angry. I've been crying all day. Here's my response to his response:
I will comply with your request, Pastor Ed, because I think you're a great pastor, and I really respect you. I'm sorry you felt like I was threatening Heartland. I was trying to say that I DIDN'T want to make any kind of trouble, and I guess in trying to say that it came across the wrong way. I DON'T want to do anything to hinder God's work was the point I was trying to make. I'm not really angry with you; I'm angry and upset at these people who have made me feel like I'm a pervert, that I'm doing something unholy and unnatural. I don't know as a man if you can fully understand, but it's the first time I've been made to feel embarrassed and ashamed about it. I don't want to disappoint you. For now I will just stay with her in the nursery until she is big enough to eat some solids. I don't have a problem nursing in the nursery; I just want to be able to hear your message! Is it possible for there to be some kind of intercom hookup?
Wow. I'm sorry - you HAVE to switch churches! The "unChristian" attitudes are coming from those that are complaining about you feeding your child, not you!
If I were you, I'd not only switch churches, but I would file a civil rights complaint.
Wow, I haven't posted here in years, but your pastor is talking to you like you are trash. He certainly didn't take the "Christian approach" by being considerate of your feelings. I would walk out of that church and never look back. I really feel for you. The fact that you have been crying all day tells me you are not in the right church. The church response is just very strange.
And I love how he tells you you need to hear when you're wrong. So patronizing. This does not sound like a man who can be reasoned with.
He's not being very Christian, IMO. I breastfed my baby, in Mass, sitting in the front row, every day but Saturdays for nearly 6 months. Not a peep from my clergy. Later on I found out there had been complaints-which is when our priest purchased a painting of the Blessed Virgin nursing the infant Jesus and placed it in the front hall.
Seriously, I wouldn't want to attend a church where it's acceptable for the pastor to mandate where an infant can be fed. Period. And the way he's talking to you makes me even more irritated.
Yes! This! I would be sure to mention this.
You should tell them that, if it is unChristian of you to not respect others in that regard, the same could be said for them; not only are they respecting your legal right, but they are not respecting your BABY'S rights and needs - the right and need to be breastfed as your baby needs, whenever and wherever.
I would also reiterate the law. That it is a LAW - and it is unChristian to disregard the law (I mean, I assume so - I'm not Christian lol).
I would also make a point on the bottle thing. Not all babies can be bottle fed (my son developed severe nipple preference and more bottles would have ended our breastfeeding relationship, and my daughter has oral issues that prevent her from being able to latch onto a bottle at all), and not all women can pump enough. Nor should they ever have to simply because someone has a skewed view of something that God created for all babies.
If God created breasts for breastfeeding but wanted them covered up, we would have been born with hoods over our breasts.
You should not have to defend your actions the way you have. Your pastor should have defended you to the members who complained, instead he did just the opposite.
I do feel that you should contact the Florida State Breastfeeding Coalition that you linked to. You should not have to expend your energy and be in this alone, you need your time and energy directed to caring for your baby and to taking care of yourself.
Wow. I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. I think you tried to handle the situation very gracefully, but that respect wasn't returned. Obviously you have to make the decision that's best for you and your family, but I have to point out that continuing to attend this church and following this pastor's edicts is teaching your children something about the value of breastfeeding, the value of mothers, and the value of infants, and it may not be the lesson you want them to learn.
You could provide him with further information about the reasons why pumping and bottlefeeding is not an acceptable suggestion, but he sounds like his mind is made up and he isn't open to hearing or receiving any wisdom you can impart. If his daughter has no issues with nursing her child secretly, then no other reasonable person could, right? Never mind that some women have fought like crazy to nurse their babies and struggle with supply, pumping, covering uncooperative babies. Those women are clearly not as worthy of receiving the teaching and love of Christ as a handful of perverts who get distracted and horny when they see a woman nursing her child. I know I'm ranting a bit, but I get furious when my faith is used as a misguided justification for hurting children and their mamas.
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Wow, I probably shouldn't even reply, because I'm so, so angry on your behalf right now.
Your pastor doesn't even deserve title. Not only did he not support you, he's actively manipulating you and using he position to pressure you to give up your rights. His use of shaming tactics is frankly disgusting. I don't know how he can possibly claim to be a Christian when he is so lacking in compassion and honour. It also makes me wonder if anyone has actually complained or he's just making it up, to cover his own prejudice? Obviously his idea of 'supporting breastfeeding' does not include supporting the rights of mothers to actually breastfeed.
Honestly, I understand you need to balance your desire to remain part of this congregation with your desire to feed your baby, but I wish you would consider finding a church that treats its members with respect. I also think for the sake of yourself and for other nursing members, you should report them to the human rights commision, or whoever it is who is in charge of this type of thing in your state. mama, it makes me so sad that you're being put through this by someone who should be your support.
Um... wow. I am so sorry this is how you are being treated.
I cannot imagine being told this. It outraged me to read his reply. I had to google "breastfeeding in the bible" and this is what I found.
Hugs to you. I would not go to the nursery. Absolutely not.
Wow. What a mean spirited response. I don't know how you could have respect for him after hearing the condescending way he speaks to his members. :-( That puts you in such a hard place. While leaving makes sense from the standpoint of not being able to respect/learn from someone who has much more spiritual evolving to do... it seems awful to let him bully you out of the church also if you left, without the other members knowing the attitude he revealed to you.
Obviously you have to make the decision that's best for you and your family, but I have to point out that continuing to attend this church and following this pastor's edicts is teaching your children something about the value of breastfeeding, the value of mothers, and the value of infants, and it may not be the lesson you want them to learn.
This. :) I would only add to this statement the value of women.
Thank you for all the replies. It's nice just to have the support, to have someone on my side. If it were a business, I would be angry and would consider action, but it's my church, and I'm just hurt. I don't see how I can feel happy there again, so we will be church shopping. Unfortunately, I really like our new children's ministry director.
I'm not religious, so I don't attend church regularly, however a couple years ago I went to a funeral at a Catholic church. I had my 3 month old baby with me and, unsure of the protocol, I asked the guy who let us in (we arrived a bit early). He told me to feel free to feed my daughter anywhere I wanted. Also said something along the lines of seeing me nursing my child would only please God.
Even if you do end up finding a different church, I would probably file a complaint. They need to know that this is not acceptable, not just in your situation, but for any other (future) nursing mother.
wow, that is so sad :( I'm so sorry you were treated that way and I totally disagree with your pastor's attitude .. he truly doesn't understand ...
I didn't read what everyone else wrote, to be honest. I just have to say that I think you wrote a nice letter which was not threatening and his response to you is completely inappropriate. Switch churches. You need to go somewhere where you will not be exiled... even if to the nursery. I've seen this before... he is calling you unChristian for being unwilling to see HIS point, but he in no way acknowledges yours... tells you to be "good" like his wonderful daughter. AGH!
Also would like to comment that I too have had no problems at the Catholic Church I attend... I do cover with a blanket, but people actually smile at me, women behind me have helped hold the blanket when I'm struggling and I also know women who nurse completely without blankets (still discreetly, I can't manage this) and they have not been given a hard time to my knowledge.
Seriously what is he going to do? Stop the service and kick you out of church? I don't know, I'd almost go back and nurse discreetly. But then again that's me.
I'm sorry your pastor has been so disrespectful and manipulative. I hope you can find a congregation where you are truly welcomed.