Stake President Denies Temple Recommend to Nursing Mother

 

A young Mormon mother has been denied a temple recommend by her Stake President for breastfeeding her child in public without a cover.

The Bishop of her ward called her in and gently explained that members of the ward had complained to him about her breastfeeding at church without a cover. The ward members assumed that seeing her exposed breast was making it difficult for the young men and the recovering porn addicts to avoid impure thoughts.  The Bishop asked the woman to either cover up or nurse in the mother’s room.  When she informed her Bishop that she wouldn’t be changing her views or behaviors about nursing on-demand and uncovered, she thought the issue was over.

The woman, her nursing baby, her three older children and her husband all participate in Sacrament meeting services from the foyer. The breastfeeding takes place while seated in chairs in the foyer. This sister is most comfortable in the foyer because she can still hear the meeting and participate in the ordinance of the sacrament while staying outside with her active children to avoid disrupting the meeting. The mother’s room in her ward building is accessed through the women’s bathroom, making it difficult for her husband to accompany her, and is too small to accommodate her other children who follow her there, nor are the sacrament trays brought in to any mothers while there.

Three weeks later she and her husband were called into her Stake President’s office and they both took along their Temple recommend paperwork to be signed.  As part of the interview, the SP brought up her public breastfeeding. He quoted from the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet, told her “It’s a modesty issue” and blamed her for the men and boys having impure thoughts. When she pressed him for specifics about breastfeeding being included in the FTSOY pamphlet, which it is not, he maintained his position that she should be covered or in the mother’s room.  When the sister insisted that “this isn’t my problem,” he rebutted, “It is your problem. And if you do it again, we’re going to kick you out of the building.”

When she again resisted his biased opinion and disagreed with the way he was sexualizing breastfeeding, he firmly said that by not sustaining her leaders and following his direction to cover while nursing, she was not eligible to have a temple recommend. When she told the Stake President that she’d be doing what she could to find out from a higher authority about the uncovered nursing, the SP taunted, “Go ahead. I’ve already called Salt Lake. They agree it’s a modesty issue.”

The woman excused herself from the room, at which time the Stake President informed her husband that if he supported his wife, he too would be denied a recommend, but that if he supported his religion, he could receive his recommend. The Stake President further advised him to  “Control your wife. You are the patriarch of the family. You tell her how she is allowed to breastfeed.”

The woman’s husband defended his wife, stood by her choices and stated, “She’s her own person. I don’t control her.”

The family hasn’t been to church for the past several weeks because of feeling unwelcome.  The woman grieves the loss of her temple recommend, and believes that without a recommend, her “spiritual well-being is at stake.”  She struggles with feelings of depression and has lingering health issues.  She wishes for a resolution with the ward members, bishop and stake president that is a peaceful reconciliation where she may continue to nurse uncovered in the foyer, as she has been doing.

Part of her story has also been posted here.

Among nursing Mormon women, this issue is not new.  Laws in most US states permit women to breastfeed, covered or uncovered, in any place where they are legally allowed to be, and cannot be asked to leave or cover. There is some confusion as to whether this same right is extended to private church property. If a Mormon church is allowed to discriminate against a nursing mother for breastfeeding without a cover, (on private church property), is it the local leader who may enforce such discrimination? Mormon women from all over the world report that they nurse uncovered in plain view in their ward buildings without issue.  Without a direct policy from church HQ, a mandate not to nurse in plain view would be at the discretion of a local leader.

As stated in the above 2013 SLTribune article, the LDS church has not articulated a church-wide policy or statement about breastfeeding while on church property. Without a policy given at the general level, these types of stories will continue to occur.   Imagine an investigator, new convert, or visitor attends a ward where openly breastfeeding is forbidden. How would they communicate that the rules of the ward building are different from the laws of that state without the woman feeling unwelcome?

While some mothers and babies can easily nurse under a cover and prefer to do so, there are a number of reasons why this doesn’t work for some mothers, including a baby who thrashes around wildly if their face is covered or the blanket cover makes mom and baby overheated and uncomfortable. Regardless, the choice for a mother to cover or not cover should not be made by an unrelated man.

By contrast, Pope Francis has stated publicly that mothers may nurse openly during services at the Sistine Chapel, which would logically extend to other Catholic congregations worldwide.

Inherent in this story are several harmful dynamics at play simultaneously:

  • Hyper-sexualization of female breasts. In this story, the Stake president, Bishop and ward members all participated in the sexualization of breastfeeding and the objectifying of this sister’s breasts. While breasts can be part of the sexual experience of men and women, reducing their purpose to titillation or arousal obscures their primary purpose of providing milk to babies. A woman who uses her breasts to feed a child is literally filling the measure of their creation. Countless works of art hanging in church buildings around the world depict women breastfeeding.  If the members of the ward are sensitive to the young men and recovering porn addicts, what better way for them to observe what breasts are best at doing than by noticing a mother nurse her baby?
  • Perpetuation of rape culture. Telling a woman that she is responsible for the sexual responses of men is an example of rape culture. Telling a lactating adult woman that she is not abiding by the clothing and dress standards set for teenage girls is an example of rape culture. The 2ndarticle of faith clearly states that “men are responsible for their own sins.”  Blaming women for the inappropriate sexual responses of men is not only unfair, it’s not doctrinal.
  • Prioritizing the male sexual gaze and comfort over the comfort and convenience of mother and baby. Perhaps the ward should provide blankets for the young men and recovering porn addicts to put over their heads so they can avoid looking at the nursing mothers in their wards? If a woman attends church and wishes to participate in the ordinances and classes, and is most comfortable to nurse where she is, every accommodation should be made so she can be included without stigma. 
  • Perpetuation of Polygamy Culture – Possession Fallacy and Women as Reward FallacySeeing a woman as a sexual object to be possessed or controlled is a by-product of the lingering polygamy culture in the church today.
  • Promoting disunity in marriage partnerships. By pressuring the husband to choose between supporting his wife or acquiescing to the stake president’s demands, the Stake President positions the husband as the one who can control his wife, bring her back in line with what male priesthood authorities are requiring of her, or risk his own standing in the church.
  • Unrighteous Dominion. Both the Bishop and Stake President overstepped their stewardships in dictating to this woman the acceptable way for her to mother her children. Beyond that, the Stake President exercised unrighteous dominion by conflating the couple’s temple worthiness with their obedience to his biased and non-doctrinal opinion. This is an example of ecclesiastical abuse.

One cure to this misguided impression of public breastfeeding is found in the words of Isaiah, where Jesus himself is likened unto a nursing mother: “But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not.  For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”

If all members of the church could see breastfeeding mothers as a type of Christ, women could comfortably nurse anywhere they are without fear of judgment. Church leaders often remark that the calling of motherhood is holy, akin to men exercising the priesthood. It’s hypocrisy for a male church leader to condemn a righteous mother for mothering in the best way for her and the baby. By their own logic, if women have motherhood and men have priesthood, shouldn’t those domains be separate and individual? Would a woman ever be allowed to dictate to a man how to use his priesthood?

In order to prevent future overreaches of institutional power that negatively affect mothers and babies, we need a church-wide statement of support for nursing mothers. We need to remove the barriers and difficulties placed upon women for how they mother their children and we need to make it easier to be a woman in this church. We need our women-leaders in the General Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary to advocate for the nursing mothers of the church and encourage an official statement of support from the church spokespeople.

Please write to the female General authorities and ask for their active support for the nursing mothers of the church. Many mothers already nurse publicly in church without repercussion. Without an official statement, women will remain at risk for judgment and exclusion if their chosen way of nurturing their babies doesn’t align with the preferences of a local priesthood authority.

You may send your letter of support and encouragement for such a statement to the female general authorities:  President Jean Bingham, Sister Sharon Eubank, Sister Reyna Aburto, President Bonnie Cordon, Sister Michelle Craig, Sister Becky Craven, President Joy Jones, Sister Lisa Harkness or Sister Cristina Franco

to this address

Their Name

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

50 East North Temple

Salt Lake City, UT 84150

ETA: Address for the RS building where the women’s offices are held is 76 North Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150.

THIS ADDENDUM WAS PUBLISHED JULY 24, 2018. 

https://www.the-exponent.com/addendum-7-24-18-stake-president-denies-temple-recommend-to-nursing-mother/

Violadiva

Violadiva is an oxymoron, a musician, a yogi, a Suzuki violin teacher, a late-night baker of sourdough breads, proud Mormon feminist, happy wife of Pianoman and lucky mother to three.

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167 Responses

  1. Nancy Ross says:

    Thank you for this, Violadiva. Women are not responsible for men’s thoughts. We just aren’t. And then to punish a woman for feeding her baby uncovered in church? I don’t even know what to say, but I’m pretty sure that Jesus would tell these men to pluck out their eyes before asking this woman to leave the building for feeding her baby uncovered.

    • John Tolman says:

      It Should be a non-issue. It is very simple for the mother to use a light cover when breast-feeding. This lady was just being stubborn when she could have resolvedthe issue very quickly and easily. We should always choose our fights. This one is not worth fighting over.

      • Violadiva says:

        John, The only thing correct about your comment is the first sentence. Statements that project blame onto the victim are not appropriate. And it is always a worthy endeavor for a woman to fight for her own rights.

      • Paradise says:

        Covers, even light ones have been proven to cause brain damage.

      • Cheltzey says:

        I just returned from a week of young women’s camp with my nursing three month old. Even with an extremely light cover, my baby was drenched in sweat every time I tried to feed her and it was making her super fussy and lethargic. How about you cover yourself with a blanket the next time you eat in public…

      • Amanda says:

        Is it really that simple? Have you tried it? My baby won’t eat if I try to cover her and I’m not going to just not feed her. It’s that kind of attitude, putting it on the woman, that make me stay home from church most weeks.

      • Rachael says:

        John, thank you for mansplaining how easy it is for all mothers to nurse with a cover. Tell me again: how many babies did you nurse and how did you get them to not squirm and push the cover off in the sweltering heat? We need some more of your special wisdom.

  2. ElleK says:

    This is perfectly written–you have a way of explaining things in a simple and straightforward way. I hope this will help spark change.

  3. Nicki Nye says:

    Thank you for standing up for what’s right and helping make a change 🙌🏻
    Curious how those men would feel with Mary feeding Jesus in their local church building😏

  4. Melody says:

    Violadiva – This is among the very best essays from Ex II. Thank you for taking time to identify and articulate pivotal concepts. You’ve clarified and underscore the reasons for my rage about this situation. It’s time for an official statement from the Church. And it’s time for women LDS leaders to firmly and wholeheartedly support their nursing-mother sisters. Thanks again. Great work!

  5. Caroline says:

    Fantastic points, violadiva. It’s maddening to hear about this woman being treated in this way.

  6. Meaghan says:

    I often nurse my baby in the mothers room, but the air conditioning doesn’t work in that room. All the babies get super sweaty. One of the buildings I went to didn’t even have a mother’s room. I didnt have children at that time, so I’m not sure what a lot of moms would do. A lot of them used the primary room during sacrament meeting. Many times women in mothers rooms are still completely covered up. I don’t mind, I just hope they don’t mind when I don’t cover up all the way. I would like to see a sourse for this story. If I shared this with my husband, that’s going to be the first thing he asks for.

    • Violadiva says:

      She shared the story with me personally, and posted about it in a FB group, but has asked to be anonymous online as it is yet unresolved in her home ward. It is an unfolding, ongoing situation for her.
      Though it did happen to her personally, it could happen to any woman until the church has a clear stance about it.

    • Amanda says:

      When I do go in the mother’s room, I don’t cover up, and several women have left as soon as I started nursing my baby. It makes me so sad and mad.

      • Shanna Jane says:

        Now that is ridiculous! You are in the mothers room for heavens sake!

      • Lisa Sully says:

        Yeh I’ve seen women here in USA cover up in front of other women , they won’t even feed in relief society …it’s weird .
        I been to most other continents and never seen other than here ( Canada is chilled they don’t care about breastfeeding in public )

  7. Mike H. says:

    “Control your wife.” I’ve heard that before, on a different subject, from a Bishop. When does this become unrighteous dominion by me, the husband?

    There’s too much sexualization of breast feeding.

    • paws says:

      It is always unrighteous to try to control others.

      • Amen. Spouses are equals. Just because a Bishop or Stake President says something, doesn’t make it doctrine, or even policy. They are humans and can make mistakes. I personally know of a former Bishop and then mission president that was a pedophile and child abuser. Their status in the church doesn’t make them impervious to giving flawed counsel. Thank goodness for the Atonement and the opportunity to change and be forgiven when we are wrong.

        Also, either spouse trying to control the other is abuse, plain and simple. Counsel together? Sure. Control? Big nope. That’s taking away someone’s agency and is of the devil.

  8. Chiaroscuro says:

    Thank you for this timely piece Violadiva. I am deeply troubled that a bishop has chosen this issue to assert his dominance. I breastfed several of my children both covered and uncovered at church and never heard a word of complaint from anyone. I am troubled that a bishop has chosen to discipline a woman for doing this. I am even more troubled that a fellow sister in the ward complained to the bishop about anyone breastfeeding a baby at church. it feels particularly insidious for a woman to try to get another woman in trouble with the patriarchy for ‘fulfilling the measure of her creation’ as a woman.

  9. rlcpd says:

    The very fact that women in the Mothers’ Room are denied the sacrament reveals the substantial degradation of women for which the LDS Church is known. Her bishop is as biased as they come.
    However, I question why mom’s nursing in a public setting do not use a simple, lightweight
    cover. Being adamant about one’s own rights can prevent others from realizing their own. There are a great many men, perhaps older ones, who just plain feel uncomfortable to have those bare breasts shown in public…irregardless of the reason. There are women who feel the same. Unless a child has grown up in a breast-feeding home, they, also, feel uncomfortable. They want to look but feel they should not…an emotional conflict that could and should be prevented. But the hostile manner of the bishop worsened the situation. … holding back a TR because of something like this? …proves that the TR is not of God and neither is the bishop.

    • Em says:

      Thanks for this. I’ve gone months at a time without the sacrament because I was in the mother’s room. I’ve asked that we call a young woman to stand outside the room to bring in the sacrament as part of Pres. Oscarson’s call to use the YW and give them responsibility. Nothing.

    • Miriam says:

      My kids wouldn’t eat very well under a cover. Can’t blame them as i do not like eating with a blanket covering my head either.

    • JM says:

      Where do you draw the line with how much you have to accommodate other people’s (and men’s) feelings of discomfort by changing your own behavior? When I was little I felt uncomfortable around people who drank herbal tea because we never drank it in my family and I didn’t understand the distinction between that and “real” tea that’s “against the word of wisdom”. (Should everyone around me have just stopped enjoying their herbal tea so I didn’t feel awkward?) Men in certain cultures might feel uncomfortable around women with their hair showing. (Should we all just wear hair coverings just in case?!) Kids can easily feel uncomfortable around a person with a visible disability and “want to look but feel like they should not.” (Are we just going to tell people with disabilities not to go out in public?) None of these are okay reasons to tell someone they need to change their behavior.

      Either breastfeeding is okay, or it isn’t. If it’s okay (WHICH IT IS), it shouldn’t matter if some people feel uncomfortable about it or not. And the more that women bend over backward to make sure men or children or other women who aren’t used to seeing breastfeeding happen don’t have to ever see it or be made “uncomfortable” by it, the longer it’s going to take for people and society to accept it as a normal thing and stop being weird and gross about it.

    • Virginia Burnett says:

      My daughter refused to breastfeed while covered after about 6 weeks. As soon as sge figured out how to toss her blanket aside, that’s what she would do. She still doesn’t like having her face covered by anything!
      I feel like more women should breastfeed in public to normalize the behavior for our sexually confused society. This should never be an issue for any mom!

    • Jeanne says:

      This is precisely why breasts performing their God given function must be seen by the public of all ages. Discomfort at the site of it is a perversion that was never intended by our creator. Read your Bible and see the glowing terms breastfeeding is repeatedly referred to throughout the scriptures. Pornography and formula profiteers are the evil here, and it’s reverberating effects must not continue to harm the family. Hiding nursing harms our society!

    • cdmikesell says:

      I have 2 children on the autism spectrum. They could not tolerate being covered and would not nurse if covered at all. I’m certain that this mother was like all mother’s in her divine role of motherhood and meeting her child’s needs. Who are we to question and dictate that she should modify how she does so. She is right, this is not her problem. Men and boys are so much more capable than we give them credit for. They are responsible for their own thoughts. This is not a modesty issue at all.

  10. Sam Brunson says:

    “I question why mom’s nursing in a public setting do not use a simple, lightweight cover.”

    I don’t have any first-hand experience with this, but my wife assures me that not every baby is willing to nurse under a cloth, lightweight or not.

    Look, if we think families and children are important, we need to make things convenient for families, including mothers and children. US society has moved admirably on the acceptance of public breastfeeding, as have wards I’ve been in. It’s absurd that anyone would object, much less threaten ostracization from the religious community.

    • AmeliaChristensen says:

      Well said, Sam.

    • Jeanne says:

      Sam, it’s over 100 degrees here nearly every day. It’s quite literally child abuse to cover their heads with anything. Even air conditioning can only cool to 20 degrees below the air, so indoors with the air blasting, it’s still above 80. Plus, baby’s body temp increases naturally when they nurse.

  11. Emma says:

    What lengths will we go to in creating “safe” environments where no man or YW will ever risk unworthiness? We are so afraid of losing male leadership and male missionaries that we will go to any length, including denying a woman her temple recommend, to ensure that a man can keep his. The unfortunate result is a young man who is triggered by just about anything because he has not been trained to exercise control. Ironically, modesty culture and its associated trappings have produced young men who are at greater risk of porn addiction.

  12. Kristine A says:

    I don’t nurse my twins anymore, I only was able to for the first few months while they were young and we were home from church during flu season; but feeding my two boys is like wrestling baby alligators even w bottles. There’s no way they’d stay under covers. This is beyond ridiculous.

    And my preferred solution is to make recommends dependent only of worthiness questions and remove the clause abt “obeying local leaders.” So ripe for abuse. But yes absent that we need a policy.

  13. Maddie says:

    You fail to mention that she is nursing with both breasts hanging out. It’s not a matter of just nursing without a cover.

    • Violadiva says:

      That is factually inaccurate, and this type of victim-blaming comment will not be allowed on this thread.

      But arguing the degrees of coverage is pointless. It’s either allowed and encouraged, or it isn’t. The minute we start making conditions (“only women who are a C cup or smaller who can pull their shirt down so we can’t see anything are allowed to nurse uncovered” for example) only makes the objectification worse.

      • Erszi says:

        Even a DDD as I was or E I had no problem keeping my other breast covered. My child did not eat under cover either. I pulled my top as close to his face as possible but at times some flesh would show, “maybe an inch in a pinch”, Most moms are discreet and for this Bishop or SP to give in to the biased majority isnt just wrong but sad also.
        I can only imagine the Savior breaking Bread and Fish at the gathering and think to myself,…WWJD…what would Jesus do?
        Would He refuse her sitting there feeding her child ?
        I highly doubt it.
        To objectify a nursing mother, then to punish her without merit and to add insult to injury Demanding the husband to “control your wife”? AND then going even further to deny even the husband his TR?
        Lord have mercy on both leaders.
        I sincerely hope this will be brought to our church Presidency for prayerful consideration.
        For members or leaders to presume that boys or grown up man or any porn addicted brethren be “tempted or aroused ” by a nursing mother, YOU’VE got to be very ILL MANNERED individuals to even think these are any kind of the same or similar as porn.
        That just struck a cord within me as much as any Male thinking when a women/girls nipple is erected that she is ready to be mounted, how much more can one objectify any female is beyond me. This sure tops the cake.

        Every human being, Male or Female are responsible for their own thoughts alone NO MATTER WHAT he or she sees.

        It could even be worse if one would have a lesbian/gay in church saying “she is being aroused by a breast feeding mother”, my gosh where and when will this stop.
        I’m truly astonished and out of words on this one.

    • Kay Summers says:

      I didn’t read that in the article. Just exactly do you know that. Were you there and can tell us more about the situation?

    • Martie says:

      Would like to know the source as well but I would agree that if both breasts are uncovered that is not appropriate. If a child being potty-trained runs around the house naked that’s fine, The same naked child at Walmart or Target is not. Who wants to clean up after her?

      • All Heart says:

        Please be careful how you argue: it’s never appropriate or accurate to compare breastfeeding to toileting.

  14. MrShorty says:

    RLCPD said: “They want to look but feel they should not…an emotional conflict that could and should be prevented. ” A question — to what extent can and should this conflict be avoided? If it isn’t a nursing mother, it is a woman wearing a low cut blouse, or going to the swimming pool/beach, or any of the other ways that we encounter women in everyday encounters and get reminded that they have breasts. It often seems to me that we would be better served as boys and men to face this discomfort head on rather than try to prevent and avoid it. Yes, women have breasts. Yes, we as (heterosexual) men are curious about and attracted to breasts. Yes, it is inappropriate to ogle. Facing head on the conflict between “I am curious about and attracted to women’s breasts” and “I should not look when a woman is nursing” seems better than constantly avoiding the conflict.

  15. Ziff says:

    Thanks so much for bringing attention to this story and highlighting the many issues it brings up, Violadiva. I think this type of response from men in leadership (or men in general, for that matter) really clarifies that most men have little use for the actual work that women do in mothering their children. They/we only talk about it in such glowing terms to try to get women to shut up about wanting any actual power or decision-making authority. But when the rubber meets the road, women’s “highest and holiest calling” shouldn’t be heard from or seen.

  16. If someone is aroused by the sight of breastfeeding, something is very, very wrong with him (or her). I can’t believe that even has to be said.

    • Mike says:

      It’s not very charitable to take this opportunity to publicly shame people who may find breastfeeding arousing. All people have different erotic palates, and may become aroused over things that may feel entirely foreign to others. Some of these things are always hidden in public, while others are commonly exposed. For example, some people like big butts (clothed or not), while others like feet. Cleavage may be highly enticing to some, while exposed necks may arouse others.

      More importantly, though, the point is that all people are responsible for THEIR OWN responses, even if there is some external stimuli that we may find alluring. Just as we don’t require people to cover their feet in church because someone with a foot fetish attends the ward, we should not ostracize women who breastfeed openly because someone finds breastfeeding arousing.

      Rather, the person who is aroused should realize they (like everyone else in the world) have control over their responses, in spite of the stimulus and their arousal. The church regularly teaches many strategies to help people “avoid temptation,” including things like humming a favorite hymn, avoiding or fleeing from compromising situations, etc.

      We do not need to curtail the rights of all breastfeeding women in order to protect the fickle sensibilities of the few people who haven’t learned to appropriately control their actions in social situations.

  17. Momof5 says:

    Whether we like it or not,
    We DO live in a culture where the breast is sexualized. We do not live in Africa or other regions where it is normal to not wear a shirt. We are taught modesty in our religion and to RESPECT our bodies, that includes covering ourselves up (garments people). Yes, it is an inconvenience to cover ourselves and maybe go into a different room to feed our babies, but babies require specific circumstances. I breastfed all 5 of my kids until they were almost one with no problem covering myself in public. It’s a natural and normal thing, but it should be done discreetly. I don’t agree with everything that happened and it’s sad that this had to go this far. Stubbornness on both sides for sure. But a church is not a place to whip out your boob for all to see. Now I’m sure everyone will hate what I said, but it’s more of a culture thing, and when in Rome . . .

    • Breasts4Babes says:

      …when in Rome it is completely appropriate to bare you’re breast to feed your baby

    • Would someone with more patience please let the above poster know how racist the “noble savage” myth is?

    • Beth says:

      The church usually doesn’t agree with cultural relativism ‘when in Rome’. There are no separate rules for the area/times you live in. The gospel doesn’t have versions for where you live and no matter how uncomfortable people may be they are still putting their WANTS ahead of the NEEDS of a hungry baby. Get your compassion together.

    • Shanna Jane says:

      I agree with you 100 percent! I nursed 3 babies and I have never had a problem covering up. My husband made a good point he said that sex is a natural thing but it’s not ok to openly have sex in public. Also if I was in a mothers room I wouldn’t want someone’s husband in there, since when does a husband need to accompany a wife to nurse. This is ridiculous!

      • All Heart says:

        What Ziff said, and Shanna, why would you draw a comparison between sex and a mother feeding her child? That’s disturbing.

      • Shanna Jane says:

        All I am saying is both are natural things why is one ok and the other is not? I could list several things that are totally natural to do but are not ok to do I public like, clipping your finger nails/toe nails, using the bathroom, sex, brushing your teeth, picking a zit…..my list could go on.

    • Ziff says:

      That’s nice that your kids didn’t mind being covered. From what I understand from many different women who have breastfed, not all kids are so accommodating.

    • Momof3 says:

      Baring your breast in public, even if you can’t see the nipple, is considered immodest…do we all agree on that? So the question comes with when it’s being used to feed vs. not to feed. To many, a bare breast is a bare breast, regardless of the reason it’s being revealed.

      Personally, I used to pump enough to feed my baby if I were going to be out in public during feeding time. I realize, again, that not all babies will take a bottle and not all moms can pump, but if your baby won’t eat under a blanket and you know they’ll be hungry during Sacrament Meeting, try to arrange something. Once they’re older than six months, breastfeeding shouldn’t be an immediate need, so it’s not for a long period of time.

      We had a lady at church whose 1-year-old started having problems with his teeth, so the dentist said she should brush them after every meal. So she’d sit at the back of the chapel and nurse him THEN start an automatic toothbrush to brush his teeth. The nursing was unobtrusive, but the toothbrush was noisy.

  18. I have had the experience of recognizing the moment, while talking casually to my bishop on the phone, when he put on the mantle of his bishopric and changed the conversation from casual to offer me counsel (which I accepted). I have also sat in a bishop’s office during a difficult conversation and witnessed that bishop (figuratively) throw his bishopric mantle off his shoulders and react with the worst of what a biased and belligerent natural man can offer up. I was horrified and I was embarrassed for him.

    It seems to me that this stake president, if the story is accurate, acted as nothing but a bully. He bullied the woman, and when it didn’t go the way he wanted, he bullied the husband. Regardless of what side of the cover-up or not argument you may be on, bullying behavior by a stake leader is nothing more or less than unrighteous dominion.

  19. Beth says:

    So I read these stories in between church leadership occasionally telling the women that they are indeed valuable and needed and the priesthood is equal to motherhood. And then I wonder why women stay. This bishop does not want anything but obedience whether he’s right or wrong. Hint, hes wrong. Who shames a nursing mother? Who puts a hungry baby last in line over the comfort of people who have the ability to look away? The bishop and the sp look at this woman like garbage on the street. She can offer them nothing, spiritually, financially or otherwise. Get your wife in line? That was the giveaway. There is no spiritual reward for following orders that are wrong. Women get dumped on so much for stupid stuff like this. She’d get a better spiritual reward out of being the role model that teaches that motherhood really does have value. That she has value. Whoever picked those two morons to be in charge might have been doing the whole ‘dont speak up against the leader so I keep my blessings too’.

  20. Erika says:

    My husband said “We should make a young men’s and recovering porn addict room where they can go walk through the bathroom to the un-airconditioned room to listen to the church talks over the speaker when the moms start breastfeeding.”

  21. Sam says:

    Can we know what ward this is and all breast feeding mothers sit in the front row and breastfeed during church !! Something needs to be done about this! We are not property, we have the right to feed our babies uncovered ! Boys can control their minds ! God wouldn’t make it a way for them to eat so it can be sexualized! I’m steaming!

  22. Beth says:

    @Sam I think any ward would do really. Just start a demand for the church to take a position.

  23. Betty Jo says:

    We live in Mexico and it is very very common for a woman to breastfeed right in front of e everyone at the dinner table. It was a culture shock for us the first time it happened. So we had a conversation about it.
    My 13 year old daughter said she was “grossed out” because she never saw it before.
    My 14 year old son said he didn’t know what to do. He wanted to leave.
    My 40 year old husband said it caught him off guard. Mind you he grew up in this culture but it had been a long time since he has been state side for so long.
    I didn’t raise a brow. Kept with the convo.
    We then had a FHE about it.
    It is 100% natural
    It is a choice of the mother.
    We all need to deal.
    My husband said he didn’t know where to look. It caught him off guard. He was surprised at his own reaction. He has seen women breastfeed uncovered his whole life. Even as an adult. I told him he has been in America too long.
    We talked about feelings for teenagers on this subject. For both boys and girls. We came up with the solution they can always excuse themself. My son passes the sacrament. His advice is just pass the sacrament and move on.
    If we don’t teach our children how to respect everyones rights then this world has no hope.
    FYI. I did not breastfeed any of my children by choice. I bottlefed in church and got looks and lectures on why I should breastfeed.
    Live your life for you and not those around you. You will never make everyone happy so focus on your own happiness.

  24. Jojo says:

    I’m curious to know if the Stake president was being totally honest about calling HQ and getting a green light for calling this a modesty issue. Who in their right mind would do that..? Sigh.

  25. Daniel Bee says:

    Nothing is less sexy than seeing a woman nursing someone else’s baby.

  26. Tim says:

    The concept and question of modesty will continue to be a challenge in the church as both secular and religious definitions and standards of modesty evolve over time. Any honest person will recognize the evolving standards by comparing norms of modesty today with those 50 years ago, and 100 years ago. This is a social challenge we must embrace together; with patience and compassion for all sides. There are a multitude of beliefs and attitudes regarding modesty and we should be careful not to bully or beat the other side into our position. Tolerance and compassion are needed as we navigate this together as a diverse society. Discretion is welcome on all sides.
    My personal belief is that a nursing mother should be afforded the space/opportunity to breast feed her child without public shame or ridicule. Yet I recognize there is a wide spectrum of what is considered publicly acceptable behavior, and when a woman makes her choice, or even when a man makes his choice in dress and grooming, they too should take into consideration the sensitivities of other people. That is not to suggest she need to change her behavior.
    However, if the story as presented is true, then the Stake President did abuse his authority and my suggestion is both the mother and her husband write personal letters of complaint to SLC, and follow-up relentlessly until they are heard. It is sad that we have so little recourse for an abusive bishop or stake president. All leaders need to be held accountable. I have numerous other examples of stake presidents threatening to take away temple recommends unless a member complies with his specific requests. This is abuse of power and needs to be exposed.

    • B says:

      They DO give women a safe comfortable place to nurse… a Mother’s room.
      You can pass along this advice to your anonymous victim:

      1. It’s okay to have active kids in the chapel at sacrament meeting- it’s an opportunity to teach them how to behave in public- that’s your job as a parent. Practice.

      2. No, your family does not have to follow you into the mother’s room. Let the dad be the parent of the other kids for a bit- it’s good for him.

      3. Yes, some babies rebel at a cover. But if you know your baby well enough, you can nurse them before you come in to the meeting and they will not need to be fed again until after the sacrament has been passed. Then you can help these kids who are trying to be good and learn to master their hormones to not get an unexpected shock. It’s HARD for them too!

      4. If your bishop actually did say those things, yes, he made a mistake. But that’s a pretty big If, and I doubt it was the result of one request being denied. I hope your explorations up the chain of authority give you knowledge. But please don’t use the mob as your tool. You too, exponent.

      • Risa says:

        ^^Must be written by someone who’s never nurse a baby or used a mother’s room.

      • Beth says:

        Motherhood is equal to the Priesthood. Don’t disrespect that. Don’t put your WANTS ahead of the NEEDS of a baby.

      • Kari says:

        ^^Also must be written by someone who is not divorced. Or whose husband is not on the stand. Or in another ward giving a talk.

        Also someone who opts to believe the bishop instead of the woman. For no reason other than the story is just that absurd.

        Also someone for whom breastfeeding came easily.

        Also someone who has neurotypical kids that just require practice.

        Also someone who thinks that a mom who breastfeeds in sacrament just must not know her baby well enough.

        Also, someone who thinks that this mom needs or is looking for her advice.

        Also someone who thinks that the way to learn to master hormones is to not see anyone using a breast in the way God intended. Rather than to acknowledge that breasts are a thing, and that reducing their taboo makes moving through a world where half of the population have breasts.

        ^^This reply to to B’s comment was written by someone who is now divorced. From someone who, when her kids were babies DID have a husband on the stand. From someone who struggled significantly with breastfeeding and for whom such notion that it just should have been easier contributed to her postpartum depression. (Which depression took its toll on her marriage.) From someone with ADHD kids. From someone who understands all too well the challenges of mastering one’s hormones.

        I’m someone who gets triggered enough to respond. Because by golly, the world is a much more messy place than B’s reply implies, and I’m tired of people thinking otherwise.

      • Kari says:

        ETA: Makes moving through a world in which half the population has breasts *easier.

      • Martie says:

        Written by somone who wants to make sure they’re not identifed. “B.” How sweet. How about “B” compassionate, “B” humble in realizing your reality is not everyone’s reality. “B” doubtful of your own perfect knowledge.

  27. Susan Ethington says:

    Males becoming tantalized at the sight of a bare female breast is normal and women in or out of church should acknowledge and respect that truth. I know of some men in “the church” who call these modesty faux pas “tender mercies”. Are we planning on simply shaming men out of their sex drive? Maybe a little understanding and cooperation would go a long way to help heal those who are outraged and offended. Unless, of course, being outraged and offended is the point.

    • nrc42 says:

      As a bisexual woman, I like to look at breasts too. Guess what? I don’t ogle breastfeeding mothers. That’s on me.

  28. Jonathan says:

    I’ve seen a number of calls for charity in this thread, and mentions of how the woman cited has disregard for the difficulties of others — which is unkind regardless of the rightness or wrongness of the underlying actions. I even posted one such argument last night, talking about how Romans 14 is directly on point on this issue. After seeing these posts — which are not off topic, as they are directly relevant to the behavior or misbehavior of the Stake President — I see that they thereafter quickly get deleted by the moderator who apparently is less interested in truth than in whipping up a mob to attack the Church. I expect this post to get deleted, too, but I thought I would mention it because it is sadly obvious when you follow a thread and see every post contrary to the agitation agenda of the OP gets deleted (regardless of whether reasonable or trolling) what the moderator is doing.

    If you can’t defend your opinion, maybe you should consider changing your opinion rather than deleting all contrary opinions. If you need to silence contrary viewpoints, expressed reasonably and politely, it is a sign you know good and well you are wrong and just don’t care. In any event, this is mostly directed to the moderator to let him or her know that it is apparent what they are doing. And with, you can go ahead and delete this post too.

    • Violadiva says:

      Hi Jonathan,

      Thanks for stopping by the Exponent blog. While the majority of your previous comment was well-intentioned and appropriate, i moderated your comment because of the victim-blaming/shaming language you included. Feel free to leave the comment again, this time sans victim blaming language.
      As I previously commented upthread, victim blaming comments will not be permitted on this post.

      • Jonathan says:

        Well I cannot for the life of me, thinking back through that post, come up with where I victim blamed or shamed. In fact, I think I agreed with her on her underlying position just about across the board — nursing shouldn’t be sexualized, her body was her own, women are not walking pornography, and men are responsible for their own thoughts and actions. I just addressed the charity of focusing on being right if you ignore the potential of harm to others.

        So since I cannot identify what concerned you, I won’t reproduce it. Instead I will cull my post down to just including the scripture here (with my paraphrasing) as Paul says it more eloquently than I could anyway (“Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.”). I really would encourage everyone to read the entire chapter, as it is on point to so many of these controversies.

        Romans 14:13-15, 20-21:

        “13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

        14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

        15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy [breastfeeding], now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy [breastfeeding], for whom Christ died.

        20 For [breastfeeding] destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence.

        21 It is good neither to eat [breastfeed], nor to [dress immodestly], nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”

      • Violadiva says:

        Thank you for rephrasing your comment more carefully.

        I disagree with the way you’re conflating breastfeeding with modesty. That’s rape culture language. I disagree with the premise of how you’re using the scriptures because I do not agree that there is anything inherently immodest about breastfeeding. To claim that there is something about breastfeeding that might offend someone else is exactly the problem, and points out the thinking error in your argument.

  29. Tim says:

    Attitudes, beliefs, actions, rules, behaviors, etc. all fall along a spectrum. Much of our controversies (political, religious, social) revolve around where we land along that spectrum. For example, abortion at moment of conception vs. abortion immediately before a full-term delivery; or, with the word of wisdom, harmful substances such as heroin vs. bacon. So it is with modesty. I don’t think anyone wants to ban breastfeeding in the church. But I doubt anyone advocates for complete toplessness either. In general, women cover their breasts, and men cover theirs too. A man dressed in a bathing suit at the pool is acceptable, but not in sacrament meeting. The situation and circumstances matter. So the argument is really around whether or not breastfeeding is the situation or circumstance which permits social acceptance of bearing the uncovered breast. I doubt anyone on this thread would promote as acceptable a woman fully exposing her breast while sitting in the foyer as her two-year old child intermittently suckles while playing with a toy, here for a minute, there for a minute. It is a matter of degree, and this woman and her bishop did not agree on where to draw the line. I don’t expect those of us in this thread will agree either. I don’t think we want a detailed listing of rules and boundaries for breastfeeding either. I think discretion and tolerance on all sides can help avoid confrontations. I clearly think the bishop and stake president were flat out wrong. But I also wonder if the mother would be willing to recognize and appreciate her role, and appreciate how uncomfortable other members of her ward might have been. I am not saying she is responsible for their feelings or needs to own their comfort; but, could she take that into consideration?

    • Beth says:

      Hungry baby comes first period. People here are making it sound like breastfeeding women sit there on the front row with both breasts exposed for all of sacrament meeting while the entirety of the room is filled with men, women and children who are not only staring at the clothed breasts of all women but are struggling porn addicts who demand to be catered to at all times. The second one of them discreetly (or not) tries to breastfeed all of a sudden it ruins the fantasy for the ones enjoying the covered version and they see the real thing and the reason breasts exist. THEN they freak out. Wait a minute! That’s indecent! Can’t she cover up while doing that! I don’t want anyone to have impure thoughts while seeing this normal thing that they should probably be looking away from anyway! Oh no lets everyone share an opinion on something that half the population has no business sharing! What if I see a nipple! Then I’ll know that this woman has a nipple and a baby gets it put it in their mouth, what then? Blah blah it’s the culture, not for long, you want the La Leche League to come overrun your sacrament meeting and force your ward to see it in every pew? Keep it up, they will do it so much that it will burn the discomfort right out of you like you live in a 3rd world country. Maybe they should. Some wards need perspective it seems.

    • Vicki says:

      Her role? The church has been teaching forever that a woman’s role is to be a mother. This mother is feeding her child. People who are uncomfortable should look away, period. It should be looked on the same as any other child that age being fed, in church, which happens all the time (bottles, cheerios, whatever). Breastfeeding is feeding a child. It is not sexual.

  30. Kevin Clawson says:

    My wife and I are serving as a Mission President Couple in West Africa. Of the hundreds of times I have seen nursing mothers breastfeeding their children in the congregation during Sacrament meeting (there are no special rooms for nursing), I have only seen one time where a mother covered her breast while nursing. It is not sexualized here at all. No one pays attention. The young men passing the sacrament to the nursing mother don’t appear to notice any more than the men sitting around her. Once I had a mother start nursing her baby in the middle of a temple recommend interview with me (with no cover up). Perhaps the Africans are leading the way of example of mutual respect for the God-given nurture of breastfeeding as part of His plan for caring for the youngest and most vulnerable of His children.

    • Violadiva says:

      Such a valuable comment and helpful perspective. Thank you, President Clawson.

    • Meg says:

      Culture difference. Breasts are overly sexualized in the US. That’s also correct. Now that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to become better but you’re going to be fighting with a whole culture/society, not just a church.

      • Violadiva says:

        Meg,
        The laws of the state of Utah declare that a woman may breastfeed, covered or uncovered, in any place she is legally allowed to be. It seems in this regard that the US/Utah laws and culture may be slightly ahead of the game from the position this church leader took. My question for you: do you think the guideline for how women feed their babies within a church building should match the laws of the land in which they live? If so, then these members were out of line to demand she be covered. Or should the church have more strict guidelines imposed, regardless of the local law?

    • Lisa Sully says:

      I was a new RS Pres, many years ago now and I had just had my 6th child
      I had to attend ward council meetings
      With my new born
      I went to excuse my self to feed her but bishop said unless you are uncomfortable just stay !
      So I did ! She fed like a pig and made piggy noises , most just laughed and after she was fed once or twice one of the men held her .
      Now I was pretty good at feeding by this stage and I only lifted my shirt one side ( didn’t have both breasts hanging out ) and doubt any one saw more than the top of my breast .
      I never felt exposed or uncomfortable amongst these men .
      Again if some men find this arousing, then they may need to question their worthiness

      Best bishop ever Roxann Craig Rowberry your husband .

    • Bryan Gentry says:

      Thank you, President Clawson, for sharing this. Would you mind if I reference this comment in an article I am writing about how men can help in the cultural shift to make breastfeeding more accepted and accommodated? I love the last sentence of your comment, especially.

  31. AJPE says:

    Didn’t someone compile a group of lithographs of old church meetings and conferences that had women in the crowd nursing their babies? Long sleeved, high necked dresses open for nursing. Also, most states have laws that allow women to nurse in public places.

  32. amanda says:

    I agree that breastfeeding should be allowed. I think it is ridiculous to say this is an lds issue, it’s more specific to current US culture. Having lived and breastfed my babies in lds churches around the world, some countries have no issue with it (all priesthood leaders included)- there aren’t even “mother’s lounges”. They just don’t have any cultural bias toward sexualization of breastfeeding. And in the US, the church is not the only institution that struggles with realizing breastfeeding should not be “banned” (thinking of US based airlines who have dealt with their own fall out from telling women to cover up).

  33. Tara says:

    So many thoughts. I never knew me feeding my child ,the way god intended me to, would be so controversial. I never knew nourishing my child was also an excuse for someone to be turned on. While I personally find that extremely perverse, I understand we live in a world full of people who find enjoyment in things they shouldn’t. So if you struggle and believe I shouldn’t nurse my child around you….then leave. YOU leave. You are the one with the issues. Not me. Heaven forbid you are to be around a woman using her body the way it was intended. Don’t blame me and my baby for your wandering mind. I’m so maddened. Motherhood is hard enough, stop making it harder. Women are shamed enough, don’t make me feel ashamed for doing what I feel is best for my child. Your worthiness has nothing to do with me. I am not your keeper.

  34. Amelia says:

    I’m very proud of the work you did here, friend. This is important, but also very well written!

  35. Lee says:

    Why do you feel the need to make a Federal case of this. For goodness sakes, just cover up!

    • Eliza says:

      For the love of all that is holy and good if one more person says this I am going to lose my mind. The. Baby. Is. Eating. If you have a problem with than YOU can cover YOUR head. Or, you know, be a functioning adult and carry on with your normal activities, unperturbed by a normal, essential, lifegiving activity that has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR DELICATE FEELINGS.

    • All Heart says:

      How about you cover up? Eat several times with a blanket over your head, and so you don’t miss the common Mormon experience, eat a few times in a bathroom with a blanket over your head, and return and let us know how it went.

  36. jsherlo3 says:

    Women should be able to breastfeed in church. Serving my mission in Argentina, women breastfed in the open all the time: at home, at church, even walking down the street. Church buildings in South America aren’t designed with mother’s lounges so retreating to one is not an option, so women just breastfeed in the chapel during sacrament meeting. Sure, it’s a shock at first for a 19 year-old missionary, but they soon get over it and don’t even flinch when it happens after a few weeks. This is a cultural issue that North Americans need to get over.

    My only criticism of your article is that I think used Isaiah 49 too far out of context to validate your point. The scripture in Isaiah 49–one of my favourite scriptures by the way–is not to express that nursing mothers are a type of Christ, but a promise from Christ to scattered Israel that he remembers them and and will never forget them even though times seem difficult. To me, the imagery meant to be conveyed in Christ comparing himself to a nursing mother is to express how impossible it is that he would forget about us and scattered Israel.

    In regard to stalling the perpetuation of rape culture, there is a stronger scripture than Article of Faith 2 to validate that point. Matthew 5:27-29:

    27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

    28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

    This scripture squarely places chastity-related sins on the person that lusts, not object of his/her lustful thoughts.

    In any event, my criticisms are petty, and this is a change I would love to see in the Church.

  37. We have a policy in Ontario, Canada:

    “This also means that women have the right to breastfeed undisturbed. Women should not be told that they cannot breastfeed their children because they are in a public area. Women should not be asked to “cover up,” or move to another area that is more “discreet.”

    Employers, landlords and service providers must address any discrimination or harassment related to pregnancy that may arise within their organization. If organizations become aware of discrimination or harassment, either through a complaint or other means, they must respond appropriately. Organizations who fail to take steps to address discrimination or harassment or a complaint of discrimination may be found legally liable under the Code.”

    http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-preventing-discrimination-because-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding

  38. Renae Aston says:

    This article is written to further incite contention and disparity.. I don’t believe it really happened.

    • All Heart says:

      Now, that’s just silly. These sorts of interactions happen regularly, although not normally to this degree since a lot of men are more mature than the ones in this account, and if you’re not aware that these things happen, that’s on you, not the website.

  39. JNB says:

    By this same logic, her leaders should then ask the deacons to wear loose-fitting pants, lest they stir up lustfull thoughts in the minds of anybody in the ward who struggles with same-sex attraction, because lately the trend for boys’ and mens’ dress slacks has been a “skinny jeans” style that really hugs the booty, and deacons parade themselves abot the chapel every Sunday. Also, those same leaders will need to tell all the YW to stop wearing tight knit skirts that show the outline of their thong underwear when they walk up to the stand, as well as the snug knit shell tops that show every single outline of their body when they are cold. None of these teen trends aids in the feeding of children, however–their fashion choices are simply for fun. The mother in this situation is performing a service, sustaining life.

    • Beth says:

      Um no it doesn’t work that way for women. We get counciled to pray, read the scriptures, exercise self control, see the bishop on a regular basis, dont take the sacrament or pray in church for a few weeks. This would 100% be our problem to solve. We would leave every single meeting with the bishop with our worn down copy of the Miracle of Forgiveness completely devistated and crying that we couldn’t be better people. This is why when this woman is doing nothing sexual with her body and it makes other people uncomfortable who have the ability to look away – it is the woman, the walking pornography that is the real problem here. Look at how byu was and maybe still is treating rape victims. Get raped, get kicked out. Surely you were doing something to cause it. Yeah byu seems to be ok with a bunch of rapists walking around on campus so long as they can pretend their date rape stats are low.

      • jettie says:

        And don’t forget BYU-Idaho, where women’s ankles and toes are still required, by campus dress code, to remain covered up (the women there are forbidden from wearing even capris or flip flops)

      • erika says:

        @Jettie Just clarifying that you can wear sandals at BYU-I…you’re not supposed to wear rubber flip flops, but you can definitely show your toes.

  40. Laurie says:

    “Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”

    • SC says:

      But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

      So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

      And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

      And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

      When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

      She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee…

  41. Leigh Ann Smith says:

    I am 62 and raised 6 sons and nursed them all everywhere but I did wear shirts that pulled up and I was discreet and and no one ever said anything to me anywhere, even Church. (Even Sacrament MTG) We didn’t always have Mother’s rooms. it seems to me that this mother could wait until after the sacrament is past in the chapel with her family and leave to nurse the baby by herself. There’s no reason for the family to sit in the foyer throughout sacrament meeting or for her to sit with her breasts hanging out there. (As it has been reported) That is disruptive and does not set a reverent tone for people entering the chapel for three kids to be playing either. I say this as the grandmother of 20 & all of our grandchildren were/are breastfed as well.

    • Violadiva says:

      Thank you for sharing your experiences, Leigh Ann. As stated upthread, we will not be permitting comments which blame, place shame, or judge the victim of this story.
      It sounds like you were able to nurse your 6 sons freely, wherever you were. Why do you feel it’s necessary to place restrictions on other women? Do you think the worldwide church should have a stated position to restrict public nursing, going against state laws? Or should the church have a stated position that they will follow local laws within the building, regardless of it being private property? Should local church leaders be allowed to usurp state law within an LDS church building?

    • All Heart says:

      Where in the world are people coming up with the idea that there was no discretion? Pure invention to justify the ongoing continuation of the 1950s-1960s formula culture in America? Just because someone like Leigh Ann claims to have nursed six children doesn’t mean she hasn’t also bought lock, stock, and barrel into the corporatized formula culture.

      In case anyone is not aware, this is not to say that formula is bad. In some cases it’s absolutely necessary; in other cases it’s a good choice, but the manufacturers created a culture that made it “gross” rather than natural to breastfeed children. Sold formula and bottles and bottle warmers and bottle washers. Both of my grandmothers raised their children during this post-war era and experienced great pressure not to breastfeed, from both public and their doctors.

  42. Tim says:

    Violadiva – I think some people will attack the mother no matter what, and other people will defend the mother no matter what (unfortunate on both ends I think). I agree with the comment policy that we should not be blaming and shaming people. Yet, an honest discourse on the topic of breastfeeding in public must explore both the attitudes and behaviors of the mothers and those objecting. That isn’t taking sides, but rather trying to understand each other.
    I’m not sure the argument really has anything to do with state law. The church as a private religious institution, operating on private property, has the right, and clearly exercises that right, to place restrictions on congregants and visitors outside of what is permissible by law. For example, you are legally protected to walk down the street in a bathing suit, but the church will not allow that. In many states you have a legal right to openly carry a handgun, but the church does not allow it in their buildings. Clearly breastfeeding in a church and carrying a handgun in the church are not equivalents, that is not the point. The principle is whether or not the church has the right to make those choices, which it does, independent of the law. I am not aware of the church having any official policy on breastfeeding.
    Are you advocating that the church publishes an official policy globally permitting mothers to breastfeed uncovered in any church building, any room, during any meeting?

  43. CS Eric says:

    The moral outrage against a woman feeding her child is breathtaking. The only thing I see in this thread that approaches the manufactured outrage is the level of mental gymnastics people exercise to justify that moral outrage.

    It’s a mother feeding her child.

  44. Leigh Ann Smith says:

    My point was, why are women fighting to nurse and not be discreet publicly, you can do it discreetly publicly, this should not be a battle. Now suddenly it is one more battle to fight. It makes me so sad to see all these battles being fought. And I’m a convert, not a blind follower. And hardly anybody nursed babies openly when I did, 30- 40 years ago . Everybody brought bottles to church if they nursed it all. it may be common culture in Africa and other countries to just let it all hang out, but it is not here. Is that what we really want sisters? My body is my body and I only wanted to share it with my baby, etc. And I nursed one till he was 2 and 1 til he was a year-and-a-half etc. I’m sorry if it seems like I’m victim shaming. I am merely giving one old grandmas advice ..

    • Tara says:

      I understand what you are saying , and I love that you nursed publically! I also do, but “descreetly”.. as in I don’t think people would even know what I was doing…

      I have been around women who do just let their breast stay out after that baby is done feeding and they haven’t noticed. (Others around definitely noticed, I felt a little embarrassed for her) It was distracting, but I don’t think she even realized. (I’m probably more self conscious).

      I tend to side with you here, your way is more “my style”, but I don’t know if it’s right for me to try and out restrict others. I will teach my children to politely look away and give the mother and baby their privacy. Not to change the Mother’s behavior.

  45. Tim says:

    This is not just an LDS issue. I literally just saw this on cnn.com front page two minutes ago (public pools, airplanes, airports, gym, school, work). It really is a US cultural issue; and like most cultural issues, the standards, sensitivities, expectations, norms, practices, and policies will continue to change.
    https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/07/24/minnesota-moms-confronted-for-breastfeeding-mxp-vxp.hln/video/playlists/breastfeeding-controversies/

    • Beth says:

      Cultural sensitivities or not it’s the organization that backs down because by law they are required to let the woman breastfeed without harassment. Then they are the ones that apologize. It ends up being a pr nightmare. For a short time, public pressure causes them to issue a statement and it goes away until another ‘manager’ does it again. I have yet to see it the other way around since these laws came into effect allowing women to breastfeed anywhere the public is allowed ‘visitors welcome ‘ would qualify.

    • Ziff says:

      I agree that it’s a US cultural issue to some degree, but the treatment of women as sexy, dangerous creatures who lie in wait with their tantalizing body parts to seduce men at every turn is amped up dramatically in Mormonism. It was our GA who said that women can “become pornography,” for example. It is our YW camps where teen girls are frequently required to wear clothes *over* swimsuits to adhere to some absurd skin-covering-obsessed standard of “modesty.” It is our FTSoY pamphlet that gives impossibly absolutist advice like “Never do anything that could lead to sexual transgression.” US culture certainly sexualizes women’s bodies, but Mormonism turns that up to 11.

      And that’s all to say nothing of the bishop and SP taking away the woman’s temple recommend over her unwillingness to submit to their “authority.” (I put this in quotes because they’re clearly exercising unrighteous dominion, so they don’t actually have any authority anymore.) The absolute deference to authority required in the Church is absolutely not a US cultural issue. I’d say that combining the extra sexualization of women’s bodies with the deference to authority requirement makes this a deeply Mormon issue, and I think that to try to attribute it just to US cultural norms seems like just an attempt to wave it away without considering it seriously.

  46. Old Man says:

    Nursing mothers have a right to nurse in a public space. Problem: I am no lawyer, but I don’t think a church foyer is legally a public space. You can be asked to relocate. It is private property. Try staging a protest in a church foyer. It won’t last very long. Guys with badges show up and escort you out. Your mugshot ends up in the front page of the ward newsletter.

    Nursing mums gotta nurse. The church has built rooms for it. These rooms are not designed to accommodate all the kids who want to escape sacrament meeting and go with mom. They can stay with Dad or with an adopted aunt or uncle in the ward. Young children need to be taught young to sit still in meetings or they end up like me, an old man with a sketchbook in church meetings.

    This world is crazy. I wish this mom had no troubles. She wouldn’t have a problem with me, I would just offer to tend her kids while she went out and fed the baby. I would teach them how to draw. I wish all people viewed a nursing mother like the sculptor Avard Fairbanks did. His depiction of a nursing mother in the Springville art museum is beautiful and edifying. But the mother is depicted nude. I don’t think we can do that in the foyer either.

    The husband could act and keep the children with him. I’ve been there. The kids always like mom better. Especially if she is on her way out of a stuffy meeting. Duh. There will be screaming and tears. But the baby’s needs come first. Each kid gets some months with Mom. But then Dad gets to teach them all the fun stuff.

    • All Heart says:

      Guys with badges? What guys with badges? That’s absurd, Old Man. We’re talking sacrament meeting in a ward building. The only guys with badges in most ward buildings are the missionaries.

      I know you’re trying to be funny, but your comments don’t even begin to approach the experience of a nursing mother.

  47. LaDonna says:

    Dear Breastfeeding Sister,
    I am so, so sorry that this happened to you! Please know that if I were in your ward, I’d be fighting for you and defending you with every breath that I have, as I breast-fed every child in my large brood (and even if I didn’t have a brood, I’d fight for you, still, because this sort of unrighteous dominion over women needs to end, yesterday).

    Also, if I were in your ward, I’d surrender my temple recommend–even though I am 100% worthy–to my Stake President and tell him I don’t want it back until yours is reinstated (even though I hold a rather crucial calling at the moment–it would sure leave my ward floundering!). I’m half tempted to send it in to my local SP under the same terms right now, except that he has probably never heard of you (I live very, very far away from Utah), so I doubt it would do much good, barring a nationwide movement of sisters doing the same. But I hope it comforts you to know that I would seriously do this if I lived in your ward!

  48. Ashlee says:

    Very little shocks me. But this is mind-blowing.

  49. Susan Welvh says:

    You women who think you are second class citizens need help. Elder Packer was right. Feminists are a threat to the church.Seriously.Its 2018, not 1918. This woman had a bone to pick. She made herself a victim. The stake pres was out of line, but this woman was in a public place with children as around. Public places have common sense rules in place for the protection of the entire society. No one needs to worship Christ and see a woman breast feeding at the same time. Get a hobby.

    • Ziff says:

      Right, it’s 2018. That means this woman is fine to breastfeed in church. I’m so sorry that people like you and her leaders are choosing to be offended at this. Why are you all choosing to make yourselves victims of her breasts?

    • All Heart says:

      Answer me one question, Susan. Do you care about the health and well-being of babies? It sure sounds like you don’t.

      Turns out breastfeeding isn’t a “feminist” issue. It’s a mother and baby and family issue.

      And, since you evidently missed the earlier link, here are pictures of:

      * a pioneer mother breastfeeding as the pioneer camp goes on around her and her baby without anyone making an issue of it

      * a woman breastfeeding in the Tabernacle as the meeting goes on around her without anyone making an issue of it

      * a woman shown breastfeeding on the Seagull Monument on Temple Square. It’s right there in public, and still the missionaries manage to testify of Christ and introduce people to the Church without anyone making an issue of it

      * multiple women breastfeeding in murals in the Alberta Temple, and still Albertans manage temple worship without anyone making an issue of it

      http://whoopscoop.blogspot.com/2013/09/breastfeeding-and-lds-culture.html

  50. Joel Hardy says:

    I think the two issues that bother me about this is that while it is the norm to openly breast feed uncovered in other countries and cultures, even in LDS churches, it is not the norm in the North American LDS culture during church meetings and is therefore distracting to those not use to it. Not a sexual thing, but nevertheless distracting because members are not use to seeing it in church here. It seems this woman is trying to force it to become the norm.
    The second thing is the fact she went to the media it to get her 15 seconds of fame about it. This kind of behavior and attitude is divisive in my opinion.
    I also don’t agree with how it was handled by her church leaders, but I also very much doubt the Stake President said they were going to “kick her out of the building”. He might have said something like we will have to ask you to leave.

    • All Heart says:

      All the mansplaining! What would one of these discussions be without a healthy dose of ‘splainin’?

    • Nathan says:

      Perhaps we should worry less about what is normal, and think more about what is compassionate and reasonable. As I look back on my time as bishop, the times I regret most are those when I reacted reflexively or dogmatically rather than trying to understand something that was foreign to me.

      The church can become a better place for many more people when we seriously reconsider norms. Sadly, many cultural norms in the church are not friendly, understanding, or equitable toward women. No, I’m not talking about the priesthood, but the myriad stupid things we do all the time that subtly, but powerfully, reinforce that women are second-class citizens.

      As for your claim that she went to the media for 15 seconds of fame, as an anonymous voice, I have a hard time believing that was her motivation.

  51. Vicki says:

    Breastfeeding in church should only be compared to other infant/toddler feeding in church. It is not sexual and doesn’t need to be covered up. People who are uncomfortable need to learn to look away or get past their discomfort. Motherhood is preached at girls and women non-stop; let mothers of babies do their job.

  52. Casey says:

    “[T]his isn’t my problem…”
    Translated – “I’m not my brothers keeper.”
    But she makes a damn fine feminist.

    • All Heart says:

      Once again, it’s not a feminist issue. It’s a mother-baby-family issue.

      As I just explained again on the other post, the portrayal of breastfeeding as something that has to be done in private rather than being something that women naturally do when a baby is feeding or needs comfort is an invention of the successful post-WWII effort by manufacturers to make bottle-feeding seem normal and breastfeeding as a perversion.

      People who think breastfeeding has to be done in private have bought entirely into this corporate propaganda, without even knowing the roots of their dislike of the practice.

  53. repeal1968guncontrolact says:

    This stake president is the worst kind of petty dictator who should be removed from power but salt lake is too busy training them to treat members like this and too busy REWARDING them for abusing members.

    Follow his arbitrary commands or you’re “not sustaining your leaders?” That is total bull___ and any decent person knows it. He pulled that “not sustaining” CATCH ALL lie when the despicable “modesty” lie didn’t work.

    What a disgusting excuse for a “man” who is ruining the image of the church so clearly he should be brought into a disciplinary court but he won’t be because there are TWO “justice” systems in the church and these abusive stake presidents are totally UNACCOUNTABLE because salt lake distrusts and even dislikes members, but not your MONEY.

    My deeply abusive stake president who repeatedly displayed a severe anger management problem, added phony charges AFTER I left the room after having his executive secretary reassure me over and over that I could respond to ALL charges. Worse, the appeals process is a total lie and my detailed appeal was totally ignored. It was admitted at my phony trial that I was being prosecuted for going to the capitol to protest legislation the church supported (man I wish I was making that up but it actually happened and salt lake not only utterly refuses to reign in these abusive stake presidents, they’re training them to treat members like ____).

    My stake president is such a petty and nasty dictator like the creep in this story, so very clearly the church is training and encouraging “seventies” to train stake presidents to be abusive. My dictator all but admitted that a “seventy” was hiding in anonymity and pushing him to attack me with bogus charges. These seventies are the biggest cowards on earth which is why they have to be paid a six figure salary to keep them compliant to a really evil corporate system.

    • Wondering Why says:

      For the most part, the only seventies we see in my part of the world (not the US) are Area Seventies. They are all still in full time paid employment, or retired, and not paid by the Church at all. They, as in the US, chair the Coordinating Councils, where the stake presidents meet and discuss issues.

      So, your assertion is somewhat inaccurate. About once a year a member of the Area Presidency might do a larger training meeting with stake presidents.

      • repeal1968guncontrolact says:

        The church did not deny the leak last year that referred to salaries to ALL general authorities. Any “seventy” is salaried and the church did not deny this. The church won’t talk about salaries so this is still somewhat veiled, but the leaked document made it pretty clear.

      • Wondering Why says:

        Putting ALL in capitals when referring to “general authorities” does not magically turn all “seventies” into general authorities. Area Seventies are not general authorities, and are not paid. I have three personal friends who are, or have been, area seventies.

        It is also worth pointing out that Stake Presidents do not answer to seventies, even though they are trained and counselled by them. Their direct priesthood leader is the president of the quorum of the twelve.

  54. Wondering Why says:

    It isn’t stated here who the members were that objected (ie their gender). However, in my experience it is usually the sisters that object, not the men. The sisters do not want their husbands seeing it happening, for their own security issues. Men can, and do, easily look away, and it bothers them not one jot.

    It is the sisters’ insecurity that seems to be the issue.

    So, whilst the Bishop and the SP were doing what may seem wrong, they were doing it for their members – needs of the many, and all that.

    Once the members have been re-educated, maybe it will not be a problem.

  55. vajra2 says:

    “”And if your children are crying because they are hungry, then go ahead and feed them, just as Mary breastfed Jesus.” ~ Pope Francis

  56. Wondering Why says:

    Putting on my wondering hat – it’s what I do.

    All of this implies a baby is being fed – up to about 12 – 18 months. However, there are a growing number of mothers who feed their children beyond this age, to 5, 6 or even 7. And these children do so when they want to. So they come to the mother, take out the breast and suck. Should this also be allowed in Sacrament meeting?

    Framing the policy could get tricky.

  57. Bill Jackson says:

    What is your evidence that any of this story is true? Other than relying on the usually imprecise and incomplete media reporting for your “facts”, what else do you have?

    Have you sat down and interviewed this “anonymous” woman and her husband? Have you equally thoughtfully interviewed her Bishop? Have you interviewed her Relief Society President? Have you interviewed the much-maligned Stake President? Have you interviewed any of the members who complained to church leaders about her conduct? Do their concerns not matter? Is this story really about breastfeeding, or perhaps something else? Have you done any impartial fact-finding at all??? Do you actually have any sense of what actually took place? Probably not. Almost assuredly not. I mean, women never, ever lie to the media about anything, do they?

    You are fond of reprimanding posters for “victim shaming” and other non-pc speech you don’t tolerate, yet you have purposely and intentionally engaged in a terrible sin yourself – bearing false witness against someone else. You have seized on the tenets of a story, and without due regard for its truthfulness or accuracy, pontificated loudly about all the alleged misdeeds (adding a few of your own along the way) purportedly committed by your principal antagonist, the Church and its leaders, without any tangible evidence whatsoever.

    In my opinion, you have no credibility. Either get the facts, or shut up.

    • All Heart says:

      …says someone who didn’t bother to read all three posts…

    • Beth says:

      When there is no good rebuttal you can always deny reality. It didn’t happen. And if it did it wasn’t that bad. And if it was, that’s not a big deal. And if it is, it’s not the Bishop or Stake President or Church’s fault. And if it was, they didn’t mean it. And if they did, you deserved it.

  58. All Heart says:

    …and the media coverage. In certain circles these days it’s so popular to cry “fake news” when the real concern is that you don’t like what’s being said and that you and your buddies are not being allowed to keep doing works of darkness with no oversight. Is that really the message you want to send, Bill?

    • Beth says:

      I keep hearing a lot of, ‘these are just men’ , ‘sustain your leaders’, ‘the church is perfect, the people aren’t’. There is always an out. These two leaders screwed up. But they are just men, are we supposed to sustain them anyway or do what is right let the consequence follow? How about this, if my church leaders, men of course, tell me to do something harmful or hurtful, after prayer. I don’t do it. I won’t ever put myself in a position to have to lie to myself or others that I was following orders, giving up my autonomy over to another person. No matter their intentions because actions are what matter. Others can make mistakes, I can’t repent for them, only myself. If that puts me into apostasy I am ok with that.

  59. Sam says:

    The only thing wrong with this church is men. Am I right ladies?

  60. HM says:

    Has anyone here heard both sides of the story? Did anyone know that this mother let her child (not baby) climb off her lap, leaving her breasts completely exposed, until the child decided to come back to finish nursing? There is no excuse for some of the things the Bishop & SP said, but let’s listen to the ENTIRE story. Not just the pieces that give us a news story. Logically – do we all really believe she was the ONLY woman in that ward to nurse without a cover? Doubtful. The issue is leaving her breasts exposed while the child was playing on the ground.

    • Violadiva says:

      HM, this comment violates the stated comment policy established for this post. We will not allow victim-blaming language. This question has been address more than once in comments upthread, on the addendum post, and by the mother herself on the MormonLand podcast from last week. Your claims are inaccurate, uncharitable and hurtful.

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