On LDS folk breastfeeding at church

Yesterday, I missed a pretty good debate in one of my Facebook groups–by the time I saw it, the comments had been turned off. Turned out threads regarding the same incident appeared in similar groups. Most of them again had comments off. Well, turned out the story had already appeared on a blog or two and that was creating quite the stir. Curious to read the drama over something near and dear to my heart, I sought out the original story, a little question in one of my most local mom groups.

So, if you haven’t heard, allegedly a mom isn’t getting her temple recommend because she was breastfeeding uncovered.


I had heard of such things before, but it always seemed to be in the realm of rumor lore. Never had I seen evidence. The suggestion a woman can’t breastfeed as she is comfortable sets my blood boiling. What devil spawn would even suggest a thing? Shall we do sacrament meeting nurse-ins and protest on Temple Square?

I don’t know the girl, even though we have three mutual friends. I assume she’s a nice person. I assume she is a faithful member of the church who wants what is best for her family. The original little post didn’t even mention what happened (that came out in the comments and later on The Exponent and another blog or two). She just wanted to know how to contact a member of the 70.

Nuggets of the aftermath pop up here and there on my feed and I feel… worried.

All things being equal, I firmly believe a woman should be able to breastfeed wherever, covered or uncovered. If this mother is worth of her temple recommend, she should have it. But when this become a rallying cry of breastfeeding rights against the Church, we have a problem.

Which is odd. I have never participated in a nurse-in, but I’d like to. I love the idea of actively championing breastfeeding rights.

But there is a line in my faith outlook when it comes to actively going against the Church. I’m not saying breastfeeding is against church policy–this is the first time I’ve truly heard of a problem. I don’t think it should be. I don’t think there’s an actual policy on the matter. Maybe there should be, maybe we should be able to move beyond that ourselves.

In some minds as far as I’ve seen, this is becoming a rallying cry of championing a cause in protest when I bet the best approach would be to seek unity and understanding. People are using this incident as yet another reason to bash the Church. This is becoming “proof” of how oppressive we are, an excuse for another reason to avoid the Church, a happy dance of anyone who wants to snub the LDS.

My wish and hope for this mother is the matter is settled calmly, thoughtfully, and faithfully.

I don’t know the situation. All I know is one voice of an incident I never saw. Was the bishop being ridiculous about the matter? Are he and the stake president decent guys who have a thing against public breastfeeding? Was this mother performing full-on strip tease at church? (I highly doubt this, I’m just wondering about the full truth). Did the discussion over the breastfeeding complaints get a little heated and one or both parties said things out of spite? For the matter, maybe the whole thing is less about breastfeeding and more about everything else. But once again, I don’t know.

That’s why I worry about this becoming A Thing. A not-so-simple matter between a few people in one ward is not cause for a march or a petition or any of that them-vs-them ilk. From what I gathered, this mother went up the appropriate chain of authority to see to the matter. May all go well there.

But I don’t think she should get her recommend just because she called and complained to a bunch of church guys.

The temple is a big part of the LDS faith. It is a place of sacred covenants, a place where one might learn or meditate or pray. A recommend is not a thing to be taken lightly, and certainly not up for barter or haggle in a social media outrage. It is not a trophy for anyone after they “won” a disagreement in the church.

I do think this is a matter we might wish to think upon. The obvious is pondering women’s rights and breastfeeding matters and I don’t wish to shun those. But in the matter of such a disagreement, how might one grow? Is this to be a fight against the bishop or the stake president or even the Church? Or is a time to consider how to meet one’s needs while still loving and honoring the Church?

Perhaps someone in the line will state the message to stop fussing over the breastfeeding. Perhaps, as one thought was given, this mother will find blessings in doing what the bishop wants, even if it is wrong. Now, I do want to make the disclaimer I can think of plenty of cases where the bishop or stake president might be wrong and it’s definitely wrong and warrants a real battle or scolding. But not all distasteful incidents are at the level, and this may be one of them. These are imperfect mortal men who are going to have their peeves and their favorites and their quirks. Sometimes we can humble ourselves to sustain and support them anyway and maybe even humor them. (Do I think this is one of those times? I don’t know, I don’t know the situation).

Whatever the complaint, it’s not a reason to put one’s self at odds with the Church. I believe this is a matter than can be handled peacefully. Maybe a policy will be created. Maybe we’ll continue to navigate such matters at local levels

But a rallying cry of breastfeeding moms against the Church, it need not be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s