A Mormon woman with four children needed a “temple recommend” signature from her bishop — like the Costco membership card for the LDS Church, allowing her to enter the building — but he refused to do it because she had been openly breastfeeding her baby during services.
Then, when her husband backed her up, the bishop wouldn’t sign his recommend either.
She said [the bishop] quoted from the church’s “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet about modesty and reportedly told her that women should cover up so that men do not have sexual thoughts…
She said she left the room several times to calm down and, at one point, while she wasn’t there, she claims the stake president told her husband that he had to control his wife — and that if he supported her, he wouldn’t get his recommend signed, either. Her husband chose to stand behind her and now neither can enter the temple.
So not only was the breastfeeding mother being sexualized, the bishop blamed her for how men would react. (With a mindset like that, no wonder stories about abuse and assault in the Church are making headlines.) And then he got angry when the husband refused to “control” her.
If this couple can’t enter the Mormon church, it sounds like a win-win to me… but from their perspective, this is tragic news.
The story was first shared on a blog called Unrighteous Dominion, then elaborated upon on Exponent II, a blog featuring the voices of Mormon women. The couple has chosen to stay anonymous because things are tough enough as is, but the reaction from Church leaders has troubled them for personal reasons:
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.
For what it’s worth, there’s no LDS Church policy on breastfeeding. There are just men who can’t deal with it. The Church needs to make it clear that breastfeeding isn’t some sexual act and women who need to do so are welcome to do it inside a temple. If men have a problem, then… who cares? This isn’t about them. (Even Pope Francis has said something like this.)
Until they do that, Mormons who go to temples where breastfeeding comes with restrictions should complain or leave. They won’t, but they should.
I have to believe this wouldn’t be such a big deal if sex wasn’t treated like some taboo in Mormon culture. When a mother feeding her children in your presence creates a firestorm like this, it says far more about the people in that temple than it does about the mother.
(Image via Shutterstock)