Ethics Dunce: Annie Peguero, Defiant Breast-Feeding Mom

Ah, yet another feast from the legal/ethical divide, with seasoning from the minority/majority ethics balancing dilemma, and a side-dish of favored group arrogance and entitlement! The beverage? Why breast milk, of course!


Annie Peguero’s 19-month-old baby became unruly during the service at the Summit Church in Springfield, Virginia, so she nursed her, right there, in the church. She was quickly asked to move the operation to a private room, but Peguero refused.The church staff told her that it does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because the activity might make members of the congregation uncomfortable.

The mother of two left the church, and soon posted a livestream video on Facebook telling viewers her side of the story and urging women to stand up for breast-feeding.

“I want you to know that breast-feeding is normal,” she said.

Is it normal without any cover in a church? That church? Peeing is normal, but I wouldn’t rely on the “normal” categorization take a whiz in a pew. Farting is normal, but if I felt a big one coming, I would excuse myself. Eating is normal, but chowing down on a huge Italian sub during the hymns would be in bad taste. Sex is normal, but…well, you get the idea. Annie doesn’t.

To complicate the matter, breast-feeding is a legally protected right in Virginia thanks to badly written 2015 law that says women have a right to breast-feed anywhere they have a legal right to be. Dumb law, overly broad, and probably the result of pandering to the mommy lobby while assuming that mothers wouldn’t try to stretch the law to absurd limits. But Virginia also has a Religious Freedom Preservation Act, § 57-2.02, which says,

No government entity shall substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability unless it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is (i) essential to further a compelling governmental interest and (ii) the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Do we really think that churches shouldn’t be allowed to have dress and decorum codes and policies?

Peguero is an attorney—of course she is!—and is pressuring the church to reverse its policy. “I feel like my rights as a mom have been violated,” Peguero she says.

This is an issue that shouldn’t involve the law at all. First,  it’s as disruptive to bring a 19 month old to church as it is to bring her to a movie theater or a play, and when such a child gets obstreperous, the ethical, considerate, fair and respectful thing to do is to get her out of there. Second, simple consideration would dictate that as soon as Peguero realized that her breastfeeding au natural was bothering anyone, she should have removed herself voluntarily, or at least covered her breast.  This is how societies and communities work; her conduct is how they don’t work.

Peguero’s conduct falls squarely under the Niggardly Principles, specifically the Second Niggardly Principle:

“When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”

An astute commenter on Ann Althouse’s post (where she opines that the State cannot force churches to allow uncovered breastfeeding) about this incident nailed the circumstances, I think, writing,

“Churches have the right to exclude people. They very rarely do, of course. But on occasion it does happen. And if she feels the need to breast feed during the service, surely she could find one that is amenable to it. I wonder how any churches she went to before she found one where someone objected, so she could make a stink about it…”

To which another reader adds:

“It’s about respect, or more correctly the lack of it. Our hippie mama does not have respect for those around her, ignoring the fact that she is a distraction. I wonder what, if anything, she’s learned from Church.”



Pointer and Graphic: Althouse

122 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Annie Peguero, Defiant Breast-Feeding Mom

  1. Annie Peguero has proven with her every action in this event that she is a self-absorbed me, me, me ignorant fool that demands respect from others but is unwilling or unable to show any respect towards others. She’s a fool.

      • The best solution would likely have been to have let her feed her child with no interruption and then, after, arranged to speak with her to communicate the Church’s POV or policy.

        By interfering, that is by attempting to cover her and becoming distressed over what she was doing, they provoked a reaction in her.

        Based in her experience as a breast-feeding advocate, and her experience in other (sane) countries that would not ever have had an issue with a woman breast-feeding her child in public, she felt denigrated. She allowed those feelings, it would appear, to get the better of her.

        There were two levels of mistake here I think. The first I explained.

        Now that I have watched her videos and seen how she presents her case, it would appear (as others have said) that she is deliberately blowing this up. That in itself is not the best option. She will cause harm to the reputation of the church, etc. Is it really worth it to make her point?

        But the point IS a good point. Nursing a child is not in the same category as defecation, urination or other functions. It is a special category from where the poet could refer to ‘the milk of human kindness’ and such. Art is made of it and not of urination and defecation. The women’s breast in the act of nursing a child should be seen by an intelligent and thoughtful person as a special and even revered activity. I do understand that many people will not see it like that. (Whether they should be dropped by helicopters into the choppy sea 100 miles from shore, made to eat rat poison or simply garrotted can be decided later…)

        If it were common — and perhaps it is more common in America? — that breastfeeding woman are expected to go hide themselves — then her crusade could in the end have a greater benefit for mothers generally.

        Still, in Latin America and surely in all of Southern Europe, and likely in most of the world (I am less sure about Britain and the North though articles appeared in the British press about her and they very much took her side) no one would ever have come up with the idea of asking a woman to hide herself when feeding her child in public. In Latin America that idea could simply not occur in someone’s mind. I suppose the harsh Muslim countries would have problems, but their women are all covered anyway and the baby would be covered and there would be no issue.

        L’infer, c’est les autres.

        No Exit is a good play and that is a wonderful line.

        • Read the Niggardly Principles again, and #2. Arguments for why people shouldn’t be bothered by uncovered breast-feeding in church are completely–COMPLETELY—beside the point. They are bothered. They have a right to be, because nursing is not a feature of religious services. They did not come to church to watch intimate conduct that has nothing to do with why they are in the assembled. It is exactly like those other bodily functions in that they are all things many people do not consider proper public behavior. The issue is consideration and manners, and that is all. She has none. She is in the wrong. How it “should” be doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that sincere people have what they think are good and valid reasons why they shouldn’t have to watched uncovered breasts in use while attending church. They deserve respect and deference, because nursing the child somewhere else is a minor inconvenience.

          • Nursing is and certainly has been, since the origin of man and culture, a feature of human congregation. More so in the past, obviously, when no special facilities were needed, and there was no recognized reason for them to be provided since nourishing the child by the mother was part-and-parcel of life. As a woman with a child is a feature of culture and society, a woman nursing her child is equally a feature of culture. And since women are called to participate in the Rites of Christianity, with their children and with their nursing child, it is therefor right and proper that a woman nurse at Mass, though it is true that the act of nursing is not reflected in the religious rites.

            Nursing of a child in the Christian religious rite, throughout European history, would not ever have been seen to be out of keeping, insofar as Catholicism (the mother of all the Christianities) has elaborate and developed doctrines about all aspects of the man-woman relationship, defines that relationship (marriage and the fruit of marriage, children) as a sacrament, and regards the child (and the nursing child) as an extension of the body of Christ, and for this reason has not ever excluded woman’s presence at Mass though she have a nursing baby. As a general rule though perhaps, unkonwn to me, there are exceptions.

            Perhaps, in your culture, or in a segment of your culture, or perhaps increasingly in American life, religious or secular, and perhaps in your view of things as a man who does not have a relationship with a specific church and tradition, the dimension of this issue which has to do with spirtuality, or the *sacred* way that a mother and her child are regarded within the Christian traditions, perhaps this is no longer of concern to you, and thus you see a statement that it is abnormal for anyone to have issues with a woman nursing her child, anywhere, in any context, is seen by you as ‘completely beside the point’. Yet you are describing a perspective: your perspective. Not a rule of culture necessary, and certainly not the rule of law in Virginia, but your own preference.

            I will admit that she could be said to be in the wrong, as I facially understand this issue, yet not for insisting on her right to nurse her baby when and where and in what manner she sees as fit — the law of the land in fact supports her in this — but rather that it might have been handled differently by her as a personal choice.

            She is NOT wrong, on any level, and for any possible reason, in nursing her child while at church service. Not ethically and not morally, not socially, and certainly not *spiritually*. And that dimension of the spiritual question, within the context of Christian ritualism and its respect and relationship for the union of man and woman and respect and honor for the product of that union, is no small one here.

            She should not be asked to modify her position. You and those who think like you should be asked to modify yours and the greater weight of responsibility falls to you-plural.

            • Fascinating, and irrelevant. She can easily accommodate the chuchgoers with minimal inconvenience. She is the non-conforming one, and there is no hardship involved. Again, this is easy, and should be easy to understand.

              • I see your side and I think I understand it.

                There was in fact no church-goer who complained so there can only be said to be a hypothetical offended person. If I understood it correctly they were attempting to avoid the possibility that someone, I would guess some man as women would be far more sympathetic, might be made uncomfortable. That is a rather shakey ground for action it seems to me.

                I do agree that she could have avoided it by submitting to their desire. I suppose I think that she should not though, even though as you say she could accomodate them by bending slightly.

                Greater goods are to be gained by making the potentially uncomfortable ones modify their attitude, and this is actually easier, in theory, than she having to get up and leave the area to accomodate them.

                Were you breast-fed as a child?

                • “Greater goods are to be gained by making the potentially uncomfortable ones modify their attitude, and this is actually easier, in theory, than she having to get up and leave the area to accomodate them.”

                  If that is a noble effort, there’s a time and place for it, and the middle of a worship service (if you actually subscribe to the notion that one is a solemn gathering) is not the time and the place for such a protest.

                  • But neither should there have been a potential disturbance of the Service to have bothered so much to approach her and to lead her off to somewhere else.

                    That is where my own background (bias if you will) comes into play. In the culture I am familiar with it is inconceivable that anyone would ever create a scene because a woman was breast-feeding her child.

                    Why? Well, no one would cerebrally think it through at the start. But it stems from a simple fact: a woman with a child is to be honored and valued precisely because she is doing what mothers do. It is as simple as that really.

                    The issue here, it seems to me, is some level of sqeuamishness, some fear about natural body-processes, about the fear of seeing for a moment an exposed breast. Apparently, this is disturbing to some men.

                    I suggest that the reason for that is pathological (in essence). And that fits, sadly, into all manner of different and very notable American perversions. A perverse and deeply sexually sick culture which, through perverse turns of mind and perception, shows itself to have a problem with a woman nursing a child? Have you gone mad?!

                    There is (it seems to me) a more important and meanigful substrata to this issue, and many other issues that come up.

            • In different periods, women and unweaned children were kept in the home where it was safe and modest. Society’s standards are somewhat plastic and leaders for change should convert, not bully. The more important thing to me is that when you go to a home place of some other subculture, whether it’s a nudist beach or church, you should respect their customs. No one forced her to go to that church, she could choose one of the thousands out there. You should not move to anther group and demand they change. They offered and she refused accomodations, but she failed to negotiate and offer an accomodation to them and make peace in a church. That is not fair and just.

              • Perhaps, and yet it is exactly those ‘demands for change’ that define America and Americanism.

                It is obvious it seems to me that one notable aspect of the American personality, certainly the northern personality (that intense, Puritanical, self-assured to the point of arrogance personality) that when they determine something must change, it is God Himself who is invoked as he marches forward. That personality marches forth in the Name of God to change the order of things…

                That’s just a fact.

          • One thing I was thinking about is that in other instances, for example when the county clerk would not, for religious reasons, issue a certificate for marraige to a homosexual couple, that you seemed very offended that her religious view would take precedence over the law of the land.

            Now, as far as I have been able to tell, and no matter if it is a broad law and no matter how the law came to be, there is a law in Virginia which gives a woman the right to nurse her child anywhere.

            Would you not be forced to say, that is if you were held down by a troop of lactating legal matrons, that according to the law no one can or should interfere with a nursing mother? That is the gist of the law, is it not? A mother has the right to nurse her mother where she happens to be. It does not qualify it. Strictly then, and legally, the woman was in her rights to hold her milking ground, as it were.

            • “One thing I was thinking about is that in other instances, for example when the county clerk would not, for religious reasons, issue a certificate for marraige to a homosexual couple, that you seemed very offended that her religious view would take precedence over the law of the land.”

              I wasn’t “offended.” Ethics Alarms doesn’t deal in offense. That was a simple ethical principle: she accepted a job, and when her religion clashes with her job, her ethical options are to do the job, or quit.

              Now, as far as I have been able to tell, and no matter if it is a broad law and no matter how the law came to be, there is a law in Virginia which gives a woman the right to nurse her child anywhere.

              Do I really have to again go over the difference between having a right to behave like a jerk, and the unethical nature of behaving like a jerk?

              • To offend: from Latin offendere, from ob- against + fendere to strike.

                I meant the word in a more neutral sense. Her actiion (the woman who refused to issue a marriage license) was an offense against the civil powers.

                Then it is established that she had every lawful right to nurse her child there, and would have that right everywhere and anywhere in Virginia. (Heaven protect her if she entered Tennessee and there is a good deal of fear in North Carolina of the mother’s breast I’ve been told).

                But your focus is strictly then on the ethics involved. But it would have to be admitted that different persons examining this situation will see the ethical bedrock in different ways, right? In this sense my ethical decision in relation to it is subjective, as yours is subjective. It is a subjective call and there is no available objective ethical standard to which to refer.

                You say she should have willingly left the nave and gone to a side room voluntarily, motivated by the ethical principle that is most evident to you here. But someone else would say — equally in accord with a good-faith sense of ethics principle — that no, she should not have been bothered by anyone nor for any reason, and not during the religious rite, so not to create a scene.

                She was not to blame in any original sense since she was innocently feeding her child, an absolutely normal act. Others interfered with her lawful and natural activity. The blame thus falls on them, not on her. They instigated the incident not necessarily through maliciousness or mean-spiritedness, but perhaps through ignorance.

                Should anyone staill have a problem with nursing women in public the responsibility is theirs alone. They are obligated to deal with their own problem or … stay at home. (Another interesting option — perhaps there is money to be made here! is to design a special sort of head-set that men can wear when they are out in public. They just reach up and pull down the veil over their sensitive eyes and — voilà! — no more problem!)

                  • OK, so I understand this, and I certainly do respect your outlook. It is your opinion that this is ‘the wrong way’.

                    But what I want to know is On what basis does your opinion, or should your opinion, trump the opposing opinion? There is no question that an opposing stance is possible, and I have certainly presented it.

                    Does it ultimately come down to ‘I am right, you are wrong’?

                    This is not an attempt to be a pest, it is an attempt to gain from you a coherant description of what undergirds your specific opinion on this ethical question.

                    Basically, you say that common decency should have motivated her to move or cover herself.

                    I say that that request, or that demand, does not have a right to trump her chosen activity. Her right gives her, for example, 65%-90% of the right (certainly if examined in accord with world-ethics).

                    The intervening ones have far less right.

                    Her right trumps theirs. My entire argument is there.

                    • It’s not about “rights.” It’s about the right thing to do, the fair and considerate thing to do, the conduct that benefits the most and does the least harm. You know. Ethics. One person’s protest does NOT trump the sensibilities of everyone else, as well as the legitimate priorities of the church (service and service attenders first, grandstanding litigious hippie mothers last). The baby doesn’t care. My position is right because every system of ethical analysis supports it. Not every argument has two sides.

                    • I already granted you that both parties could, and should, have handled this differently. I still have that opinion. But you are using a grand generality: ‘everyone else’. There is no everyone else. There is a theoretical someone else, a person who might feel ‘uncomfortable’. It would appear, only you can say, that you identify with that theoretical person. Others have indicated as much insofar as they associate nourishing a baby from the breast with other bodily functions.

                      But there is a larger principle here, and that principle does blend in with notions of ‘rights’, and that is the principle of a woman’s RIGHT to nurse her child, free of harassment.

                      The principle has come to the fore and it is being adjudicated in a theoretical space, this forum.

                      I think your ethical lens is not universal, and this I am quite sure of. It would never, ever, be supported or even proposed in my culture.

                      You could fairly make the argument that it is a regional ethical issue, and refer to some cultural ethical precedent. That could work.

                      I would go so far as to approach agreement with you, and taking your side, if it were made clear to me that it was culturally and socially normal to insist that women do not nurse in public, or specifically in a church service. That is not a rule though.

                      We’ll all just have to stay abreast of how things develop in Virginia.

                    • Jack said “It’s not about “rights.” It’s about the right thing to do, the fair and considerate thing to do, the conduct that benefits the most and does the least harm. You know. Ethics. One person’s protest does NOT trump the sensibilities of everyone else, ”
                      From reading the article in the Washington Post I can see nowhere that indicates that she breastfed her baby in the church as a protest. Her baby was getting agitated, so she felt that feeding her was the right thing to do. The protest about “rights” only came later when what she felt was right conflicted with what others felt was right.

                    • Alizia was talking about rights, and the mother has framed the issue as one of rights—that was her choice. To be clear, I should have written, “One person’s belief that she has a right to do something does automatically NOT trump the sensibilities of everyone else, ”

                      I also should have noted that I agree with Althouse: that law doesn’t give her the right to breast feed in the middle of the church.

  2. Most churches have convenient nursing rooms immediately attached to the sanctuary, usually equipped with a nice rocking chair and various baby-care stuff. They often come with two-way windows and speakers so that moms won’t miss anything while breast-feeding. In a church of any significant size, the room is usually soundproofed and is often the best seat in the house. It is literally a matter of walking for a few seconds to reach this room.

    On its face, this entire story suggests a sinister motive and bad faith on the part of the mom.

  3. A cover-up is a reasonable accommodation to their policies. Relocation to a nursing room is a reasonable accommodation. She rejected reasonable accommodations. She will have no leg to stand on, IMHO.

  4. I don’t see how feeding a child can ever be considered “inappropriate”, but then again, these are churchgoers, so who knows what wacky superstitions they are deluded with. If she were on a plane, should we just let the kid suffer? What if she is waiting in line for Slayer tickets or something? Can she breastfeed then?

    Sorry, but I don’t understand how this is controversial. Babies need to eat, moms have an innate desire to feed their babies. I think it would be unethical to try and stop a mother from feeding their child.

    • You are reacting to an alternate-reality version of the story that only exists in your head, wherein a woman was not allowed to breastfeed. Please read the article in question and then change the channel to the real world to join the conversation.

      • So the article that I read states that a woman goes to a sanctuary to participate in some sort of ritualistic cult ceremony to honor some sort of sky god. She brings her baby with her (and sits in the back of the church). Her baby becomes hungry, and she feeds the baby (in the way that nature intended and mothers have been doing since mammals have inhabited the planet). A member of the cult objects to the baby being fed in this way because “it could make men, teenagers or new churchgoers uncomfortable” and accosts her, she leaves and then publicizes her treatment in a live-stream the next day.

        I mean, that is the gist of it right?

        So the ethical rule is, if you are doing something that “could make someone uncomfortable” then you should stop doing that? Even if that discomfort is unreasonable? Even if the conduct is a legally protected activity? Or is it, if someone accosts you, but you made them uncomfortable, you should not be allowed to tell anyone? I am just a bit confused.

        So, if I did not like black people… they made me uncomfortable, would I be justified in asking a black person to move to a different room? What if people boldly came into the sanctuary wearing mixed fabrics? What if I don’t like someone praying with their hands clasped, instead I am only comfortable with people who pray with their hands just pressed together? What if someone does not close their eyes whilst praying? Do I get to accost them too? If I bring my baby to the church, and he or she gets hungry, and I refuse to feed them (as apparently I should) and they wail for the whole ceremony is it ok for me to hit the baby, to stop it from crying? Is it ok for me to give the baby a bottle of formula? What if my wife used a breast pump and it is a bottle of {gasp} breast milk? If I am not comfortable with the sight of a woman’s ankle, can I force her to wear some sort of covering?

        What if instead of a baby, I brought my cousin with cerebral palsy (they can be rather offensive and annoying right?) Should he have to go to a different room? Are there any other types of disabled people that should not be allowed in, ya know so as not to “make men, teenagers or new churchgoers uncomfortable”?

        • The rule is that when you walk into a house of worship, you respect their rules. If you cannot respect their rules, that house of worship is not for you, and you leave. You can argue for that house of worship to change its rules, but not during a service; and you don’t get to express surprise when they refuse to change their rules, since, as you said, they are often inherently illogical.

          I am not religious in the slightest, and am entirely agnostic. But this is a matter of basic respect.

          • “The rule is that when you walk into a house of worship, you respect their rules.”

            I think you ought to think about that. Just because some church comes up with an arbitrary rule, does not make it ethical. In Islam they are more than happy to throw a gay man off a building. Is that the kind of rule you are talking about? In some religions the “rule” is to mutilate the genitals of young girls, should we follow that one? How about the rules in Christianity about stoning children that disobey?

            You do not get to enforce rules that violate the rights of others. You can believe whatever weird religion you want, but this is a secular society. I will put it to you again: If the rule was.. no disabled people allowed, would that be ok? It is a house of worship after all, and that is their rule… so we just get to violate the rights of the disabled because the church says so?

            • It has nothing to do with whether the rule itself is ethical or even makes sense. It has do with having manners and respecting others. When you voluntarily go into someone else’s home you make your best effort to follow the rules of that home. That is what civilized people do. If you can’t abide by the rules, you leave. If you believe the rules of the house violate the law, you should report it to the authorities.

              • Well stated. If I ask guests in my home to take off their shoes, refrain from swearing, use thee and thou, and wear a Red Sox cap, or ask that they stand for the National Anthem which I play every hour, on the hour (kidding, Neil!), my guests’ choice is to not come, not stay, or respect my rules. The same applies in a church.

                • If a homeowner asked me as a guest in his home to take off my shoes, refrain from swearing, use thee and thou, and wear a Red Sox cap, or ask that I stand for the National Anthem which he played every hour, on the hour, I would choose to not come, or not stay, in order to respect his rules. But if another guest told me to do these things I might be well inclined to ignore her, largely dependant on what words the other guest said and how she said it. The women who talked to her in the church were just other guests. Also she said it was “because it could make men, teenagers or new churchgoers “uncomfortable,””. When people want you to stop doing something because of not how they feel but because of how they say others feel then they need to be ignored.

                  • Excellent point—unless they are accurately speaking for the homeowner based on experience and knowledge—which I assume they were in this case. Also, if I were at such a house and was cleaning between my toes using my tongue, I should assume that some might be offended. How clueless do you have to be to presume to bare your boob in church…for whatever reason.

                    • Clueless is far too kind a word. This lawyer set this up, knowing full well what she was doing. Just another progressive looking to force others into their idea of how to live.

            • Actually, we have a secular government not a secular society. Our government is secular to prevent one person’s beliefs to supercede anthor’s belief.

              Atheism is a belief system just as valuable to an individual as is Catholisim,Buddhism, Zoroastrian or Islam. It is obvious that you find the notion of a deity implausible and you cannot prove that a “sky god” doesnt exist as much as others that believe one does can prove its existence. That is the nature of belief. What you are arguing is that her legislated right trumps the Constitutional right that government cannot interfere in the free exercise of any religion. In short, you want government to impose your belief structure on others.

        • It’d have been easier for all of us if you’d led with this comment, rather than the rather innocuous one from before, so we knew that you don’t really care to discuss this in any kind of adult manner.

          • If by troll you mean we disagree on something then I guess you are right. I guess no one is allowed to have a different opinion and back it up here without being a troll.

            Would you like to call me a Nazi too, I mean, we disagree on this point, so I must be a Nazi too right? Don’t forget your black mask at the next Antifa meeting.

            • Any opinion is fine, but it would be nice if you stick to the facts. She wasn’t prevented from feeding her child. She was asked either to do it elsewhere or to cover her breast. Why do you think a private church has no right to require a minimum level of modesty and consideration from its members? Where did you get the ethical principle that someone should insist on the most offensive manner of doing something rather than the least, if the difference is minimal?

              It also seems as if your contempt for churchgoing informs your choice. If so, that’s just bias, straight up. I don’t think you’re a troll. I think you are confused.

        • I was wrong, Rusty’s brain is tuned in to the Clueless Bigot Channel. And I see he has been binge-watching The False Analogy Show. For days.

          (He has also walked back his original made-up claim that the woman was not allowed to breast-feed, and is now pretending he never made it. This is depressing stuff.)

        • Rusty Rebar wrote: “So the article that I read states that a woman goes to a sanctuary to participate in some sort of ritualistic cult ceremony to honor some sort of sky god. She brings her baby with her (and sits in the back of the church). Her baby becomes hungry, and she feeds the baby (in the way that nature intended and mothers have been doing since mammals have inhabited the planet). A member of the cult objects to the baby being fed in this way because “it could make men, teenagers or new churchgoers uncomfortable” and accosts her, she leaves and then publicizes her treatment in a live-stream the next day.

          Just a theological aside, if you have no objection. Yahway could be said to be a sky-god, but more properly a god of a whirlwind. So not a sky-god per se but an atmospheric phenomenon-god.

          It would be a misperception to describe Jesus as a ‘sky-god’ though, yet the mistake is supported by various tropes of symbolism: the up-turned eyes for example in religious painting, the reference to ‘heaven’ etc., cloudy vistas and angelical choirs. But these references when better understood, reveal the complexity of symbolic systems. The pictogram actually has a far more complex origin in ideation.

          Jesus, as the second person of the Trinity, is an aspect of God that pervades all creation. I do not quite get it myself but this ‘person’ has been present and is present within the timelessness and infinity of God. (I suppose this must mean that the salvific force is part-and-parcel of Creation and, in this and any world, the second person of a Trinity will appear with a similar mission and function).

          Yet God is seen as utterly non-material and this accords with Aristotelian logic (the mover and the creator has to be completely original to and separate from any movement, et cetera). He cannot be said to be of the sky or from the sky, nor coming from nor associated with any natural phenomenon. If you wanted to get poetic about it (do rusty rebars get poetic from time to time?) you might describe the Cult of Jesus as the worship of a star-god (in the Aristotelian-metaphysical sense). Kind of like a ‘fallen star’ or the spark of a star which appears within the dullness of a lower order of being. Jesus really seems to come from another order of being altogether. In this sense his will opposes natural will, would not you say? He is a contrarian god therefor. He interposes’ himself into processes that are largely natural and determined. This would fit into the Johannine idea that ‘God was camped among us and we did not recognize him’.

      • Zoltar:

        You sound a lot like Brian Dennehy in First Blood. No use having dissenters spoil your otherwise nice community …

          • “You won’t last long here.” is similar to the warning Sheriff Teasle gives John Rambo about not fitting in.

            Care to explain what WTF means? I don’t speak jerk.

            • Ah! Jerk, or “jerkspeak,” developed in the 1960s as an offshoot of pompous scholarly jargon favored by politically active graduate students from elite northeastern colleges. It was leavened by the hipster derisive humor of head comics of the era like George Carlin, as well as the smug rhetoric of SDS leaders like Abbie Hoffman. As a modern post-80s dialect, it is almot indistinguishable from “snark.” Reference: Chomsky, Noam; “Jerkspeak and related sub-dialects of the US”, Weekly Reader, July 14, 2015

            • Neil Dorr write, ” “You won’t last long here.” is similar to the warning Sheriff Teasle gives John Rambo about not fitting in.”

              Never saw the movie until you referenced it, so I watched it, I’m not much of Stallone fan, at least now I know WTF (What The Fuck) you were talking about. In words alone your comparison was fair; however, in attitude it wasn’t fair – Rambo wasn’t the one being the complete asshole.

    • Wait, WHAT? Nobody said she couldn’t breastfeed. She just had to retire to a private room to do it. The baby doesn’t care whether it is being fed in mass of people or privately. Flopping one’s breast out in public is often inappropriate, if one’s audience doesn’t care to watch exposed breasts. It’s called consideration and manners. Women have been breastfeeding in public places modestly for decades—works pretty well, unless some mom wants to cause a scene, or some onlooker wants to be unreasonable.

      I recommend reading the posts before commenting.

  5. Jack,

    “Dumb law, overly broad, and probably the result of pandering to the mommy lobby while assuming that mothers wouldn’t try to stretch the law to absurd limits.”

    I agree with you on points 2, and 3, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call the law “dumb.” After all, breast-feeding, unlike most of the examples you mentioned, could cause peril for an infant who isn’t fed at the proper time. I don’t suggest there’s likely to be an emergency where a starving baby had to get breast milk THAT minute or it would die of malnourishment but, if there were, it’s comforting that there’s some protection for women in that situation to do what needs to be done without fear of recrimination.

    I don’t suggest it’s a good law, mind you, just that it’s not entirely dumb either.

  6. I weaned my daughter last year, and for the life of me I don’t understand this whole issue and why we need laws for this sort of thing.

    When I was nursing, I breastfed her wherever I happened to be, and I would have been pissed off if I was told I wasn’t allowed. And by that I mean “slightly huffy and annoyed” and not “prepared to sue or have someone arrested.” Similar to if I had been told to throw out an expensive coffee when there were no posted signs disallowing it.

    On the other hand, I took her to places it’s appropriate to take a small child, moved to a corner or unpopulated area, and wore baggy, lightweight shirts that acted as appropriate cover so nothing was exposed. The only way you would have know she was feeding rather than sleeping is if you came up to us. And if someone had suggested a better place for it (as long as it was sanitary and convenient) I would have apologized and moved.

    Strangely, that never once happened, let alone being told I wasn’t allowed, because I used some common sense and tried to respect the people around me. I’m not sure I think we need laws for people who lack those things.

      • A computer generated church image? A photo from a physical church, or the same denomination might be appropriate. Some branches of Christiantity like Anabaptists don’t celebrate mother and child imagery where they worship.

      • As a bumper sticker this might work. But if you really want to advance this from a theological angle, it’s rife with folly.

        There is plenty of conduct that God (which would include the Son, as long as you are Trinitarian) reserves for Himself and Himself ALONE – forbidding humans from engaging in. There is conduct that God specifically permits (or mandates) specific individuals through revelation to engage in, typically on a limited and isolated basis, that is forbidden from others.

        There mere flashing of a computer image showing the 2nd person of the Trinity being nursed by His earthly mother would not make your assertion true with these aforementioned “exceptions” as distinct possibilities.

        Let alone the fact that the mere imagery tells a story of a relationship *key* to the theology being preached.

    • …okay, if that had been the church where someone told me breastfeeding wasn’t allowed, I would have been forced to make a social media post about it. Only because it would have been hilarious.

    • Pope Francis did encourage mothers to breastfeed in the Sistine Chapel if their children were hungry and becoming fussy.

      • I’m guessing it’s not a catholic church here. Those tend to be pretty accepting of all the messiness involved in childrearing. The very occasional busybody who thinks holding hands is something to ‘take home so I don’t have to see it’, but kids, you got some wiggle room.

    • I hate to say this, Alizia, but that actually made me laugh. And you have a point.

      I may need to re-read the Book of Revelations.

          • Do you mean ‘ugh’ as in gross? Or more like the Latino or French ‘Uff!’ As in bad joke?

            You know I looked up the church that Jack referenced and, as I thought, it is a Protestant outfit. I don’t know which brand of Protestantism, I didn’t try to find out, but it made me think a few things. One is that it would be inconceivable to do or say anything to a mother sitting in church and nursing her baby. I think if you did such a thing, and if you bothered the women, they would haul you away. The symbolism just in itself of putting a restriction on a mother nursing her child is appalling. I personally think one has to have a darkened mind not to understand how profoundly offensive such a restiction is. If one’s religion made a nursing mother an object of fear and contempt, and if one’s mind were so polluted that it could only perversely sexualize it, I would say that there is something deeply and tragically wrong (in the religion and in the mind).

            Catholicism is really an unusual religious symbolism because it is bound to the image, and all the symbolism, of a mother and child. In all the different phases.

            There is a shrine in Bethlehem dedicated to the nursing mother. The video is in Spanish but there are likely others. The Madonna nursing is also a common theme, or used to be common.:

            • “If one’s religion made a nursing mother an object of fear and contempt, and if one’s mind were so polluted that it could only perversely sexualize it, I would say that there is something deeply and tragically wrong (in the religion and in the mind).”

              Were those the arguments made by those censuring the woman?

              If not, then this whole screed is a straw-man.

              • Sick as it sounds, it’s actually perfectly normal and common for a nursing mother to become aroused during breastfeeding. Of course, concealing that arousal is probably the right thing to do.

              • Tex writes: “Were those the arguments made by those censuring the woman? If not, then this whole screed is a straw-man.”

                It is presented as probable that some theoretical person will be made ‘uncomfortable’ by the sight of a woman breastfeeding her child. What is the basis of this discomfort? In these posts one can, I think, discover that answer. One is the very idea of a mother giving her breat to a baby seems to cause all manner of psychological reaction. From simple ‘ick’ to comparisons to ‘leaky anuses’. And then there seems to be a psychological dimension and some sort of confusion about the nutritive aspect of a nursing mother and the sexualization of nursing with the reference to a porn niche-market.

                I am here to learn, to see what people think and to understand how they interrpet the world, and I am also here to become decisive, to make decisions, to see clearly despite BS and other forms of smoke screen. So I will tell you what I conclude. Not absolutely but tentatively: If people (men that is) think in these terms, if these things come into the find, if they come to be displayed and talked about, and are offered as things to hold in the imagination, I feel That one could make a simple glossary statement. But it requires that the *you* I refer to is the plural and distinct from the singular and personal ‘thee’:

                You are sick people, in a sick culture, and the sickness will rise up and destroy you, what you love, your children, your nation, what you have worked for, along with beauty, purity and also freedom.

                I suppose I must admit — I am willing to see it as immature and I will wear the label — that I think that culture and people’s moral standards can become so polluted that they merit destruction. They call it forth. That is one aspect of a Christian understanding, isn’t it? That we suffer for our sins? We will suffer the consequences of our activities?

                I have not ever concealed that my purpose is to *understand*, nor that I will take any view which seems to me *true*, and that I am willing to stand against one person, a group or a whole mass. (And obviously I am speaking of far greater events than a woman having a scrape in a church. I am trying to define ‘the moral being and status of a people’ (if one can speak in those terms).

                And I am only attempting honesty with what I see, think and understand.

            • The church in question believes in full immersion baptism suggesting a more fundamental religious view consistent with more restriction regarding body exposure. Yet on the other hand they have female pastors which indicates a certain liberal view (remember Pope Francis stated that excluding women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan). I don’t think their goal was to make a nursing mother an object of contempt but to follow their rules of what they consider to be appropriate in their sanctuary. Just looking on the web it seems that many Protestant churches who state that they support breastfeeding do so by providing nursing rooms. I personally feel that on this topic the Catholic approach is the one most consistent with Christianity but each denomination chooses how it will enforce its interpretation of Biblical guidance and in Protestant denominations there is often significant variation from congregation to congregation.

              The Catholic church holds what many consider to be extreme views on certain aspects of sexuality and has its own rules on modesty. If the woman in question had been wearing a sleeveless dress, shorts, a dress that didn’t cover her knees, or tight clothing, she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed during a Catholic service. She would not be admitted into the presence of the Lord Jesus because of her inappropriate attire. In the not too distant past and possibly today in more traditional Catholic congregations, that would have included not wearing a head covering or chapel veil. Up until 1983, the Code of Canon Law noted that it was desirable that women be separated from men in church. Is the purpose of those rules to make women objects of fear and contempt or to perversely sexualize shoulders and knees? I don’t believe so. They are simply a codification of what the Catholic church considers to be appropriate in the arena of religious practice based upon its interpretation of scripture.

  7. I think the attitude she presents is common in people who are on a crusade for some cause. They insist that the way they want to do something is the only acceptable way and cannot be modified. In this case for her to identify it as “normal breastfeeding”, the breast had to be totally exposed. Using a drape or moving to the nursing room would evidently make it some perversion of breastfeeding that would spoil it. These people, whatever the cause they espouse, are fanatics. Compromising and making efforts to get along are not characteristics of fanaticism. Using any means possible to get others to capitulate to their agenda is a characteristic. This wasn’t about breastfeeding, this was about getting her way.

  8. I’ll only add that at my church, the priest has repeatedly encouraged parents with children to stay in the main room as long as they want. He’d rather have the kids walking around the pews to get them used to attending the service. He’s also stated that if anyone feels more comfortable leaving the main room and taking the little ones outside, they’re also welcome to do that and listen the service over the PA system. And he has asked everyone to be tolerant of the rare kid that makes a little more fuss than usual. Sounds like a good policy to me (and clearly set by someone in charge, which helps a lot).

  9. “The church staff told her that it does not allow breast-feeding without a cover”
    Sounds to me like all she had to do was hang a nappy (diaper) or a towel, over her shoulder before refueling the we bairn. She didn’t have to ‘go to the back of the bus or be inconvenienced in any way. This is normal practice in any church I’ve ever been in, as far as I can recall, and in any cafe, airline etc.etc. etc. Simple courtesy and consideration.

    Yes, it sounds like she was there to play politics, or at least can’t let any opportunity go by.

  10. Emily,
    “I weaned my daughter last year, and for the life of me I don’t understand this whole issue and why we need laws for this sort of thing.”

    Bang! You’ve hit a very big nail on the head there.

  11. I grew up in the country and attended a small community church. I remember one mother who came, sat on the front row, and breastfed but she kept her breast covered. Although a poor, uneducated, southern Appalachian country, girl, she had enough respect for herself and others to cover up.

  12. Annie Peguero’s response to her experience at Summit Church, plus her pretrial-motions-by-social-media, seem deliberately pre-arranged on her part in order to honor a tenet of some American cult of litigiousness, namely, “Don’t let an opportunity to smash together politics and religion go to waste.”

    • Annie Peguero is a total narcissist who basically doesn’t care if her refusal to move to the nursing room to breast feed her infant bothers members of the church. The church made a reasonable accommodation to deal with this situation. I bet she take her pet to nice restaurants too if she owns one.

  13. I once saw Jessica Jackley, Reza Azlan’s snowflake wife, giving an on-stage presentation on C-SPAN’s Book-Tv. She interrupted herself, was handed her child and then continued while breastfeeding. To be fair, she tried to be discreet during the actual suckling. I sent her an email. If you suffered from anal seepage, I asked, would you try to discreetly cleanse your rectum in front of an audience? She didn’t respond. Perhaps the analogy was unfair.

  14. This feels a little like the united thing. An authority made a request (that most people would acquiesce to), and someone made a stink about it. Individual rights (and/or privilleges) vs Society’s right to life, liberty and all that (or just consideration for others).

    I’m generally on the side of not being a dick, but we are going through a period where authority in general is proving to be… clay footed to say the least, so respect in that direction is minimized and we’re seeing a lot more of individuals just saying no in routine situations (at least it feels like it), but unfortunately authority is one of the few ways to enforce norms so everyone can just get along.

    Basically, one of the most convenient tools for keeping the peace is broken, so we have to figure how to get along without it. Which of course means we’re going to have to learn to talk to one another as equals when we have problems, so people understand who they’re actually making worse off.

    • I bring this up mostly because it feels like the first reaction for a lot of these things is to call in the police, authorities etc, because we’re not trying to solve these problems ourselves

    • Good observation, except that the United passenger was not given a reasonable request, the United staff were the ones being dicks, and this was an issue of contract and abuse, not rights.

  15. I would have simply asked if the “church” would have allowed baby JESUS to be fed in the pews if he was hungry? If they would allow Mary to breast feed JESUS, in the pews why not anyone else?

    • This is a ridiculous comment. At the time of Jesus, women were allowed in synagogues but breast feeding an infant inside would probably get you stoned.

        • Errol, the synagogues were segregated by sex. Women were allowed and encouraged in the faith to worship, but they did not sit with the men.

          In the Christian church in the US, this was not an uncommon practice not so long ago.

    • Would Mary sue anybody who had prepared a special place just for her to breastfeed 15 feet away from where she currently was?

  16. Is it my imagination or have a bunch of people in this thread flushed common sense and decency and replaced it with piles and piles of PC nonsence, endless deflections, and wide-spread rationalizations?

  17. I value Eliza’s presence and comments even when I disagree with them. I occasionally even learn something. For instance, while I have read some Chomsky, read defenses of him, read excoriations of him, and watched a few of his interviews. That being said, I’ve never read one of his books , let alone 3 of them. I found myself agreeing that Chomsky’s ideas of how power works and is used and abused AND most importantly (came to this conclusion six months ago during the election) how the news media are manipulated and in turn manipulate the populace to be very useful. And that’s despite me agreeing with Jack and most of the other commenters about the mans shortcomings on foreign policy and most of his other views that I”m aware of.

    But on this issue, I don’t think Eliza understand the US very well. We have religious freedom written into our Constitution, and if the Virginia law conflicts with that (private association and all) the Federal law protecting religious practices (The Religious Freedom Act, if I recall correctly) then there is a very good chance it will be overturned in court. Heck, one of the defenses to this law would seem to be Reasonable Accommodation – and the Church seemed to be offering that.

    As others have said, she seems to be ME ME ME MEME…not a care in the world for the feelings of others and certainly not God. I’m non-religious and yet she seems to me to have a God complex, as if a church should change its theology just to suit her. Lastly, while I’m all for baring as many boobs as possible (hetero man here ) – though I know the price is lots of saggy ones- MOST women who breastfeed are at least partly covered. This woman seems to be not only an exhibitionist, but a moral exhibitionist – and in a Church at that.

    • Hello there. I wrote my ‘conclusion’ out way up near the top. They overreacted, she overreacted. There should have been another way to handle this.

      Yet, the whole thing causes that numerous subject and topics are opened up. Suddenly, after one has dealt with a specific thing, one is then dealing with larger issues, and issues that represent other things. I don’t know if I am making myself clear but this is one of my main areas of interest: the macro. Or how the micro reflects the macro.

      I am willing to bring this down to the level of a simple statement, and a reductive one: If a culture, or men in a culture, have psychological problems with a woman nursing a baby in church, then I conclude (because I am forced to) that there are deeper issues at play.

      Clearly, I am now outside of the original question and problem presented by Jack in a blog having to do with ethics and specific ethics abuses. (But at least I am conscious of what I do, and why).

  18. I think people are becoming more comfortable watching women breastfeed in public. I always retreated to another room but, to be clear, that is because I am more modest than the average breastfeeding mom. While juggling a baby and a toddler and all the crap that comes with them (strollers, diaper bags, carriers, etc.) and operating on only a few hours of sleep, what made other people comfortable was the last thing on my mind. If I had managed to make it to church — the most family friendly place on earth — I would hope that no one would judge me if I breastfed in a pew. I think a cover would be appropriate, but again, I think I am different than most breastfeeding moms.

    Here’s a radical thought. If someone is uncomfortable watching a mom breastfeed, why doesn’t that person go to the special room? Or not look?

    • One wouldn’t know another is breastfeeding until one sees it, that is to say, looks, no? Then the disruption is done.

      Until a population is completely comfortable with the practice it will be a disruption. And if the greater population is comfortable, that doesn’t mean a micro-population like this church is necessarily comfortable.

      This is a really easy one. Like in Alizia’s no-holds-barred breastfest culture, it may be fine and dandy to breastfeed in church. But in the culture in question it is disruptive to others.

      • I’m not sure that’s true. It’s becoming more of a norm here too — and your standard of when “a population is completely comfortable” is impossible.

        I’ve seen mothers pour soda into baby bottles. That makes me very uncomfortable. Should she have to go to a special room to feed her baby coke? Because I can’t deal with it.

        • Whip out a boob in the church I grew up in (and they have not changed) and it had better be because your blouse is on fire. Stinging insects, snakes, and squirrels did not qualify: keep yer clothes on!

        • Scratch the “complete” notion and discuss in terms of “tolerated by a reasonable majority of people” and it’s really not that difficult.

          Your comment “It’s becoming more of a norm here too” is a statement in need of great unpacking. Something going from 75 to 78% acceptability is “becoming *more* of a norm” just as much as something going from 18 to 21% acceptability is becoming “more” ord a norm.

          I would be willing to guess many many many more people are discomforted by the practice than are willing to speak for fear of the SJW furies.

          Again. This is an argument of micro-populations.

          If the majority of a church is uncfortable with the practice despite being in a town where the majority of the people are comfortable with the practice, guests at the church should still conform to that particular population’s (the church’s) tastes.

          Vice versa, of Melvin Schlubknuckles attended a church where 40 women were all nursing in the service, odds are its accepted *there* and the onus is on him to leave if he’s uncomfortable with it.

          • I will state that I am uncomfortable with public nursing — but I am a modest person. (Deery will tell you that I could barely sit through the simulated sex scenes in a stage version of Rocky Horror.) But I also recognize that this is my problem. I would never tell a nursing mom to isolate herself in another room because it might offend me. Moms have it rough, and hauling your baby, it’s gear, and possible other children to another room can be a huge inconvenience. Averting ones gaze less so.

            Here’s my final question for you all. If it is inappropriate to show breasts while feeding babies, should mothers also go to another room if they are at home with other children? If not, why is it okay for a 6 year old to see his mom’s breast but not a 60 year-old?

            I cant wait for Jack to tackle the topic of “How old is too old to breastfeed a child!”

            • I interpret the dependent clause of your question to be “If it is (always) inappropriate . . .” If we accept that to be true, then the consequence must follow that mothers must never allow their breast to be seen by anyone, including their own children, when breastfeeding if they are to maintain propriety. I feel that in the United States there are only a very few who would accept the dependent clause as being true but that there are a great number who would accept it as true if “always” were changed to “sometimes”. But that provides no guidance for any specific circumstance leaving it up to religious belief, custom, or law to decide. In this specific case, the custom or rule of the church decided it was one of the circumstances where it was inappropriate to reveal the breast.

              I really find the attention paid to this particular issue hard to understand. The nude or almost nude breast is commonly seen in ads, magazine covers, cable TV and such. The areola and nipple are the real taboo and they are not visible once the baby has latched on. Thinking back to women I have seen nursing, there was less breast exposed than is visible in many other situations we, including children, are exposed to. I’m not sure of the roles modesty and religion play. My sister, who was a very modest, AOG member, over 30 years ago very openly nursed her children and my infant daughter when she babysat her. My daughter, who I think is very liberal in most ways, always wore her “nursing cape” even in our house when nursing my nephew in the presence of family. Hopefully, at some point seeing a mom breastfeeding will raise no more eyebrows than seeing her bottle feeding. By the way, totally agree with your statement about soda in baby bottles. I have seen too many children with all of their primary teeth rotted out because of that.

              According to what I read, Jewish law sets 24 months as the customary time to wean but allows breastfeeding up to age 4 in a healthy child and age 5 in a sickly child. Certainly old enough to ask for it in a complete sentence.

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