Amy Marchant has settled a lawsuit she brought against The Naz – Brighton’s Nazarene Church, who allegedly shamed her for breastfeeding her 1-year-old daughter.
The lawsuit stems from an incident that occurred in June 2018. Marchant was breastfeeding her 1-year-old daughter while watching her 4-year-old twins in the church’s worship area. She said church staff members criticized her for breastfeeding inside the church.
Marchant met with then lead pastor Ben Walls Sr. shortly after to discuss the incident.
“Plaintiff was told her action of nursing her child was immodest and could cause men to lust and stumble. Essentially, Plaintiff was told that nursing her child could sexually arouse other men,” Marchant’s attorney David Helm wrote in the lawsuit.
The church then decided to issue an apology for the incident and implement a new breastfeeding policy.
Marchant said that the apology she was given to approve was different than the one published in several news outlets.
In the public apology, the church stated that both of Marchant’s breasts were exposed and her actions cause other parishioners to be uncomfortable.
“Both breasts were totally exposed… From their perspective, it’s natural, we know, but we felt it inappropriate for boys and men, and we weren’t trying to shame, we were trying to deal with others who were uncomfortable and how they felt. Hurt, embarrassment and shame was not intended,” Walls said last year.
Marchant said that she wasn’t fully exposed and alleges the church “intentionally published the remarks to third parties with knowledge of the falsity of the statements and in reckless disregard of the statements’ truth or falsity.”
Marchant and her family “felt compelled to leave the Church as a result to avoid future embarrassment and shame.”
Marchant said that she feels relieved that the lawsuit has been settled.
“I didn’t even want a lawsuit. I told the judge that. They (the Naz) agreed on an apology… everything changed with that,” she said.
She added that her and her family received criticism for what happened.
In addition to the monetary settlement Marchant received, the church will have to update its policies and procedures regarding breastfeeding.