Hopes to normalize breastfeeding in sacred spaces
Amanda Zilliken, a breastfeeding mom, has organized a ‘Nurse-In’ protest at Elevation Church – Ballantyne. The demonstration is scheduled to happen on August 20. She claimed a church volunteer asked her to leave while she fed her baby in church August 6.
Zilliken is a mother of three children. She was nursing her youngest, a four-month old daughter on the church's second floor when a volunteer found her feeding her baby with the help of a flashlight. The woman then asked her to continue her baby feeding in the bathroom. The 29-year-old mother felt embarrassed by the sudden attention given to her by the other people present. She was forced to retire to the restroom and posted the ordeal on Facebook with the comment “I just got kicked out of church for breastfeeding with a cover on and directed to the bathroom ….. Shame on you elevation.” She described the whole incident as illegal, humiliating and not acceptable.
According to Zilliken, she consequently finished her nursing and then went back angry and crying to other volunteers to explain her situation. She said they were “unsympathetic,” even after agreeing with her that she should not have been asked to leave.
Zilliken’s post was subsequently noticed by a New Jersey breastfeeding activist, Ariel Tauro. The two plan to hold the 'Nurse-In' protest during the Ballantyne campus 11 a.m. service. The aim of the protest is to normalize breastfeeding activity in sacred spaces.
Led by Steven Furtick, Elevation Church is as multi-campus Southern Baptist megachurch known for ‘rock concert’ style worship sessions with seating and lighting similar to a stadium.
The Elevation Church released statement the following statement:
“We do not have a policy that nursing mothers can't be in the sanctuary. A volunteer had a conversation and felt both parties arrived at the same conclusion to exit mutually. We are sorry that this in any way offended anyone. We welcome everyone and anyone to attend Elevation church. We have several designated areas for nursing moms at Ballantyne specifically — one private to allow pumping and it's close to the auditorium for convenience and the other in the actual baby area with a TV to allow mothers to still be part of the worship experience.”
— Boo Black (@GlobalHer0) August 13, 2017