A Virginia woman who was trying to comfort her baby during a church service says she was escorted out of the sanctuary for breastfeeding.
Annie Peguero, of Dumfries, says in a Facebook Live video that she was questioned twice as she breastfed Sunday in Summit Church in Springfield: first as she sat near the church's "baby room" without a nursing cover over her breast and a second time as she nursed openly in the sanctuary during the sermon.
Peguero, a military wife and mother of two, said a church official told her it went against church policy to nurse openly.
"We don't want to make a man uncomfortable in church, and we also don't want to make a new churchgoer feel uncomfortable," Peguero said she was told.
Church officials did not immediately respond to inquiries. Peguero declined an interview Wednesday evening, after a wave of negative comments were posted online.
Since 2015, Virginia law has given mothers the right to breastfeed anywhere they are legally allowed to be. There is no exemption for religious institutions.
Peguero is a personal trainer whose tagline is "finding sunshine and strength in struggle." She said she breastfeeds openly because it fulfills her daughter's basic needs. She advised other mothers to ignore stares.
"Don't change your behavior because you're worried about what someone else thinks or does," she said. "Breastfeeding is normal."
Peguero said she had been enjoying the service at the nondenominational church, where she had attended services several times.
"I'll never set foot in that church again, and it makes me really sad," she said, starting to cry.