Judge: ‘Messiah’ Is Not an Acceptable Baby Name

"It's a title that has only been earned by one person," said Tennessee judge Lu Ann Ballew of Cocke County

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Heidi Wigdahl / AP

This photo provided by Heidi Wigdahl of WBIR-TV shows seven-month old Martin DeShawn McCullough being held by his mom Jaleesa Martin.

In the U.S., all kinds of wacky baby names are totally fair game — especially among celebrity parents. (See: Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen Zappa, Moroccan Cannon, North West, etc.) But now, there’s apparently one baby name that won’t fly. And that name is Messiah.

A Tennessee judge ordered the parents of 7-month-old Messiah DeShawn Martin to change the baby’s name to Martin DeShawn McCullough instead, NBC affiliate WBIR reports. The parents initially ended up in court because they couldn’t agree on what the child’s last name should be. They’d already settled on the first name, but when Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew heard it, she sprung to action.

(MORE: Jacob, Max, Millie and Sookie: The Hot Baby Names of 2013 Go Retro)

“The word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” Ballew said. As WBIR reports, the boy’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, responded saying, “I was shocked. I never intended on naming my son Messiah because it means God and I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”

Ballew ruled that the boy’s parents must change the name on his birth certificate. In the meantime, his mother, Jaleesa Martin, is pushing back. Her appeal will go before the Cocke County Chancellor next month.

MORE: How Baby Names Can Help Marketers Predict the Next Big Thing

60 comments
shastaphirre
shastaphirre

I don't think she should name her child Messiah, but I don't think she should be forced to change it. Although, I believe it may be a good idea to have SOME sort of limitation on what a child can be named. Just to prevent names like, "North West" and the like. For the child's sake.

Really????
Really????

So there are like 242,900 something people in the US named Jesus. Statistically its the 276th most popular first name. If any name is supposed to be reserved for Jesus, I think it would be Jesus.......

Frankly this judge forgot about the separation of Church and State and needs to get a different job.

liv549
liv549

On the 1940 census there are at least 18 people in the U.S. named Messiah - some women and some men, primarily in  the American South.  It would seem that the Christian community and the children named this survived just fine. I am guessing they all thought it was nobody else's business.

It might not be the name I would choose but people have used Jesus, Emanuel,  Jehovah etc. and the fiber of society did not crumble. This is America where you can name your child any awful name that you want and on top of that it is not up to a judge to be making religious pronouncements that govern any other Americans lives.

A judge that makes a decision like this should be voted out in his next term.  He doesn't seem to understand he presides in a pluralistic society and can't tell people what to do based on his own religious beliefs. 

WonderMike
WonderMike

lol, silly christians and their false messiahs. jewish original master race reporting in.

VIntageHIppie
VIntageHIppie

Gotta say, if they want to rid the gene pool of names that are "titles" then they need to call all the people named Queen, Duke, Earl, Major, King, and all the rest into court and change their names as well.  This is such an abuse of power.  Remove this person from their position and start over!

MarioGonzales
MarioGonzales

This child has no chance in life. The mother will hover this child to death - no friends, no skills, nothing.


We really should require some sort of licensing to have children, but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Buncha rightwing nuts won't hear it.

CharlesJones265
CharlesJones265

She apparently doesn't get outside of Tennessee much, so I guess she probably wouldn't know about the thousands of Hispanic men from devoted Roman Catholic households who are named Jesus?

msep
msep

There are other people named Messiah, and this judge's religious extremism should not stand in the way of what people want to name their kids.

labman57
labman57

The mother's decision-making seems a tad silly and ill-advised, but the judge's decision and legal justification are downright scary.

RicardoChung
RicardoChung

No doubt the judge is white and in her subconsciously bigoted mind she felt she needed to chastise these people.

Laeren
Laeren

What gets me is that she asserts that Jesus somehow "earned" that title. You don't earn a title of being an annointed one, you are born into it. So no, even if he existed, the Jesus character didn't "earn" anything.

JoeZ.Aaron
JoeZ.Aaron

The judge is obviously disturbed. She must be removed from her position. Calling her a moron or idiot is to easy.... She's got some serious issues and what she's trying to get away with is criminal. She has to be removed!!!

Flashman
Flashman

As many have already stated, this judge needs to be disbarred.  She is here to uphold the law, not posit her beliefs on those appearing before her.  She is a child support magistrate.  How many other cases has she decided based on her religious beliefs, and not the law.  They all should be reviewed, to ensure that her 'plaintiffs/defendants' were given fair LEGAL judgment.  I'm assuming this is not an appointed position, but perhaps the governor needs to step in anyway, before Tennessee gets a huge black eye...

tiborsgirl
tiborsgirl

 You carried that baby, gave birth to that baby... no one should be able to force you to change the name of your child. Who does that judge think she is? Give the baby both last names... not uncommon.

RustyShackleford1
RustyShackleford1

Great googly moogly!! Wonder how she feels about cats named Mohammed??

neesied1
neesied1

Ummm! Christ is not his last name.  And since we are on the subject, can we force people who their children ridiculous names to change them?  some celebrity examples:

Zuma Nesta Rock  - (Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale)

Moxie Crimefighter - (Penn Jillette)

Pilot Inspektor - (Jason Lee)

Audio Science - (Shannyn Sossamon)

North West - (Kim K. and Kanye West)

no to mention the Tayshaun, Deron, Rau’shee, Raynell, Deontay, Taraje's 

So I think Messiah is pretty tame, Judge!

RichardHead1
RichardHead1

The judge is female and apparently they don't teach the Constitution in whatever place she went to law school. It is called separation of church and state. This judge needs to be disbarred. In protest I am changing my name to Lord Savior Messiah Jesus Christ.

md22mdrx
md22mdrx

Judge needs to either resign or be fired. He had ZERO respect for the law nor our Constitution. To push one's personal religious beliefs onto others in a court of law in THIS country?!? This isn't Iran!!!!

PattyBrown73
PattyBrown73

Screw the First Amendment and Freedom of Religion, apparently.  This judge should be tossed, this is obviously unconstitutional.

CharlieJewel
CharlieJewel

What about the name "Madonna" ? is the judge going to tell Madonna that she can't use her name? 

jway87
jway87

For anyone that lives in the real world Messiah is as good a name -- and as silly a name -- as "Prince". And there are plenty of them around. However, if you choose to believe the fairy tales that make up the bible then you might have a problem with "Messiah". Our laws, however, should be based on what's real and NOT on fairy tales!

RyderNguyen
RyderNguyen

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this considered unethical? Aren't judges supposed to remain unbiased and impartial, and recuse themselves from the trial at the first sign of bias? Why hasn't someone taken her before the disciplinary committee yet? Clearly her religious views are clouding her judgement. Unacceptable.

MalcolmLusby
MalcolmLusby

Mexicans named "Jesus" better watch out....

Dingbatzall
Dingbatzall

That backward country is the Confederate States of America.  I say put a wall around it, stop giving them the North's tax money (Yes folks, we pay it the south takes it).  They can do whatever the hell they want, even defy the Geneva convention.  I'm sure other autocratic regimes will support them...Cuba,  Venezuela, North Korea...oh wait, those states worship other gods.

irishgirl
irishgirl

First of all CHURCH an STATE are to be separate... Or has this judge forgotten that????

SandraL
SandraL

This judge needs to be fired, simple as that.  Make her read the Constitution before she's ever let back into a courtroom in any professional capacity.

WillieSoma
WillieSoma

A few facts about the boy's name Messiah:


Records indicate that 2,957 boys in the United States have been named Messiah since 1880.


The greatest number of people were given this name in 2012, when 762 people in the U.S. were given the name Messiah. Those people are now 1 year old.


So ... how do we know this stuff? Baby Names Hub identifies trends by analyzing vast amounts of data made available by the U.S. government and other public sources. This data, including social security statistics, provides detailed information on baby name popularity and trends in the United States.


When is the judge going after all the people named Jesus and oh yeah that private christian college that calls itself "Messiah College"? Are all their graduates now messiahs?

DanBruce
DanBruce

The judge was wrong to rule based on a religious belief. She was also wrong in her belief. Like many Christians, the judge betrayed her lack of understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures. The English word "messiah" is derived from a Hebrew word that means "anointed one" and, in the Tanakh (Old Testament) can refer to a priest, prophet, or king of Israel. All were anointed ones. Even Cyrus the Great of Persia is referred to as a messiah. So, if the judge wants to be religiously correct, she needs to read the Bible. If she wants to be constitutional, she needs to read the Bill of Rights again as a refresher. As for the kid, I think he will one day thank the judge for her ruling, despite her Constitutional and Biblical errors.

BillHoward
BillHoward

she cant make them change the name, just the same as you cant outlaw 48oz big gulps

this is why im a conservative...goverment is just running amok and taking money from me to do it!!

meddle
meddle

One messiah?  A quick google search shows multiple meanings to this word, so there are quite a few of them.  The Judge has no authority to change this child’s name and should reverse her ruling or be fired.  It don't really think it's a good name, but I have seen many worse naes and the kids turned out just fine.


elenaalbandor
elenaalbandor

At least someone has respect for God. I'm glad she made them change the name. There is only one Messiah and that is our Lord. Nomatter what anybody says.Amen.

rorschach13
rorschach13

...and so she becomes the over-night super-star of the religious right...she's just proven herself unfit to sit on any bench anywhere...but don't worry about her too much, I'm sure she'll find a niche on the Christian speaking tour circuit,  visiting mega-church after mega-church and blathering on about her religious conscience and her heroic moment of personal faith...nauseating !!!!!

BobRegan
BobRegan

No  Messiahs in Tennesee, but lots of massas

wotsales
wotsales

Remove the judge? She's up for re-election and will win in a landslide now.

Dingbatzall
Dingbatzall

@MalcolmLusby And are all the people named Christian the only true christians?  Take that Judge Lu Ann Loser.  Or does that mean to be a true christian, one has to follow judaism?  After all Lu Ann's messiah, Jesus Christ was an avowed Jew. Clearly Lu Ann bribed her law school professors to let her have a degree if that's the best her logic can muster.

SandraL
SandraL

My initial response when I saw the headline was to wonder what backwards country this happened in. Doh!

SimonJohnston
SimonJohnston

@DanBruceYou actually think the kid will thank the judge? Seriously? Maybe that will be true if the right wing gets it's way with regards to the education system - where banning the encouragement of critical thinking has become a priority, along with teaching a suspicion of anyone who is not christian. But he looks like he has great parents who think for themselves and appear to want their children to think for themselves - so I hope you're wrong. However I won't pretend to be a seer and claim to know the future of a child's mind.

SimonJohnston
SimonJohnston

@BillHoward But she is EXACTLY the type of judge that the conservative movement wants throughout America. Are you seriously that unaware of the priorities of a movement you claim to be a part of?

Martial_Artist
Martial_Artist

@BillHoward That is an (as yet) untested assertion. In order to demonstrate that the judge cannot make them change the name, they will have to appeal that judge's ruling.

dschiavi123
dschiavi123

No Bill...this is a judge who obviously espouses all of the virtues of the radical Christian right wing...this judge is one of the conservatives...that's why I am liberal and you are full of it

SimonJohnston
SimonJohnston

@elenaalbandor So what you're saying is, there is only one country on earth, and Jesus is from there. Oh, right wing Americans. Damaging the name of Christianity far more than any militant atheist could ever hope to achieve. Please, keep it up.

dschiavi123
dschiavi123

Stop trying to impose your religious beliefs on others...you folks are so full of god crap. arrogant and bigotted is what you are...as Gandhi said.."I like Christ...but I do not like his Christians... you are the truth behind that feeling

BillHoward
BillHoward

@elenaalbandor leln you ignorant sloshbucket,  she cant make them change the name...period

and keep your religious garbage in your mouth.