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

63 comments
CharlesBoyd
CharlesBoyd

Peoples like dat  "JUDGE" iz soooooo STUPID!!! I named my children Cancer & Donut. You don't know which is the boy's name and whikch is the girl's DO U???!!  Hint: Donut's the one with the hole in the middle. Hey Judge? I live in Canada! Are you going to come up NORTH with a police posse, and take MY children away??!! You seem generally, and genuinely confused about the difference between what's MINE and YOURS! When U have kids you can call them all John Smith if you wish, Jugde, & I won't go anywhere near them. You already have children, Judge??..... CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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!!!

wotsales
wotsales

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

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.