Tennessee judge orders baby's name changed from 'Messiah': report

Sun Aug 11, 2013 10:50pm EDT

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(Reuters) - A Tennessee judge has ordered a baby's first name changed from "Messiah" to Martin, saying that the only true messiah is Jesus Christ, a ruling the boy's mother promises to appeal, a Tennessee television station has reported.

The parents of Messiah DeShawn Martin went before Tennessee Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew because they could not agree on the 7-month-old's last name.

Ballew instead last week ordered the baby's name changed to Martin DeShawn McCullough, the Tennessee television station WBIR reported.

"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 told WBIR.

Ballew, who could not be reached for comment on Sunday, said the child would likely struggle with his given first name because he lives in Cocke County, a predominantly Christian area in eastern Tennessee.

"It could put him at odds with a lot of people and, at this point, he has had no choice in what his name is," Ballew said.

Jaleesa Martin, the baby's mother, told WBIR she would appeal the judge's order.

"I didn't think a judge could change my baby's name because of her religious beliefs," Martin said.

Christianity refers to Jesus as the Messiah, while Judaism uses the term to mean an anticipated savior of the Jews. Dictionary definitions say the word can mean one who is seen as, expected or professes to be a savior or liberator.

Messiah was the 387th most popular name for boys born in the United States in 2012, based on applications for Social Security cards filed with the U.S. Social Security Administration.

In all, there were 762 applications for boys named Messiah in 2012, up from 368 applications in 2011, the Social Security Administration said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by David Bailey and Stacey Joyce)

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Comments (10)
amasiam wrote:
Religiosity does not belong in a courtroom nor in any other branch of government.

Aug 11, 2013 12:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
gregbrew56 wrote:
Methinks the judge overstepped.

Aug 11, 2013 12:35am EDT  --  Report as abuse
MarcLewis wrote:
Just so the rest of the world understands; Not everyone who lives in the South is a stupid jackass. For some unkown reason these people keep getting elected as Judges down here. Not that the Georgia State Legislature doesn’t have an inordinate amount of Wackos too. My guess is that our Politicians have, over the years, embarassed us to the point that any normally bright resident would feel ashamed to be assocated with them and therefore none of us will have a thing to do with Public Office. M. Lewis Macon, Georgia, USA

Aug 11, 2013 12:35am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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