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August 12th, 2013
01:30 PM ET

Judge: Baby can't be named 'Messiah'

A Tennessee judge has ordered the parents of a 7-month-old boy to rename their son "Martin" instead of "Messiah," CNN affiliate WBIR reports.

"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," Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew said.

Jaleesa Martin, the child's mother, told WBIR that she intends to appeal the decision.

Do you agree with the judge's decision or do you think the parents should be able to name their son Messiah? Let us know in the comments below.

Read the full story at WBIR
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Courts • Tennessee

soundoff (1,648 Responses)
  1. Shane W.

    I don't think the judge has the authority to say what someone can or cannot name a child. That being said the parent who wants to name their kid "Messiah" is a moron, think of all the jokes that the kid is going to have to endure while growing up. Instead of trying to give your kid an over-the-top unique name, give them a name that won't get them ridiculed.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  2. Kansas Slim

    What in the world (or more precisely, what in the law) gives this judge any right whatsoever to forbid a parent from naming her child what she wants, especially something as benign as Messiah? And what if someone doesn't even believe that Jesus was a god? What if they aren't a Christian? Only in the American South, or the Mountain States, could such a result occur. What about all these people who name their child, Jesus. I guess they better stay out of Tennessee.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • 808

      re: Only in the American South, or the Mountain States, could such a result occur. What about all these people who name their child, Jesus. I guess they better stay out of Tennessee.

      Jesus was a common name, even back in Jesus time. That name is permissible.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
      • skarphace

        808, that is exactly the point. Who gets to decide what names are "permissible"? You? Congress? Evangelicals? God? Who makes this list of "restricted" names? Answer me that and I will debate it with you.

        August 12, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
        • 808

          Judges, responsible parents, and priests should be in charge of maintaining names that are appropriate, based on common sense.

          August 12, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
        • sam

          That'll go well, 808.

          August 12, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
      • Kansas Slim

        808, I don't think you want to give that kind of power to judges and priests; or to any other mere mortal.

        August 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  3. Misterwire

    USA is a union of 50 states with each state independent to make and interpret their own laws. Tennessee as a member of the union has the right to stop this woman from naming her son Messiah. Tennessee does not have to see things the way other states see things and must not be harassed for doing what they think is right for their state. LEAVE THE JUDGE ALONE, LEAVE TENNESSEE ALONE!

    August 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I don't think that the state has given the judge the right to change a person's name.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Ah but constitutional rights will always prevail. The judge does not have the right to bring her belief in to any decision. This is a clear violation of separation of church state and it will more than likely be overturned.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        "............................................consti*tutional rights will always prevail......................................."

        Socies live on a distant planet far, far away.

        August 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • sam

      Uh – people can see anything any way they want. That does not allow you to make new laws on the spot, however. The judge had no authority to do this.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Roklobster

      Supreme court is gonna slap tennessee like an ugly redheaded stepchild if this goes that far. Judges dont get to make decisions about stuff like this.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Led

      The judge is a religious nut and is letting his personal views infringe on making an unbiased decision. A clear violation of separation of church and state no matter what state it's in.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Akira

      The Constitutional Law superscedes state laws, always. She violated separation of church and state.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Johnny

      I live in TN and think the judge should resign, and if you want to live in a theocracy you should move to Iran.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  4. TJO

    You should be able to name your child whatever you want however parents should be considerate. If it's a name that will cause the child extreme duress then they should be advised not to do it. So you should not name your child Hitler or even Messiah. But a court should not be involved. Unless there was a custody dispute and the name was part of the issue.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  5. Hugh_Mann

    one word: "Tennessee", explains it all

    August 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      Davey Crockett and the Alamo, girly socies.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  6. Al_Satan

    He would have been the first crack dealer named messiah

    August 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  7. J.A. Miller

    So you can't name a kid Earl or Prince or Malik which means king...

    August 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      old standby, Baal. It will remind people how free they are when the bank Baalouts are in the news.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
      • Michael

        Whoever said you were pithy created a monster. You're not. You sound borderline retarded, (with apologies to borderline retarded people.)

        August 12, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  8. fibsernum

    I assume this case was tried in Iran, right?

    August 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  9. Sheila

    I agree with the judge. There is and will only be ONE Messiah!! The parents to want to name their child this shows much disrespect of the 'Messiah'. There are plenty other pretty names to name this child. Parents should think of how their children will feel when they get older about the names they were given or how they will be made fun of in school because of their names.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      It is a name and the judge violated separation of church and state and is clearly wrong!!

      August 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • J.A. Miller

      I respect that belief but it is your belief and the State should have nothing to say about what you want to name a child. There are plenty of kids named Jesus, Joshua, Christopher which means messiah...

      August 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • Colin

      You said, "There is and will only be ONE Messiah!!"

      Oh bullsh.it. Less and less people believe Jesus had any kind of magical powers and those who do are driven by ignorance.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • Dee

      We don't have an official religion, Christian or not, and the judge should stick his nose out. Far from everyone accepts your so-called "Messiah".

      August 12, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, WOO HOO!! Now let's get busy making everyone with the name 'JESUS' change their names too!!

      You see the trouble here, Sheila? No? Shocking.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • NavyBosnM8

      Ur an idiot.... the Judge is supposed to uphold the law. Not impress their personal beliefs on someone else. If you don't wanna name your child Messiah, then don't. But don't presume to tell someone else what to name theirs..

      August 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
      • Misterwire

        Can you not express yourself without calling people names? The Judge is there to interpret the laws and he has done just that. Just because the law does not comply with your ideas does not make it wrong. It is what it is, name your child something else or leave him without a name. After all, you have the right not to give your child any name. Respect God and fear him for he is worthy and cannot share his glory with anyone. At least, you can glorify him for the solid ground you are standing upon. Soften up your heart and seek the Lord today while you can because tomorrow might be too late.

        August 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
        • midwest rail

          The judge clearly overstepped her authority and will be overturned if the mother appeals.

          August 12, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Misterwire

      There is one Messiah and this Judge has lifted the name of the Lord high by saying no to the madness that is going on in the world today. God's name must be respected and the Judge has done just that. My humble prayer is that God will remember this Judge on the last day for standing up for Christ. This judge is my HERO!!

      August 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
      • sam

        LOL Oh please.

        August 12, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
      • G to the T

        I'm just going to keep saying this until it sticks – "messiah" = "annointed one" (from the practice of pouring oils on kings/high priests when they were inducted) as a sign that they were favored by god and fit for their position. There are DOZENS of "messiahs" listed in the bible.

        Do you guys even read the book? Why do I know this and almost every christian on here does not?

        August 13, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • brian

      Actually it depends on your religion

      1. the promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish people.
      2. Jesus Christ, regarded by Christians as fulfilling this promise and expectation. John 4:25, 26.
      3. (l.c.) any expected deliverer or savior.

      Only if you are a Christian do you have a monopoly on the term. The issue here is this is not US law, but judgement based definition 2 above. This is no different than Sharia law, and we have plenty of people named Jesus, even other kids named Messiah. ( it's even on one of those baby name sites )

      August 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • C Dude

      Fine, I respect your opinion – so don't name YOUR kids Messiah. But YOU nor anyone else should be able to impose your personal beliefs upon another, especially something as benign as a name. Sounds a little extremist to me. But apparently you seem to think this is ok. I would find it hard to believe that Tennessee state law authorizes any Judge to determine what an appropriate name is. I hope not because that is not what America is about. Freedom to all.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
      • Misterwire

        State of Tennessee is not a stagnant pool of water. It is active and dynamic and can add to their existing rules and regulation(s) at any time. As an independent state, we should not impose our interpretations on them either.

        August 12, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
        • G to the T

          As soon as she referenced her religious beliefs as the reasoning behind her decision, all arguments for this being a state's rights issue went out the window. TN might be nice place (I've never had the chance) but this judge should be an embaras.sment for anyone who lives there.

          August 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  10. Lycidas

    15 pages already. Are we going for a record or something?
    Even more amazing is that this is a simple case of a judge going too far with her authority and will eventually be over ruled by a higher court. It's pretty clean cut.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Ummm...no. Does no work for ya?

      August 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • sam

      It's silly and hardly worth the yelling. But, it's getting hits on their counter, which the advertisers love.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
      • flying spaghetti monster

        Also, it features the thing right wing bigots love the most, an opportunity to trash on black people.

        August 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
        • Lycidas

          Seems more like an excuse for liberals to make fun of conservative and southern white people. At least that's what I get from the majority of snide comments on here.

          August 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Misterwire

      That Tennessee Judge is the winner. He is my HERO/SHERO!

      August 12, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  11. Dave in DC

    Hmm, not sure how this is the purview of the court. But then again, I think it is fine if you want to name your kid Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Dlchahn

      Do you really think a child wants the name: "Adolfo hitler" to go through school and find out that the first Adolfo hitler was responsible for the killing of 6 million people?????????

      August 13, 2013 at 5:44 am |
  12. Dlchahn

    Judges should not be able to decide what we can and cannot name our children however, parents need to consider the child when giving that child a name that is going to cause that child to deal with ridicule in their lives! Parents have to be adult enough to put their child's well being over the parents "rights" to name the child what they want!

    August 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • lerianis

      Who says that they are not thinking about that, Dlchahn? It is only YOU who are saying that this name would cause a problem for them, i.e. YOU are the one butting your nose in and causing the issue.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
      • sam

        Well, it's a very silly name, but the judge was still wrong.

        And this is a comment board, so GTFO with your 'butting in' crap.

        August 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
        • Dlchahn

          THANK YOU!!!! Sam

          August 13, 2013 at 5:40 am |
        • Dlchahn

          And, yes Sam, I did say the judge was WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!

          August 13, 2013 at 5:48 am |
      • Dlchahn

        I am not saying messiah would cause this child problems!!! I was just making a general statement about some parents who name their child names that have the potential to cause ridicule!!! I once saw birth certificates where a parent named their twins: "that one" and "that other one"!!!

        August 13, 2013 at 5:39 am |
        • G to the T

          From personal experience, I can tell you that the name doesn't really make that much difference. I have a "normal" name and my childhood was full of teasing/ridicule anyways. Kids will find a way even if your name is something like "Neal" or "Bob"... lol

          August 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Dlchahn

        Yet, you left your comment!!! Maybe you are butting in too!!

        August 13, 2013 at 5:46 am |
  13. eddie

    I guess us Spanish people can't name our children Jesus anymore

    August 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Dee

      LOLOL! Thanks!

      August 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  14. lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

    Zombies are ssssssoooooo humourless unless of course, it's someone falling down!!

    BBbbbbwwwaaaaaaaaaahahahahahaha

    August 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  15. cog in the wheel

    The judge in this case is completely wrong. Another example of mixing religion with civil law. If a person wants to name their child Messiah, Mohammed, Michael the Archangel, or anything else–I know a couple guys named "Jesus" e.g.–there should be no law against it.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • lerianis

      Agreed, cog. This is a case of a religious zealot trying to force his religious beliefs on another group of people. It should not be allowed, should be appealed and, if necessary, should be ignored.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  16. terrinor

    Regardless of whether you agree with 'religiosity' or whatever, there is one simple fact here -

    You should never give your child a name that is inflammatory or meant to drive home a point that you feel should be made. Your baby is not a soap box for you. Don't punish your child because you want to be a smart-***. Your kid is not a rapper or rockstar, please don't give them a pen name.

    A child named God, Lucifer, Satan, Messiah, or anything else is almost always an obvious jab made by the parents to flip off the religious community, and that child is going to grow up being ostracized because of it. They'll learn to either be bitter or hateful towards people (needlessly, at that) or they'll even turn on their parents for being stupid enough to name them something that is clearly meant to be an issue.

    "Messiah" is not a creative name, it's just weird. It's like legally calling your child Captain, Sir, or Mister on purpose.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • skarphace

      Well, the question isn't whether or not she should name her child "Messiah". Most people would agree that such is a horrible choice of names.

      The question is whether or not the government should decide what names are ok to use. Who gets to decide what is inflammatory? Who makes this list? If your answer is "Congress", then I have to completely disagree with your stance.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
      • skarphace

        One more point. First you say "there is one simple fact here", then you say "You should never "

        You can not start a factual statement with an opinion. The two are mutually exclusive.

        August 12, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • cog in the wheel

      You are mixing advice on raising kids (don't saddle them with a weird name) with the force of law. I certainly agree that a 'weird' name will be an extra burden for the child, but there shouldn't be a LAW against it.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • flying spaghetti monster

      I actually really doubt the mom wanted to name the kid messiah to make some sort of negative point against religion. I'd be willing to bet she's a xtian, and thinks it's just a nice name.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • She don't get it

      it is the 4th fastest growing name in the United States today. You need to get off your soap box and get with the times. Embarrassing to think there are people like you and the judge among us.

      August 12, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  17. DNA

    So much for separation of church and state.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • terrinor

      It's more like separation of state and child care.

      Let's be honest - do you really think its in the child's best interest to be given a name that is considered inflammatory?

      As an adult who may not like religious people, you might find it clever, but the child is going to grow up as a separate individual and they are the ones who will suffer for your "cleverness."

      August 12, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
      • skarphace

        Why should it be you who decides what is in the "best interest" of somebody else's child? What if the name "Jesus" was considered inflammatory? Would thousands of people have to rename their children?

        August 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  18. skarphace

    If we allow this restriction, then we will start down a slippery slope that will eventually result in a Federal list of restricted baby names that will keep growing and growing as different groups keep coming up with names that offend them. Hopefully, this ruling will be overturned by a higher court.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  19. Chris

    The problem here is that the judge is so ignorant as to think that Jesus was the only person to ever be considered a messiah in human history. Which is beside the whole point that there's no evidence it's not all just a fairy tale anyway. Tennessee...

    August 12, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Chris

      And of course, ultimately, there's the whole separation of church and state thing, which thankfully most of the commentators here seem to realize.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  20. Colin

    Sooo, I guess "Sky-Fairy," "Overrated Jewish Panhandling Hippie" and "Zombie-on-a-Stick" are out of the question.....

    August 12, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.