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. flying spaghetti monster

    Sister Margaret died and through some error found herself in hell. She immediately called Saint Peter and said, "This is Sister Margaret. There's been a terrible mistake!" She explained the situation, and Saint Peter said he'd get right on it.

    The next day the nun didn't hear from Saint Peter and called him back. "Please set this error straight before tomorrow," she begged. "There's an or.gy planned for tonight, and everyone must attend!"

    "Of course, Sister" he said. "I'll get you out of there right away."

    Apparently, her plight slipped his mind, and the following morning he received another phone call from hell. He picked up the receiver and heard, "Hey, Pete, this is Maggie. Never mind!"

    August 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  2. TAK

    Personally I would question the sanity of any mother that would want to name her son Messiah. However, exactly how is this judge's christian-based objection any different than sharia?

    August 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • George Downtown

      If you question the mother's sanity, then you need to question the thousands of other mothers. Messiah is now a very popular name. It is none of this judge's business to insert her prejudice and religious views into a matter like this. If you wanna be a pastor then get a church.

      August 12, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  3. Mercedes

    This is 'Merica. We have the right to name our children whatever we want to name them.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      SCOOTUS approved, of course.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  4. lgbarn

    As stupid as it is to name your child such a name, she still has the right to be stupid and name her child as she sees fit. Too bad for the child as he will never be able to put his real name on an interview and get a fair shot.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Ken

      I remember playing the you're stupid game when I was little too. How old are you, 5? Grow up dude/dudette.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • George Downtown

      It doesn't matter if you think the name is stupid. In my opinion it isn't. Messiah is a popular name.

      August 12, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  5. Sam

    A judge recently said that one set of parents had the right to name their child Adolf Hitler...I would say ordering a parent to change their child's name from Messiah to Martin is an abuse of power.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  6. Scott

    My thoughts:

    – This judge is an idiot if he does not understand something as simple as separation of church and state.

    – This mom has every right to name her kid Messiah.

    – This mom is ALSO an idiot for exercising that right and burdering her child with such a foolishly given name.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Messiah

      He's a she.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • lgbarn

      I agree 100%...People don't bother to think of the impact of the names they give to their children. My wife and I actually spent time trying to make fun of our sons name before we settled on a name that didn't carry some foolish stigma.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • chris

      Amen. LOL

      August 12, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  7. Chris

    Religious or not, do we not believe a parent has the right to be as ridiculous as they desire unless the child will come to harm? This does not seem to be as much an issue of religious intolerance or adherence to precept as it is an invasion of the rights of the parents. I, personally, think it is ridiculous to name a child Messiah and I would not do so, but do the parents not have the right?

    August 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  8. Messiah

    Judge, chew on my handle.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  9. lio

    wonder if there was some sort of dispute between the parents over the name and in typical media fashion they are not reporting the whole story. just a thought.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Akira

      It was the last name the child that was being disputed.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Saraswati

      You can see the judge explaining her decision. The reasons are clearly religious.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      The dad's name is sealed in the circular file.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  10. Esteban

    How is this Ballew allowed to continue sitting on the beach? Shouldn't at least some intelligence be displayed to qualify her to do so?

    August 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It's a clear abuse of power. I don't know what the remedies are in the field, but I would expect her to lose her job and to be put on probation for her license.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
      • Coolio the Unroolio

        Tennessee is pretty backwards. But since you are the goddess of learning, I'm sure you already knew that.

        August 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Messiah

      Funny typo there dude. Or maybe she is on the beach and got too much sun.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
      • Akira

        Lol! Good catch.

        August 12, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  11. el flaco

    My next-door neighbor is named Jesus Dominguez.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  12. ryanpaige

    In fairness Lu Ann isn't really a name, either.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Josh


      August 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  13. Joe

    She should fight the judge. A name is simply an assortment of letters. Who is a judge to say what name is and isn't appropriate. Furthermore, she should make the kid's middle name FUJudgeBallew.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Messiah

      " she should make the kid's middle name FUJudgeBallew."

      – love it. ROFL. Have a messianically great day, Joe.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It would be wonderful if the courts ruled that as punishment the child's mother could rename Ms. Ballew to anything she chose and the Judge would have to live with that as her legal name.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  14. lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

    The Big O has his legal eagles lookin' into the matter, "I've been called much WORSE!!" A spokesmama said, on conditions of anonymity, that the Prez favors, "Messiah II" and is quite proud of the support from black female voters.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Akira

      You've been called much worse, and I support your right to change your name to any one of them. I suggest "Bigot" should be on your short list.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

        What's dad's name?? He ain't impotent.

        August 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  15. Brother Maynard

    So you know how most kids have a nickname? Like Mikey for Michael or Nicky for Nicholas?

    what would this kids be? Me.ssy??

    August 12, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Yeah, its a bad name. Then again, Martin can always be Martian which isn't great, either. Then again, that's sort of what the name means.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  16. Saraswati

    I was expecting to find this woman got some sort of for profit mail order or radical Christian degree, but it looks like she went to the University of Tennessee. Scary.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  17. Reality

    Dear "magistrate" Lu Ann B,

    The Apostles' Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (references used are available upon request)
    Posted February 5, 2007 11:11 AM

    August 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • mallory

      YOUR AN IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      August 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • flying spaghetti monster

        Well done, mallory. A witty, astute response, a real tour de force of internet commentary. I salute you.

        August 12, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          ALL CAPS?
          Poor gramerr/speleng?
          Unnecessary punctuation?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

          These are the stuff of genius.

          August 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Michael

      Doesn't your butt hurt from sitting on Satan's lap-so joyously?

      August 12, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Coolio the Unroolio

      You are in such bad shape that you need more help than God has to offer. Try and read more than just one book.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
      • Reality

        As requested, the studies used to prepare the updated Apostles' Creed:

        o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

        2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
        – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

        30-60 CE Passion Narrative
        40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
        50-60 1 Thessalonians
        50-60 Philippians
        50-60 Galatians
        50-60 1 Corinthians
        50-60 2 Corinthians
        50-60 Romans
        50-60 Philemon
        50-80 Colossians
        50-90 Signs Gospel
        50-95 Book of Hebrews
        50-120 Didache
        50-140 Gospel of Thomas
        50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
        50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
        65-80 Gospel of Mark
        70-100 Epistle of James
        70-120 Egerton Gospel
        70-160 Gospel of Peter
        70-160 Secret Mark
        70-200 Fayyum Fragment
        70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
        73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
        80-100 2 Thessalonians
        80-100 Ephesians
        80-100 Gospel of Matthew
        80-110 1 Peter
        80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
        80-130 Gospel of Luke
        80-130 Acts of the Apostles
        80-140 1 Clement
        80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
        80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
        80-250 Christian Sibyllines
        90-95 Apocalypse of John
        90-120 Gospel of John
        90-120 1 John
        90-120 2 John
        90-120 3 John
        90-120 Epistle of Jude
        93 Flavius Josephus
        100-150 1 Timothy
        100-150 2 Timothy
        100-150 T-itus
        100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
        100-150 Secret Book of James
        100-150 Preaching of Peter
        100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
        100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
        100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
        100-160 2 Peter

         4. Jesus Database, http://www.faithfutures.o-rg/JDB/intro.html –"The JESUS DATABASE is an online a-nnotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
        5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bis-sar24.htm
        6. The Jesus Seminar, http://en.wikipedia.o-rg/wiki/Jesus_Seminar
        7. http://www.biblicalartifacts.com/items/785509/item785509biblicalartifacts.html – books on the health and illness during the time of the NT
        8. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.
        9.The Gn-ostic Jesus
        (Part One in a Two-Part Series on A-ncient and Modern G-nosticism)
        by Douglas Gro-othuis: http://www.equip.o-rg/articles/g-nosticism-and-the-g-nostic-jesus/
        10. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
        Presented on March 18, 1994
        11. The Jesus Database- newer site:
        12. Jesus Database with the example of S-u-pper and Eucharist:
        13. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:
        13. http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/jesus.htmm- Historical Jesus Studies
        14. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
        15. D-iseases in the Bible:

        16. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
        theologians, ethics, etc.

         17. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
        18. Writing the New Testament- e-xisting copies, o-ral tradition etc.
        19. JD Crossan's c-onclusions about the a-uthencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the c-onclusions of other NT e-xege-tes in the last 200 years:
        20. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
        21. Luke and Josephus- was there a c-onnection?
        22. NT and beyond time line:
        23. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
        24. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
        25. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
        27. The books of the following : Professors Gerd Ludemann, Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
        28. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
        29. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

        August 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  18. Doc Vestibule

    The two guidance counselllors at one of the high schools I attended were named Penny Hoo/ker and Micheal Hunt.
    Some parents are just plain stupid.

    Shoud Nicholas Cage be forced to rename his son? Kal-El should be reserved only for The Last Son of Krypton!

    August 12, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  19. Colin

    A decision based directly and entirely on the Judge's religious belief is clearly unconst.ituional. This is not even hard. I see Tennessee hasn't gone very far forward since the Scopes trial.

    August 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Stereotype Bigotry Galore

      Qui judging an entire state by what one Child Support Magistrate has done.

      August 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Johnny

        As a resident of the state of Tennessee I can attest to the fact that a majority of the residents of the state have not come very far since the Scopes Trial.

        August 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Saraswati

          Ah yes, the state that formally declared evolution 'controversial' last year. If the state wants respect they're going to have to earn it. Whining doesn't change anyone's mind. The majority in TN don't support modern biology, physics or psychology. The place needs to earn the world's respect.

          August 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • Johnny

          They also passed a law that states you can't mention gay people in schools.

          August 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • Saraswati

          I don't even visit these backwards states any more. I have no desire to see my money supporting communities that act so despi cably..

          August 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  20. Colin

    I guess all of those hispanics called "Jesus" will have to be renamed "James."

    August 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Southern Christians will push to have them renamed "Judas" you mean... then they will ask them for the 30 pieces of silver as payment to become a citizen...

      August 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • KingofKings

      No, Santiago is Spanish for James.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • Athy

        Santiago means Saint James. Jaime means James.

        August 13, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • jhonny ausemkock

      Wow. You are every bit a stupid as she is. Just....wow. Did you think that up all by yourself?

      August 12, 2013 at 8:17 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.