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. Les

    And here with additional insight are our panel...Moon Unit Zappa, Pilot Lee, Apple Paltrow, Kyd Duchovny, Sage Moonblood Stallone.....

    August 13, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  2. Sam Yaza

    what the fuck,.. i would like to see any judge ban me from naming my daughter Nemain. no that's it i order the judge to have every Child with the name Mórrígan to change their name that is a title only worthy of my ancestries, and those from long line of descendents from Macha the wife of Nuada no one can be named Mórrígan it is an affront to my faith, unless you are descendent of her

    August 13, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  3. bostontola

    Thanks Tennessee.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      You know the toothbrush was invented in Tennessee – anywhere else and it would have been called a teethbrush.

      August 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  4. Steve Finnell


    If you are searching for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, who and what are you going to consult? If you are looking for advice, information and instruction on how to be saved from sin and how to live the Christian life, where can you find God's inerrant truth.

    Are you going to consult books written by:
    Clement of Rome
    Irenaeus of Lysons
    Augustine of Hippo
    Polycarp of Smyrna
    Bishop Fulton Sheen
    Martin Luther
    John Calvin
    John Knox
    George Whitefield
    Charles "Chuck" Colson
    Cotton Mather
    Jerry Falwell
    Billy Graham
    John Piper
    Max Lucado
    Alexander Campbell
    T. D. Jakes
    Oral Roberts
    Dwight Moody
    Joesph Smith Jr.
    Mary Baker Eddy
    Charles Taze Russel
    Sun Myung Moon
    L. Ron Hubbard


    As for me I trust the book written by these men:

    I trust the book that was inspired by God.
    2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God....



    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. Google search>>>steve finnell a christian view

    August 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Duke

      Good point!

      August 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • sam

      Get out.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING STEVE? Just get over yourself already and grow up you petulant child.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • ME II

      @Steve Finnel,


      August 13, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • BU2B

      The awesome logic of a Christian.

      Christian: "My book was inspired by God."
      Atheist: "How do you know it was inspired by 'God'?"
      Christian: "My book said it was."

      August 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        You mean an exasperated Christian confusedly sputters "My book said it was." because they can't get their tiny brains around why anyone would challenge their book... I mean, it was the book everyone was told was true from childhood, right? Didn't everyone grow up in a middle income white protestant faily from the mid-west?... didn't they?...

        August 13, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Johnny

      I doubt Moses even existed. He certainly didn't lead the Jews out of Egypt since they were never there to begin with.

      August 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Heritage

      Penn Jillette
      Gavrilo Princip
      Lance Armstrong
      Jared Lee Loughner

      August 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • Mom

        The Brothers Grimm
        Hans Christian Anderson
        Charles Perrault
        Mother Goose
        Dr. Seuss

        August 13, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
        • Heritage

          Joseph Stalin
          Nasser and Prokofiev
          Communist Bloc
          Roy Cohn
          Juan Peron
          Dien Bien Phu Falls
          Rock Around the Clock
          James Dean
          Brooklyn's got a winning team
          Davy Crockett
          Peter Pan
          Elvis Presley
          Princess Grace
          Peyton Place
          Trouble in the Suez

          We didn't start the fire
          It was always burning
          Since the world's been turning
          We didn't start the fire
          No we didn't light it
          But we tried to fight it

          August 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
        • sam

          LOL The song started playing in my head before I got 4 names in.

          August 13, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Yvonne

      I decline your invite sir!

      August 13, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Joseph

      You DO realize that the "christian bible" was not what it is today, with out certain people like Martin Luther, who translated the book from Latin, into other languages like German and French so "regular" people could look at the teachings as you said, instead of groveling and paying money to the "Church". How about the fact the Bible, as it is now, was also formed by "Men" who ran the Roman Empire in the end when the "Last Emperor in Constantinople" was dying and became christian? So Men picked which gospels was to be the Bible? Maybe you should re work your thinking a bit on the history of the bible, Christianity, and such before you blast some for their views.... By the way, I am christian. I just know the facts behind my own faith...

      August 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • skytag

      More evidence religion makes people stupid. In this case, really stupid. Just for starters:

      "I trust the book that was inspired by God."

      You believe the Bible was inspired by God. Muslims believe the Koran was inspired by God. Pretty much any writings held to be sacred in any religion would be considered inspired by God by people in that religion.

      There is no God. That's why there are thousands of religions.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  5. Melenated boy

    So a mexican can call himself "Jesus" but soon a black child is named after a God who is black according to the bible..The man shakes..He cant stand to see a black child associated in any kind of way with the Lord. Black people wake up.

    August 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Myelinated human

      Didn't think it had anything to do with race. Good luck with that though.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      If you are trying to say you have "Melanin" pigment in your skin then you are like most other animals on the planet. It is the verying degrees of melanin that determine how dark the skin might be. Only spiders and albinos have no melanin.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  6. Really?

    How ignorant of this mother, the irony being she didn't know the meaning of the name until the judge told her?!?! On top of that , with three children and no husband she is now running behind courts to appeal the name without taking care of the three children? Woman, where are your priorities? You began with a name which you were clueless as to what it meant to begin with, the only reason you chose this name was it sounded better alongside his siblings name? really?

    August 13, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Suit

      THe mother didnt say she didn't know what the word messiah meant. She said she didn't pick it because it means "god" - meaning she picked it for a different reason. Learn some reading comprehension skills before you start calling other people ignorant.

      August 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  7. flying spaghetti monster

    Also, almost every single name can be made fun of. Kids are ingenious little jerks like that. And if it isn't the kid's name, it would be something else - if bullies want to pick on a kid, they'll find some way to do it, whether the kid's name is messiah tootifruits or john smith.

    August 13, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  8. Winny

    From what I have read, none of you have addressed the problems of what that child may go through as it grows up. Children can be cruel and they will be. I believe this is just a way for the mother to get attention otherwise she would not put her child in this situation. Freedom is not the issue here, it is about the child's well being and self-esteem. My husband named our daughter Tenya...a pretty name, BUT throughout her school life, people were surprised she was not black. A judgement-yes, but it is what people do.

    August 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Johnny

      I don't find Tenya to be any better than Messiah.

      August 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      I guess you've never heard the story of a boy named Sue...

      August 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • ME II

      I agree that Messiah is an idiotic name for a child, but that's on the parents not the judge I don't think and there are worse names, e.g. Blanket Jackson, Seven Sirius Benjamin, Zowie Bowie, Kal-El Coppola Cage, and the classic Moon Unit Zappa.

      August 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
      • Johnny

        I bet Kal-El only wishes his last name wasn't Cage.

        August 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
      • skytag

        Yeah, but none of those names offend the mythical Jesus.

        August 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
        • ME II

          It's difficult to offend any mythical being.

          August 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Johnny

          According to their followers most mythical beings are easily offended.

          August 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
        • ME II

          Good point. Although that would only be a mythical offense, correct.

          August 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • skytag

      Actually, several people have commented on it, but it's not germane to the article. The issue here isn't the advisability of give kids unusual names, but whether the government should control what names you can give your child. They are completely separate issues. I hope Tenya grows up to be smarter than her mom.

      August 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • sam

      He'll likely have a nickname during his school years, and if he gets tired of it later on, he has the option to change it.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  9. flying spaghetti monster

    Okay, this place is a ghost town today, what happened? How about this: what's the stupidest name you ever heard? I think for me, it was a girl I met named Jynx.

    August 13, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      How about the woman that named her twins Orangejello and Lemonjello because that's what she craved during her pregnancy.

      Pronounced: or-Onj-ello & le-Monj-ello

      August 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
      • Mom

        Yikes! I would have had to name one of mine Marinated Artichoke Hearts!

        August 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
      • ME II

        Jello shots? ... oh wait "during" pregnancy not cause of pregnancy, got it.

        August 13, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • Suit


        seriously? damn you people are racist.

        August 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
      • ME II

        Thanks for the link, but the description above neither 1) mentioned the race of the mother nor 2) claimed it was a mistaken understanding or pronunciation of other words.

        August 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Actual names. First & Last

      Rusty Pipes
      Eye Flutter
      Eye Lash
      Rosetta Stone
      Sandy Beach
      Rhoda Broom
      Pat Fenis
      Polly Esther
      Ima Gay
      Seymour Butt
      Joy Rider
      Justin Case
      Neva Faithful
      Bonk Register
      Booby Ogle
      Wanton Coward
      Plegm Click

      Some parents are just plain cruel.

      August 13, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • Mom

        Locally, we have:

        Dick Schmuck
        Dick Peters
        Bob Peters
        Jack Peters
        ... and a guy with the last name of Ogle, who has been convicted of felony possession of child po.rnography, peeping, prowling, eavesdropping, and who continues to offend.

        August 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Athy

        How about the guy who was named Jack Shit. He hated that name for years, so he finally went to a judge and changed it to Joe Shit.

        August 13, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  10. Johnny

    With a name like Lu Ann, she probably wishes someone had made her parents give her a different name.

    August 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  11. Moral of the story!

    Don't go to family courts to settle disputes relating to your baby's name, settle it amicably between your baby daddy and yourself!

    August 13, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • willy wonka

      Why do people have babies together if they can't decide on a name for their baby???

      August 13, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • ME II

      Hear! Hear!

      August 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • ME II

        That was at 'Moral of the Story'

        August 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • His Holiness

      The bigger question is , why do people procreate out of wedlock?

      August 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        I know this is a shot in the dark as i'm just guessing here... but I think it has something to do with how good pro-creating feels, though with some of you i'm sure it's more of an amature-creating moment but still feels good...

        August 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
      • skytag

        Two bigger questions are:

        – Given how many marriages end in divorce, why do some people think getting married is such an obvious thing to do?

        – Why do people ask such clueless questions?

        August 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
      • Johnny

        Defective condoms?

        August 13, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • Johnny

        I take that back, it is obviously Satan's fault.

        August 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
      • ME II

        The bigger question is who came up with the crazy idea of wedlock? Procreation is obvious and instinctual – wedlock, not so much.

        August 13, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Akira

      In my state, if the father is ordered to pay child support, the father is entitled to have his last name on the birth certificate, and it has to be sanctioned by a court order.
      That is if, of course, the baby had the mother's last name put on the BC at birth, if the parent's are not married at the time the child is born.

      August 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  12. Mrs. Bennett

    I have first-hand experience with the name, my nephew is named Messiah and we reside in New York state. I often wonder if I truly understand the fact that in government there is supposed to be a seperation of church and state because it seems there is less of a divide these days. I'll tell you this, I am an American and there would be no earthly way anyone would be able to get me change my child's name if I didn't want to. They can kick rocks!!!

    August 13, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  13. Colin

    Let's hope no child comes before her who has been disobedient to his parents, because Mosaic Law requires that he be put to death.

    August 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  14. kcv

    This is a disgrace, this judge should be removed...she's proving that she can't make a judgement without her religious beliefs! If this judge was Muslim, America would be up in arms over this story right now. Then to order her to name him "Martin" the mothers last name also is uncalled for, this woman wasn't a criminal who neglected her child...she has the right to name the baby whatever she wants (sadly, that includes some rather sick and sad names)!

    August 13, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Vic

      One of the paramount attributes of the United States is that it is the "land of second chances."

      Even if the judge made a mistake, you don't totally dismiss her. Instead, you give her a chance to fix the mistake. Trust me, that goes a long way, much longer than removing her!

      August 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • Johnny

        As a resident of TN the only way she can fix this mistake is to resign.

        August 13, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • ME II

        ...the "land of second chances."

        First I've heard of that. While that may often be the case, it isn't a "paramount" attribute of the US.

        August 13, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • Jay

        ...and how many second chances does she hand out daily? Don't worry... I'll wait.

        August 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
      • skytag

        This was an egregious failure in judgment. She needs to removed or at the least reprimanded to ensure other people in her position understand that letting their religious beliefs influence their rulings is unacceptable.

        August 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Vic


      The parents of this child went to Child Support Court on purpose to settle their dispute over the last name. They were not forced to appear before the court by anybody. The first name issue came up in the process.

      August 13, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
      • Akira

        And the first name was never0in dispute0 until this "judge" overstepped her bounds. At the very least, she needs to retake some basic Constitutional law classes, and every one of her decisions revisited to see where else, if any, she violated separation of church and state.

        There ISN'T any excuse for this, Vic.

        August 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
        • Akira

          Don't know why the random zeros appeared.

          August 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
        • ME II

          In your comment... or on this blog in general?

          August 13, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • Vic

          The first name was never in dispute by the parents, and came up in the process by the judge. That's right.

          August 13, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
        • Johnny

          Since the name was never in dispute by the parents the judge had no reason to change it. To not see this one would have to be brain dead.

          August 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • dondi

          ME II: yep.

          Vic. As the child's first name wasn't in dispute, she had no business even looking at what it was. She noticed it, didn't like it, (as is her right) and changed it, (which WASN'T her right.)

          Are you really that obtuse as to the meaning of such an act? Really?

          August 13, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
        • Akira

          ME II: I'll let you decide. Both are applicable, unlike this judge's blatant misuse of the law.

          Vic, she shouldn't have even considered the first name, as that wasn't the reason they were in court. Would you agree if their last name had been Messiah she had the right to arbitrarily change the name that wasn't in dispute?
          She needs to limit herself to a) the scope of the case, in which the first name was agreed upon by both parents, and b) the scope of what the Constitution lets her do legally. She did neither.

          You, and she, are WRONG.

          August 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • skytag

          @Johnny: "To not see this one would have to be brain dead."

          Vic can't see it. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

          August 13, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  15. ME II

    "Ill. man changes name to 'In God We Trust'"

    August 13, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Great idea

      August 13, 2013 at 11:54 am |
  16. Rundvelt

    This is what happens when you elect judges instead of actually getting qualified ones.

    August 13, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • Ken

      Judges, and sheriffs too. That system basically creates the redneck, corrupt Dukes of Hazzard image people have of rural America.

      August 13, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • A Frayed Knot

        Very true. I'm not sure if this type of judge is elected, though. In my state, they are appointed. We can only hope that somehow, someday rational thought will prevail.

        August 13, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
        • A Frayed Knot

          p.s. Well, make that "hope", with a generous amount of speaking up about realism.

          August 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  17. skytag

    I kind of miss the days when I didn't realize how embarrassing it could be sometimes to be an American.

    August 13, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  18. TheVocalAtheist

    It is no one's business or right to intervene into a parent's decision to name their children. This is typical of the southern right wing, always seeking to put a little more of their God into the public. Attempting to remove our freedom of choice. This is totally so wrong.

    August 13, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  19. Rynomite

    Mythologist sounds like a good name.

    August 13, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  20. Helena

    May God have Mercy on you. Neo

    August 13, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • tallulah13

      Isn't Neo that guy from the Matrix?

      August 13, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Neo is The One. Neo is the god of the Matrix, we're in the Matrix ergo Neo is our God.

        August 13, 2013 at 10:20 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Well, technically The Architect is the god of the Matrix, but let's not get too pedantic.

          August 13, 2013 at 10:22 am |
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About this blog

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.