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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. Rivera

    Hello, I agree with the judge that the baby should be name Martin and not Messiah. A name has a lot of power by itself and by association so the baby will have to face discrimination due to his race and his name. As a Puerto Rican woman of color I know the reality of racism in the states so it will be double the pressure to encounter major difficulties in life for baby Messiah. The parents are not taking into consideration the meaning of Messiah for believers in Jesus Christ and for Jews that are still waiting for their Messiah. I think the parents need to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually examine for illness and imbalance regarding their views on their baby.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Huh?

      So you think a judge has the right to tell you what you can name YOUR children? What are their names? I'll find a judge who will change them for you.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      It doesn't matter if the parents want to name the kid Jesus H. Christ. The judge does not have the power to do what he/she did.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Good thing the opinion of the general public doesn't matter here. This judge violated separation of church and state and should be reprimanded for doing so. I hope the parents are still calling the baby Messiah, in the end that will be his name anyways.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • skytag

      There's a big difference between believing parents shouldn't do something and the government not allowing it. The government isn't there to enforce the values of religious zealots.

      August 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
  2. Catherine

    So, is that judge going to tell the thousands of children named Jesus that they must change their names too?? Religion has absolutely NO business in a court decision.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  3. Gerry vesely

    Sooooo what if you are jewish. Does that religion not count. This judge needs to get out of Tennessee and see that the whole world is not christian.

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

    This is American....Name your child what you want!. Remove the judge. She is abusing her power.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  5. George O. Emmanuel

    I don't think u r right steve, because its all about our mind-set. Its always a systemic issue not to honour great men and women(social and spiritual leaders) in our generation...all because we see their other side.
    As for me, I respect and will continue to respect books authored by both category.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  6. Jean Thorne

    To the parents: please chose a name that everyone can pronounce and spell and be conscious of your surname and how they flow together – do this for your baby's sake – people can be very cruel

    August 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • CallOutAssHats

      Is it "jeen" as in the pants, or "zhahn" as in Jean Valjean? Your parents were cruel, maybe you should change your name to "Twit" – that's both easy to spell and pronounce.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  7. BillyD

    Yet, Tennessee is also a state that wanted to pass a law that said a judge couldn't use Sharia Law in their decisions. I can't remember if they actually passed the bill. Apparently, looking at the Bible as a source for a legal decision is ok though. Smh.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  8. Flora

    The US does not have laws governing the naming of children. Sometimes it might be a good idea (look at the names celebs have been picking for their kids), but it is totally up to the parents as to what their child shall be called. Parents should be aware of the verbal and mental abuse their child may have to endure due to the stupid name they chose, but they are free to name their child whatever they see fit.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  9. alexdane436

    Let these clowns name their future criminal what they want.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • flying spaghetti monster

      I like your moxy, internet racist!

      August 13, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Micheal

      Racism at it's finest!!!!!!!

      August 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
      • Dippy

        Its, not it's.

        August 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Marla Kinlaw

      I'd like to see how you came to the conclusion that this baby is going to be a criminal. Reason being, I'd like to see if you are going to respond with an intelligent answer..

      August 13, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  10. miraiordanescu

    OK...how about these names : Genius Thompson, Pope Fergusson, Cardinal Cooper, Prophet MacIntosh, Virgin Mary Nicholsson, Emperor Dickens, Tzar Lewiston....? do they sound OK ? because they are ALL LEGAL ???? Messiah is NOT a name...it is the supreme connotation in a given religion....How about Dalai Lama Pinckerton...they are all legal...and how about Adolf Richardson....Oh, well, may this boy be happy...but later on in life he will be picked on, bullied and mocked...there is also a matter of common sense...legal or not...and how about Saint Forbes....nothing illegal...There are some countries which have banned some names, in order to protect the children from the foolishness of their parents...http://news.sky.com/story/1085451/new-zealand-baby-name-ban-list-updated

    August 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • ME II

      Germany, among others is pretty strict on names

      n Germany, you must be able to tell the gender of the child by the first name, and the name chosen must not be negatively affect the well being of the child
      Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/25034/8-countries-fascinating-baby-naming-laws#ixzz2bsmhhDEo
      –brought to you by mental_floss!

      August 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Wendy

      There is a couple in NJ that had their children removed from their home by CPS for naming their children names like Adolf Hitler, Arian Nation, etc.. The father just recently had another child with another woman and is fighting the legal system to name that child some Nazi crap also.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • ME II

      Not sure if there was ever more accurate name.

      New Zealand rejected name: Sex Fruit
      http://mentalfloss.com/article/25034/8-countries-fascinating-baby-naming-laws

      August 13, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  11. NyB69

    Why can't they name their child Messiah? The government is too busy sticking its nose in places it never belonged. The judge had no right to bring her beliefs into a ruling. There is no law against naming your baby Messiah.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • skytag

      One dumb magistrate in Tennessee is not "the government."

      August 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  12. Anton

    Barrack Hussein Obama changed his name from Barry Soetoro. But there was already a Saddam Hussein.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • CallOutAssHats

      And you changed your name from Dick, but you are still one.

      August 13, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
      • sal4

        Best response of the day, for sure.

        August 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • skytag

      Sorry stupid, but his name is Barrack Hussein Obama, Jr.

      August 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  13. Michelle Franklin

    Parents have the right to name their child. This judge is out of line!!

    August 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  14. Elizabeth

    Why did a judge not stop Kardashian from naming her kid North West!!

    August 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  15. Shannon Leigh

    It really doesn't matter what a parent wants to name her child. It's her child. If the child doesn't like it, he can change it when he's older. This is ridiculous argument. Unfortunately, the government cannot legislate, judge, or enforce common sense.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  16. Jumpstar

    i think as a country we want too much control..what if she wanted to name the child something derogative.. then what would happen..probably nothing...and t his makes the News...we have biggere issues in this country.

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

      That's a reasonable question. Here's what http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/name-change-faq-29091.html says:

      There are some restrictions on what you may choose as your new name. Generally, the limits are as follows:

      You cannot choose a name with fraudulent intent - meaning you intend to do something illegal. For example, you cannot legally change your name to avoid paying debts, keep from getting sued or get away with a crime.
      Your new name cannot interfere with the rights of others, which generally is defined as choosing the name of a famous person with the intent to mislead. For example, most judges will not approve your renaming yourself George Bush or William (Bill) Clinton unless you have a convincing reason not related to the famous politicians.
      You cannot use a name that would be intentionally confusing. This might be a number or punctuation - for example, "10," "III," or "?." (Minnesota's Supreme Court once ruled that a man who wanted to change his name to the number "1069" could not legally do so, but suggested that "Ten Sixty-Nine" might be acceptable.)
      You cannot choose a name that is a racial slur.
      You cannot choose a name that could be considered a "fighting word," which includes threatening or obscene words, or words likely to incite violence.

      August 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  17. Darcy Heathcliff

    Bigotry... sheer bigotry.... I will not be surprised if what was offered as alternative is Lucifer or Demon...
    Messiah is not even a Christian words.. Its a jew for Savior.. anyone for that matter can represent a savior.
    The parents who think their child save their marriage can be named Messiah.
    Damned this Judge must be living in the Middle ages.

    August 13, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • mkds

      Nice way throw in the bigotry. It's not a "Jew" word... It would be considered Hebrew

      August 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  18. jeanne

    yikes!!! what country is this and what century?? how on earth does this subject belong in a court of law??

    August 13, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  19. Marqi

    That poor kid has no chance 😦 And, get a life Tennessee Judge. Why do you even Care? Your religion sucks anyway!

    August 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  20. theresa

    Child should be named whatever the parents want. It is NOT the judges decision

    August 13, 2013 at 3:35 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.