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. d

    This is the most absurd thing I have heard in a very long time!!! This woman has the right to name her child whichever she chooses to name him and that judge I suspect will be removed from her post. Since she is only a magistrate it is clear that she does not know the law, or she would not have placed the county and state that she resides in such a difficult legal position. She may also want to remove the 10 commandments from her wall as those are also not allowed when on state owned property. Separation of church and state is still alive and well or at least as far as I know. I am a christian I believe in God and Jesus, but I will NOT push my views on another person and that is not allowed here in our country. This is really sick and demented and I hope for the parents sake some resolution comes quickly as they do not appear to have a lot of money to throw around in legal fees. Maybe a nice attorney will see this an give them some help probono

    August 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      It is refreshing to hear from a Christian that actually understands the US Consti.tution! You are a patriot my friend.

      August 15, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  2. Dean

    There is only ONE Messiah and His name is Jesus Christ... It is pointless to give a child a Biblical name when the partents are not living for God to set godly examples that will correlate with the name chosen...

    August 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • d

      You have got to be kidding me right???? I hope you are kidding....you sound sooooooo ridiculous!!! In this country we are given certain freedoms and of those freedoms naming our child whatever we choose is one of them. If that was the case then I think that Gweneth Paltro should not be able to name her kid apple because we all know who Granny Smith is....that is very illogical and irrational thoughts to have sir. In our country separation of church and state exists for a reason. Most things until recently did not even adorn the words such as...in God we trust....etc....it was not until the cold war when that was added to make it clear that we have no part in communism....You may want to learn your history....your first lesson I just gave you was free!!!

      August 13, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
      • Athy

        A good lesson, d, but I got a feeling Dean didn't get it.

        August 13, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Wowzers, good thing your belief is not what laws are based off of. The judge clearly violated the rights of the parents here.
      Welcome to the 21st century where people don't follow biblical law in a secular country.

      August 13, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      Troll alert.

      You mean you're not a troll and you're serious?!

      Hoo boy.

      August 13, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • Sandra

      Just curious, how do you know the parents are not living up to name? It doesn't really tell us anything about the family at all. Sounds like a pedestrian and unfounded comment...

      August 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Much like most, if not all, pro-religious comments.

        August 13, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • skytag

      Do members of the American Christian Taliban have membership cards or do you all just recognize each other on sight?

      August 13, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • sam stone

      "godly examples"?

      the humor is enhanced when i reflect that you actually believe that tripe

      August 13, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  3. James L

    This is the perfect reason why Religion should be left out of Government. Separation of Church and State. Reminds of Romeo and Juliet. What's Messiah? it is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O, be some other name. What's in a name?......

    August 13, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  4. Marla Neusel

    The judge is wrong. The parents can name their child whatever they want.

    August 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  5. Lisa Smith-Elyea

    What I'd like to know is WHY did this naming issue go before a court of law? And this is not Nazi Germany. Parents can name their baby ANYTHING THEY WANT!

    August 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      The issue that was before the court had nothing to do with the babies first name, it was the parents trying to have the court decide on what surname to use.

      August 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
      • Dippy

        Baby's, not babies.

        August 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Thank you. I bitch at others for bad spelling, I should know better.

          August 13, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • skytag

          "Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." — Eleanor Roosevelt

          "Tiny minds discuss people's typos." — skytag

          August 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        • Dippy

          It wasn't a typo. It was a misspelled word.

          August 13, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
      • skytag

        @Dippy: "It wasn't a typo. It was a misspelled word."

        It was a typo of the homonym variety. He spelled "babies" correctly, he just accidentally used a homonym for "baby's" instead of the correct form. This is fairly common in online forums where people are typing up responses quickly, and in this forum it can be frustrating to make mistakes like this because there's no way to correct them. People who correct this kind of stuff mostly just end up looking like jerks.

        August 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
  6. sage

    people name there kids other names out the bible all the time.........hell a mexican i know is named jesus if you dont pronounce it rite lol

    August 13, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Athy

      Isn't he named Jesus no matter how you pronounce it?

      August 13, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
      • sage

        It's pronounced hay-SOOS (with the accent in the 2nd syllable) dwn there but we up here say jesus

        August 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
        • Athy

          Wrong. Mexican Jesus (pronounced hey=SOOS) is a Spanish name. Use the Spanish pronunciation rules. This certainly applies here in Southern California where we have many Mexican people named Jesus. My gardener for one and my handyman for another. The name of the purported son of god is not of Spanish origin, so Spanish rules don't apply. Why is this concept so difficult for you?

          August 13, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Dippy

      Their, not there.

      August 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  7. Stefenie

    The judge is completely out of line. Religious beliefs of another should not weigh in in a personal, private matter of naming one's child. Absolutely ridiculous.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  8. Kev

    The Nazis told people what they could and could not name their children.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  9. ME II

    ME II
    Not sure if there was ever a more accurate name.

    New Zealand rejected name: Sex Fruit

    August 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  10. Liz

    This is a case of church and state. Maybe this mother wants her son to have a name that he can be proud of and set a standard for Godly living. I think this judge is out of line. She has no right to issue a judgment for a mother to change her baby's name. I know a woman who named her children King, Boss and Queen. Should she change their names? It's a parents preference. This judge is putting her own personal religious beliefs ahead of the law and the freedoms this country stands for.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  11. WASP

    a few questions for the judge:
    1) prove jesus was real.
    2) prove jesus had magical powers.
    3) prove jesus was a demi-god.

    if you can't prove any of these, then don't tell me i can't use "messiah" as a name. 🙂

    August 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • Kev

      Bravo to you WASP!! It is becoming more and more annoying to watch people abuse their positionsin the name of a fairy tale.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Teresa

      I think the next baby to come before her in court should get hizzer name changed to "Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew Is An Incompetent B00b."

      August 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Oggie

      1) shut
      2) your
      3) trap

      August 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
      • Typical Christian

        Yeah, Shut Up. I only like to hear the opinions of people I agree with.

        August 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
        • sage

          actually no in mexico they say it (hey sus) but to usa its jesus

          August 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
        • Oggie

          1) I
          2) am
          3) Jewish

          August 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Teresa

          I don't care what religion you are; you're annoying. Shut the fuck up yourself, putz.

          August 13, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  12. GoJo

    No one has the right to impose their religious beliefs on anyone. Therefore, no one has the right to object to a baby's name on religious grounds.
    The judge is a bigot, and should be disbarred. Case closed.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Typical Christian

      As a Christian in America I have the right to impose my beliefs on everyone. If they don't like it then I am being persecuted.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
      • Lisa Smith-Elyea

        Couldn't agree with you more! This judge is obviously a religious zealot and incompetent to judge others on ANYTHING!

        August 13, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Liz

      I AGREE TOTALLY!!!! It's clearly an abuse of position.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  13. Akilia

    didn't the parents of a toddler named adolf hitler just have their children removed? i believe it started because the supermarket refused to print hitler on the cake...

    August 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Teresa

      Doesn't matter. Bad taste isn't illegal.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Yes..."A self-proclaimed Nazi dad and his wife cannot have back their four children, three of whom have Nazi-inspired names, a court has ruled.

      Adolf Hitler Campbell, six, and his younger sisters Joycelynn Aryan Nation, five, and Honszlynn Hinler, four, were taken into custody in January 2009.

      State officials also took another son, Hons Campbell, from his parents Heath and Deborah Campbell just hours after he was born in November."


      August 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
      • sam

        Oh man, there was plenty more than just the naming that was going wrong in that house.

        August 13, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  14. Haqjo.com

    this is called freedom of expression huh why ?

    August 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  15. Kev

    Lu Ann Ballew thinks she speaks for the imaginary invisible man in the sky. FRAUD!

    August 13, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  16. DamnTexan

    Where are these judges when parents are coming up with ridiculous names: ABCDE (absadee) BHEEUTYPFUL (beautiful) Lamaranaqueshiana ( cant even pronounce) Devil, Rooster Governs.....shall I go on....work in medicine and we get the dumbest damn names and spellings you have ever seen! Messiah? I could care less...its actually a nice name – what if she pronounced it different to the judge – like, lets say – Jesus (HeySoos)....would that make it better? Think there are bigger fish to fry and better laws to be tackled than this.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Athy

      You could care less.. or you couldn't care less. Which is it. You have me confused. Or maybe it's you who is confused.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Lamaranaqueshiana

      My name is awesome!! So what if I can't even spell it myself!!

      August 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  17. Tracy

    This is crazy...this judge has no right to tell anyone what they can or cannot name their child...

    August 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  18. Scott

    No matter how dumb a decision the government can not tell someone to not use a religious name. For these parents it might just be a name they find appropriate to them. This may be THEIR Messiah. Look at the definition according to the thefreedictionary.com expecially number 3:
    1. (Non-Christian Religions / Judaism) Judaism the awaited redeemer of the Jews, to be sent by God to free them
    2. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) Jesus Christ, when regarded in this role
    3. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) an exceptional or hoped for liberator of a country or people
    Maybe they feel this new child liberated them from a life of crime or substance abuse. Who knows but that name meant something to them and they don't have to agree with what it means to everyone else.

    August 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  19. winnie

    I think the judge was right

    August 13, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Huh?

      How ridiculous! My favorite bear has that name, you will have to change yours.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • KM

      You're in need of therapy.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Good thing that it doesn't matter what you think, only what the Consti tution says on the matter. The judge was wrong and should be fired.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Kev

      Winnie, you will now be known as Gertrude. All I think of is a cartoon bear that eats honey-and I can't have that.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      How about the judge step on your rights as a parent to name your child what you wish?? I'm guessing you wouldn't be so agreeable at that point.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Oggie

      I know the judge was right. And the mother was wrong and has been corrected. The American way is not dead... yet.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        The judge violated this woman's constitutional rights. You're a moron if you can't see that.

        August 13, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
        • Oggie

          The woman has no right to offend the judge.

          August 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • skytag

      Are you just trolling or are you one of the very small percentage of people who is stupid enough to think that way?

      August 13, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • sam stone


      August 13, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  20. miles

    even though the judge is legally off-line to suggest some names aint right but i think its in the best interest of the child to have decent names. For example i can name my child dick-head but while i enjoy the right to choose names it aint for the child. This kind of a name can affect child for the whole life. In conclusion i think its the duty of the state to protect kids from such future embarrassment

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

      Seriously? So all those named Jesus or Mohammed should change their names? Miles – what kind of name is that? Do you have 5,280 feet?

      August 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
      • Oggie

        I suggest "Mark" or "Matthew" for the boy.

        August 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Shawna

      I agree and kids can be cruel to each other.

      There's enough bullying going on these days without parents setting their kid up for it before even hitting kindergarten by their RIGHT to name their child whatever they feel like.

      What about the CHILD'S RIGHTS here? Having a name many will taunt the child over is abusive and selfish on the part of the parents and those who agree parents should name their kids whatever the heck they feel like.

      August 13, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
      • Rich


        August 13, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        Maybe if parents learned to parent we'd see less school yard bullies. The name is a moot point. Bullies don't care too much who they pick on, they will always find a victim.

        August 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
      • skytag

        You have to be really arrogant to believe it's your place to decide what parents can and can't name their children. Exactly how much influence should the government have in the area of protecting children from their parents' bad tastes? Should we regulate haircuts and clothing as well, or what you can pack in their lunches?

        If you think it's government's place to protect kids from anything a parent might do that could cause them embarrassment I think you need to think about the repercussions of that a little longer.

        August 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
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