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. Sharon

    This Judge is a nut case, the most she should have done is made the mother add the dad's name to the BC. If a woman wants child support then the father should be on the BC.

    August 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
  2. Matthew

    Fundies Do the Darndest Things

    August 13, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Tippy

      Boy do they.

      August 13, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  3. Sam Yaza

    your baby can not be named the following names because they are Messiahs,


    August 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Akira

      Well, shit, Sam. Too late.

      August 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  4. millie bjohnson

    I am a Christian, Never heard of this type of nonsense. Please lady, file and sue.I pray you get justice.. There are many children with that name. I pray you get to have your voice heard.......BLESSINGS

    August 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  5. Vic

    I humbly would like to set the record straight on a couple of points I came across in the news report video as well as the comment section that are not directly related to the subject matter.

    1. In the news report video, the reporter interpreted "Messiah" to be "God."

    The correct meaning of "Messiah" is "Christ" which means "The Anointed One."

    2. In the comment section, someone mentioned that "In God We Trust" was only adorned and added during the Cold War.

    The truth of the matter is that "In God We Trust" was adorned and used as a motto for currency since the 18th century. It was also adorned and included in the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner (The Full Version of the National Anthem of the United States of America) by Francis Scott Key. Then, in 1956, it was adorned and signed into law as the motto of the United States of America by President Eisenhower.

    August 13, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • Akira

      And this "Magistrate" blatently violated church and state by changing this child's name, and she should be sanctioned for trying to circumvent the Constitution.

      Address that.

      August 13, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Akira

      And "In God We Trust" as our motto until 1956, and didn't appear on paper money until 1957, even though it appear on a coin in the 1800's. You implied that it's been in continuous use since much earlier, and that's not true.
      The old motto should never have been replaced.


      August 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
      • Vic

        I said "currency" without specifying the type. I am not sure how you got that impression!

        August 13, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      isn't the old motto like "for we are one" or something varry pagan roman

      August 13, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
      • Maureen Mower

        It was "e pluribus unum".... which I believe means "from many, one", representing the diversity of people who came together in the "New World" to form the United States.

        August 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
        • Akira

          Yes, and I think it never should have been changed. The FF wanted the US to be secular.

          August 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
      • Vic

        "E Pluribus Unum" which means "From Many, One" was adopted as the official motto of the "Seal Of United States Of America" in 1782, and first appeared on currency in 1795 (18th Century,) but was not an official "National Motto."

        August 13, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
      • Observer

        "E Pluribus Unum" is what the United States is all about. From many, one. Our forefathers had sense enough to separate church and state. When they designed our seal, money, and stamps, they intentionally left religion out.

        August 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
        • Athy

          And wisely and rightfully so!!

          August 13, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      "One from many"

      sorry roman sucks I'm a sidh after all

      August 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
      • Akira

        E Plurbus Unum. (I think the sp is right...)

        August 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Portland tony

      Wrong on a few points......Messiah did not refer to Christ, but does come the Hebrew word refering to future Priests and Kings. And you are right about the original references to God in our nations history. ...."one nation UNDER GOD" was added to the Pledge of allegiance oath ion June 14, 1954 (Flag Day), President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law, officially adding the words "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance,

      August 13, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
      • EnjaySea

        Ah yes, when the Christian right sunk one more claw into its grip on our country. It was a great win for them too, since it served as a powerful form of indoctrination, of all the school children who have been reciting that garbage for decades on end.

        Luckily some of those children are waking up now, and realizing that they had been tricked into automatically accepting as truth, something that was slipped into their morning cool-aid.

        August 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          Sired EnjaySea...

          Who then are the common folk going to place their Life concerns in..? "Trust me" says mankind and what are their reasons to be trusted..? I have yet to find anyone in politics to resonate their faiths to give common mankind any reasons to trust any political person...

          August 13, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
        • EnjaySea

          You either trust each other, or you don't. That's a side issue.

          Making up an invented deity from outer space, then putting your confidence in this fictional character, isn't going to solve those trust issues you might have with our country, or our politicians.

          August 14, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
      • Vic

        I am not referring to the "Pledge Of Allegiance" but the "The National Motto Of United States Of America" which was signed into law by President Eisenhower in 1956, that is "In God We Trust" which originally was the motto for the currency of the United States and first appeared on coins in 1864 (19th Century.)

        Also, "In God We Trust" originated in the Star-Spangled Banner (The Full Version Of The National Anthem Of The United States Of America) by Francis Scott Key during the "War Of 1812."

        August 13, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
        • OTOH


          The Fugio Cent is the first official cent of the United States. It was designed by Benjamin Franklin. The motto on it is "Mind Your Business".

          We should have quit while we were ahead...

          August 13, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
        • Observer


          Let's get into reality. Francis Scott Key's line "in God is our trust" is an obscure part of our national anthem that few people have ever heard. His poem wasn't adopted for well over 100 years while we considered songs like "Hail Columbia" to be our "national anthem". An obscure part of his poem is far from national acceptance.

          August 13, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
        • Vic

          Not exactly. It was the intention of Francis Scott Key for "In God We Trust" to be the motto of the United States Of America.

          Here is the line:

          "And this be our motto: "In God is our trust.""

          August 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Fortunately your country had a few deeper thinkers than Francis Scott Key.

          August 13, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
        • Observer

          Vic ,

          Francis Scott Key didn't even write a song, he just wrote a poem. An old English drinking song was used for the music.
          He didn't intend for the poem to be used for our nation to set a national motto.

          What percentage of Americans do you think have ever heard that line?

          August 13, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Observer


      "The truth of the matter is that "In God We Trust" was adorned and used as a motto for currency since the 18th century."

      Wrong. The TRUTH of the matter is that "In God We Trust" was NOT on any currency in the 18th Century.

      The TRUTH is that probably NONE of the people who founded our new nation ever saw it on any coins or currency.

      Do research next time.

      August 13, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
      • Vic

        Well, that was a typo (on the go as usual.) I meant the 19th century. Sorry about that.

        August 13, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Athy

      Hm. No response from Vic. Not surprising.

      August 13, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
      • sam stone

        vic? run from critique?

        say it ain't so

        maybe he is the second coming of topher/gopher

        August 13, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
      • Athy

        Same modus operandi.

        August 13, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
      • Observer

        It would be nice to find ONE Christian with enough integrity to answer any questions. Everyone will tell you how to run your life, but none want to answer any tough questions about what the Bible actually says or what they actually believe.

        August 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
        • Athy

          Well, it's probably not gonna happen. Tells you something right there, doesn't it.

          August 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Sounds about right. It's what they're used to. After all, why should a believer answer tough questions when he can just run others' lives instead?

          August 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
        • Judge Mama June

          The tough questions...

          "I'll have to ask my pastor about that one......"

          August 15, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  6. Aimeejo

    Dont know if this can help her, its worth a try.

    August 13, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  7. prefectus101

    This woman should be disbarred, this is clearly an example of lack of separation of church and state. As well as a breach of the first amendment. People like this who abuse power are clearly not fit to judge.

    August 13, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  8. Bridget

    Since when did government tell us what we can and cannot name our children? Seems more and more or country has a problem with separation between church and government. Hope the parents appeal to the highest court.

    August 13, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  9. Portland tony

    Name your child Jesus, Messiah or Mohammed. Jesus is a very popular first name for men (#129 out of 1220) and also a very popular surname or last name for all people (#11359 out of 88799). Meanings and history of the name Messiah: from the Hebrew word "Mashiach" which means "Annointed One." In the Hebrew Scriptures, Mashiach was used of priests and kings, as well as a future leader who would be both priest and king. The Greek Scriptures are the story of Jesus, God's Messiah. "Messiah" is used today to refer to the leader or visionary of a cause or people group. Mohammed reclaimed its place as the most popular name for baby boys born in England and Wales in 2011. So what's up Judge? Read your history! Courtesy of "babynamewizard.com".

    August 13, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  10. Maureen Mower

    This judge is forgetting that the robe he/she is wearing is that of a civil servant and NOT of a priest. The only thing worse than this judge's incredibly poor judgment is whoever brought this case in front of the court in the first place. The article doesn't say WHY the court is involved in this baby's name at all. Did the hospital object? A family member? Just exactly why is anyone sticking their nose in this family's business?

    August 13, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Mary Frances O'Brien

      as i understand it, the case was brought before the court to settle the issue of the child's surname; the judge decided to address the 'issue' of the child's given name as well.

      August 13, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      it has to to with child support, my mother gave me the last name of the boyfriend she was dating because he was vary wealthy, not of my biological and step father she was richer then.

      August 13, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
      • Maureen Mower

        Such things are irrelevant today, as DNA tests can conclusively solve the issue of paternity, and there is no law or rule anywhere that says a child has to have the same surname as EITHER parent.

        As in my comment above (well, it will be there whenever the moderators get to it), I had to use a "carrot and stick" approach with my first, "deadbeat" husband when our son was born. The "stick" was that I gave my son the name of my grandfather because his father was a deadbeat with a gambling problem. The "carrot" was that if "Daddy" ever cleaned up his act and became a responsible father, we could change our son's name to his surname (keeping the first name). He never did.

        So my son can go through life being proud of the name he bears, as it represents a man who took care of his wife, his 8 children, and even his grandchild (me) all his life. That is far better than bearing the name of someone who was too selfish and irresponsible to provide for his own son.

        But no one (not hospital, court, school, doctors, Social Security, state vital records, or any other agency) ever challenged my right to give my son a surname that was not representative of EITHER of his birth parents – so I don't see why or how anyone had the right to do so in this case.

        August 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  11. Judy

    Outlawing one name doesn't make sense, how about the other names for "Christ". There are hundreds.

    August 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  12. Allie

    I am not one to judge anyone practicing a religion. I am not religious in any way, but I have heard enough of this religious church BS!

    No one should have the right to order a name to be changed (unless it is graphic language). How can there be so much power in a religious outcry?

    – A church can shut down a 5 year old's lemonade stand
    – preach sins when it is convenient like gay marriage but can play with a pig skinned football and get divorced
    – and now cry about Messiah as a name? What about all the other "biblocal" names? Are there issues with them too??

    Religion and courts do not belong together, this is a huge load of BS and it is such a shame for these parents. I hope they get the decision appealed and win!

    August 13, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Yes, we should keep all names "Biblocal" as opposed to "Bibregional".

      August 13, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  13. claudia

    Maybe they can make the parents change the childs name, but they can't stop them from calling him whatever they choose too. Although I think this name is inappropriate, I definitely do not agree with anyone telling a parent what to name their child. I would ask the parents to consider changing his name for his sake, NOT for any other reason. I hope they appeal, and I hope they win....then I hope they change his name.

    August 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • lamelionheart

      Sired Claudia... dare laudanum much..?

      August 13, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
      • Seth

        The meaning or sire(d)

        1. the male parent of a quadruped. 2. a respectful term of address, now used only to a male sovereign. 3. a person of importance or in a position of authority, as a lord.

        So why the hell are you calling Claudia sired? Have you taken too much laudanum (which I didn't even know was AROUND anymore) yourself?
        Implying SHE'S the one is on drugs is rich, seeing the way you mangle the English language.
        Buffoon. Pretentious, arrogant buffoon.

        August 13, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  14. Margaret Simon

    Spanish culture uses Jesus ? How can a name not be allowed?

    August 13, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  15. Portland tony

    Name your child Jesus, Messiah or Mohammad? Jesus is a very popular first name for men (#129 out of 1220) and also a very popular surname or last name for all people (#11359 out of 88799). Mohammed reclaimed its place as the most popular name for baby boys born in England and Wales in 2011.
    "Meanings and history of the name Messiah: (Edit from the Hebrew word "Mashiach" which means "Anointed One.") In the Hebrew Scriptures, Mashiach was used of priests and kings, as well as a future leader who would be both priest and king. The Greek Scriptures are the story of Jesus, God's Messiah." The judge is nuts?

    August 13, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
  16. skytag

    Several people have suggested this was appropriate because an odd name can cause a kid to suffer embarrassment growing up. To those people I would propose the following question: Exactly how much control 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?

    My dad was a career Army officer. When I was a kid, up until I was 12 years old and he was away for a year on tour of duty in Korea in 1967, every haircut I had was a short G.I. So while all the other boys were growing their hair out to reflect the culture of the sixties, I looked like I was in boot camp. God, how I hated it. But looking back I would never suggest the government should have had the power to tell my father how he could have my hair cut.

    For better or worse, our respect for individual freedom, including the rights of parents with regard to their children, is part of what it means to be American. Individual freedom, individual liberty, these things mean you have the freedom to make choices that may not reflect everyone's beliefs. If you think a boy should only be named David or William, fine, then that's what you should name your boys. But one small part of America's diversity is that we don't all have a name picked from a list of a few thousand names some government bureaucrat finds acceptable. That's just not our way.

    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 as well as the fact that just because you agree with one restriction like this doesn't mean you'd agree with every such restriction.

    August 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Athy

      Well said, Skytag.

      August 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      Well said.

      August 13, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  17. truthprevails1

    What is almost more disgusting than what this judge did is the people supporting her! I have to wonder how they would feel if they were this young mother having their rights taken.

    August 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • skytag

      I agree. I suspect their simple thinkers who haven't thought through what it means for individuals in government to have this kind of power based on their personal beliefs.

      August 13, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  18. bollocks

    I'm going to name my next child Big Shining Knob. Must keep things relevant.

    August 13, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  19. mady

    Kids shouldn't be named biblical names....a comment I just read. okay then lets take away all the "eve, john, noah" ect out of the list of names. Parents can name their kids whatever they want.

    August 13, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  20. opinionated1

    I knew separation of church and state was a lie...

    August 13, 2013 at 5:33 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.