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. Sean

    She should be able to name her child whatever she wants. There is no law with a list of names you can't name your child. No one should be legally allowed to force their beliefs on anyone.

    August 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  2. Victoria

    Looks like she ( this judge ) got what she wanted...Her 15 mins of fame...

    August 14, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  3. AS

    So this gentile judge thinks that she has the right to decide who or what is meant by the term 'Messiah?' That is so offensive. As far as I'm concerned, as a Jew, Christ was not the messiah, and this bigoted silliness is absurd. If people can call Christ the Messiah despite the fact that he met very few requirements to be the Messiah, these parents can name their kid Messiah. Also, there are kids names Jesus, and CHRISTopher, so what's the issue? Oy vey.

    August 14, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • really?

      Really, you are so arrogant.

      August 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
      • Really

        What was arrogant about that? He presented his countering view in a pretty reasonable manner.

        August 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Well said, AS.

      August 14, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • David

      Christopher and Christian mean like christ as in trying to become as pure hearted and a follower of God like Christ.

      August 15, 2013 at 9:30 am |
      • Sara

        Chris alone is very popular as both a given name and nickname. Essentially that is just calling someone Christ. Not a problem to put this on a birth certificate?

        August 15, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Ken

      You're right about Jesus failing to fulfill the key messianic predictions. The fact that he died on a cross, which is the same as being hung from a tree in the Jewish scriptures, would have disqualified him. Christians had to twist what his message was into salvation by grace in order to get around this, thus missing the point of his teaching altogether.

      August 15, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
  4. Saraswati

    Interestingly, in an informal survey, the most hated baby names in 2011 were as below. But really this was a survey of names most complained about.


    Nevaeh ("Heaven" spelled backward and one of the most divisive names around, according to Wattenberg.)
    Destiny (People dislike names that confer a virtue onto a child, Wattenberg said — and many felt associated this name with exotic dancers.)
    Addison (An example of a masculine named turned feminine, which many people dislike, Wattenberg said)
    Gertrude (People said this name is "ugly.")
    Kaitlyn (For its "made-up" spelling.)

    Kaden (These rhyming names struck many as overdone, Wattenberg reported.)
    Hunter (Too much like a last name or "too violent.")
    Bentley (People dislike brand-name names, Wattenberg found, calling them "trashy")
    Michael (Too boring, according to some.)

    August 14, 2013 at 7:04 am |
    • Akira

      I know a Madison, Addison, Kaitlyn, Hope; a Jayden, Kaden, Aidan, Hunter, several Michaels, (this remains a popular name) and a Jackson.

      August 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  5. Ehcraven

    Ha ha ha. Lived in Tennessee twice. It's a laugh riot what people think and do there. Really, hilarious

    August 14, 2013 at 2:13 am |
  6. Gwen

    That judge should not be holding court if he doesn't know that this country has separation of church and state.

    August 14, 2013 at 12:15 am |
  7. Justin in Cali

    This is America! You have the right to name your child whatever you want! Judges have no right to consider their religions beliefs when ruling!

    August 13, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
  8. Patricia Law

    Good God! Only in Tennessee would this happen. Who cares what someone names a child? If the child doesn't like the name, they can have it changed when they grow up.

    August 13, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Actually, in France a few years ago a magistrate ruled against the name Jennifer for a child.

      August 13, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
      • Athy

        Does that mean something objectionable in French?

        August 13, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          No, he just called it bizarre, which in French simply means strange.

          August 13, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
      • Ron T

        But that is France. France is one of many countries that don't allow certain names. Iceland is another. There is no such law in the US nor should there be. If a parent wants to name a kid something stupid it is entirely within their rights as parents. Look at what Frank Zappa called his kids or what Kanye called his.....

        August 14, 2013 at 2:38 am |
        • Andrew

          I know Nikki Sixx named his son Gunner, always thought it was an odd name but I've met more than one, which was weird. (Gunner was in my brother's class in elementary school, for the record, I am not particularly a fan of Motley Crue.) I'm willing to bet even North, though especially cruel considering Kanye's last name, is also not too unheard of.

          Hell, even Messiah probably exists somewhere else. People name their kids weird things. I was talking to a caterer yesterday who was named Link. "Yeah my parents were hippies". They hear every possible nickname as children, but eventually, you just learn to become jaded with names.

          August 14, 2013 at 4:58 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          So on forma and application it will appear as Sixx Gunner? How very second amendment.

          August 14, 2013 at 9:24 am |
      • Saraswati

        Do you have a link to this story? I couldn't find it.

        August 14, 2013 at 7:07 am |
  9. Red diaper baby

    What do you expect from a judge named Lu Ann? Her husband is probably called Jim Bob (Bubba to his friends). I hope these parents do appeal...she'll be a laughing-stock.

    August 13, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
  10. Donnie

    Who does this judge think he is... This is the USA not Russia!!! Name the baby God almighty if she wants!!

    August 13, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • PennyK

      It's a woman judge. Only one woman would dare try to tell another woman what to name her kid.

      August 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  11. Holly in CA

    According to the white pages there are other people in the United States named Messiah. Surely it's not a great name for a baby but we do live in a free country.

    August 13, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Athy

      Well, maybe it'll become a popular boy's name. How do other names become popular? Usage!!

      August 13, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
  12. getreddynow

    Jesus Christ, maybe she should find a good Joseph before having any more kids. Welfare is so devilish.

    August 13, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
  13. lamelionheart


    August 13, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  14. Shaliala

    It is not against the Laws of Yahweh to name your child Messiah. It is not a sin. This judge is leaning upon her own extremely limited understanding. She is trying to force her will on this family. Also, she is breaking the very rules that she claims to uphold.

    August 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      What are the Laws of Yahweh? What is Yahweh?

      August 13, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  15. Neo Agnostic

    Due to recent events, I am no longer an Atheist. I've moved to Agnostic.
    Thank you for your time

    August 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Top 10 influential people

      Your welcome!
      That change shifted the earth's axis!

      August 13, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
      • Top 10 influential people

        You're not Your

        August 13, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Athy

      Just be both. That way you can't possibly be wrong.

      August 13, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Sam

      Were you a theist before you were an atheist?

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

      What recent events? Head injury? Hearing voices? Amazing coincidence? Inquiring minds want to know.

      August 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • lamelionheart

      Stirring up a hornets nest are we..? Just look how many are willing to sting you and your changing way...

      August 13, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • jancosgrove1945

      A-gnostic = "not knowing". A very respectable and humble term for a person. A-theist, says there is no god, theist says there is. Not proven either way. Welcome to a growing communion. We are honest and we do not claim to know what is not known. Can we believe there might be a God, or not? Yes. Would some of us hope there is? Yep, but my view is that this would have little to do with any of the myths we are served up as truth. Do I KNOW this is so? You bet your boots I don't. Et vitam venturi ..... You see, maybe we're meant not to know, for very good an obvious reasons. Or maybe it's all cloud cuckoo.

      August 18, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  16. Shaliala

    This child belongs to his parents. This judge has NO biblical right to dictate what this child's name should be.

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

      Or legal rights either, and legal rights are way more important than biblical rights, whatever they might be.

      August 13, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  17. lamelionheart

    I'm shocked and mystified.... Atheists and Christians on the same pages... Who'd have thunk it,,? Or am I overlooking something..?

    August 13, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • Athy

      I'm shocked and mystified too. I actually understood your post.

      August 13, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
      • lamelionheart

        Thank you for reminding me Athy... It's medication time...

        August 13, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
      • Athy

        Maybe you should try overdosing.

        August 13, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
        • lamelionheart

          👿 :mrgreen: 👿

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

          Is that what caused the initial condition, though? For Zeus's sake, don't make it worse!

          August 13, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
        • Athy

          Good point. I guess I just wasn't thinking. But healthy overdose could possibly keep him from posting altogether, eh?

          August 13, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  18. Hypatia

    Judge needs a reminder about the separation of church and state-and a pink slip.

    August 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  19. Victoria

    The Judge is way out of line. The only time the courts should have a say in changing a person's name is when an adult wants to change their name. period. What makes this 'judge' this he is God?

    August 13, 2013 at 8:13 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.