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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. Let your voice be heard

    Lu Ann Ballew Child Support Magistrate
    Contact Info: 865-712-7023 (P)
    Address P.O. Box 70 New Market, TN County Jefferson

    August 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  2. R.M. Goodswell

    The judge is supposed to represent an impartial, secular system. As for the name, thanks to its nature some people will be down right hostile to the little guy before he gets past his name- way to make it an uphill climb Mom.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • R.M. Goodswell

      ....And he ll be facing the usual BS as well.....he's a bloody human being Rollo

      August 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  3. BDSaint

    I agree with the ruling, but not the rational. Come on, Messiah, really? Like you're not setting this kid up for a life time of problems. This ranks right there with "Faith, Hope, Crystal, and yes Jesus". Please folk put some thought into naming your kid an not just what sounds cool or different.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I know women in their 90s named Faith, and Jesus is a very common name. You seem to be a bit confused about naming demographics, though I agree some names should be avoided. However, can you imagine the mess of leaving this up to individual judges' discretion?!?!

      August 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Faith, Hope and Charity were once very popular names for girls, along with flower names like Violet, Petunia, Lilly, etc.

      Then of course there are names like Maude, Agnes, Florence and Martha. You don't hear names like those anymore, but there's nothing *wrong* with them.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  4. Name required not a t*itle for your baby

    😉

    August 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Naming contest

      'Chief executive Officer ' , 'President' sound great!

      August 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
  5. Terry Pommett

    I would love to take a dump on you, open your mouth

    August 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  6. John

    Why not name him Fred?

    August 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  7. beubanks

    I agree with the judge's decision but not his reasoning. Using religion in a legal decision is dodgy as best and malpractice at worst. However, naming a child something like Messiah can not be good for the child in the long term. Likely, the child will not even use the name except on official forms; opting for a middle or nick-name instead. All that said, the US has no ability to interfere with the naming of a child on a legal level to begin with. At least not as I am aware of. Other countries do have legal provisions of that sort. New Zealand if somewhat famous for it. Frankly, this is not really news to begin with, so I say we should let it rest and they will work it out.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  8. Warren

    The judge has no legal right to tell a person that they can't use name a child Messiah.' Those backward southern people are nuts!

    August 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Let your voice be heard

      Lu Ann Ballew Child Support Magistrate
      Contact Info: 865-712-7023 (P)
      Address P.O. Box 70 New Market, TN County Jefferson

      August 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  9. Just wondering

    I think people need to give mor consideration to what they name a child and this was a poor choice. We that said the judge is wrong and to parents should have the right to choose.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Let your voice be heard

      Lu Ann Ballew Child Support Magistrate
      Contact Info: 865-712-7023 (P)
      Address P.O. Box 70 New Market, TN County Jefferson

      August 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Just wondering

      Also the judge has no right to force her religous point of view of these people or make assumptions about theirs

      August 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  10. PushingBack

    While I think the parents are crazy for choosing this name I have a particular disdain for the magistrate injecting her religious beliefs into the decision. I guess all of the people named Jesus out there need to change their names to Jim now.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  11. Carlos

    The name 'Major General' sounds regal!

    August 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Just wondering

      only if its modern

      August 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Carlos Danger

      Are these parents naming their baby or conferring a t.itle??

      August 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  12. Terry Pommett

    The judge is arrogant and ignorant, should be reprimanded for that decision. Here's goes the wacky Christian right again.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  13. TK

    parents have the right name their children as they please and the judge was out of line to order the couple to change the baby's name. as far teasing i doubt many kids his age will know what the word messiah means in relation to god so any amount of teasing will more than likely come adults

    August 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Let your voice be heard

      Lu Ann Ballew Child Support Magistrate
      Contact Info: 865-712-7023 (P)
      Address P.O. Box 70 New Market, TN County Jefferson

      August 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  14. Annamae

    I think the magistrate is completely out of line, but the real tragedy here is that the mother is so pathetically ignorant that she didn't even know what the word messiah means. She thought the name was "unique" and she liked how it sounded. The mother is a complete moron and should be ashamed of her own ignorance.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Terry Pommett

      What the heck does Annamae mean?

      August 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Akira

      And I'll bet the only exercise you get is leaping to conclusions.
      Messiah was also the fourth fastest growing name of 2012, so there must be a lot of "mothers who are complete morons and should be ashamed of their own ignorance."

      August 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • BDSaint

      Spot on. Poor kid better be the Messiah with a mom like this. I'd say "parents" but we know the baby-daddy is no where to be found. Surprising-nope.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
      • Saraswati

        The case was in court because the TWO parents disagreed on the last name. The father did a good job of making a fuss for someone who couldn't be found.

        August 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  15. Gail

    Goofy.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  16. Lewy

    How about 'Messiah' with an apostrophe and a hyphen? Li'l Me'ss-iah. Names like that seem to be popular with these people.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  17. Xtine

    Michael Jackson named his son Prince Michael. Kanye and Kim have a kid named North. Gwyneth Paltrow named her baby Apple. Did I miss something about illegal vs. legal naming schemes, somewhere? What about kids named America or Liberty? Hispanic peoples use the name Jesus consistently. It's certainly not an insult to Christianity, or any other religion.

    First of all, Messiah isn't that bad a name. It's steeped in a rich, mired history and religious tradition, but it has a positive and winning appeal to it. Seems like a pretty good name for a child on whom rides the hopes of his parents, actually. It's a hopeful name, not a bad thing to live up to.

    Secondly, since when does a judge get to determine what a mother names her child? Regardless of his own personal views, as a political figurehead, that power shouldn't exist. Period.

    Regardless of race, education, creed, whatever, the point of our country is to have the freedom to do things like name our children whatever we want (some people act stupidly and use weird names, but Messiah really isn't bad at all). If they hate it, they can change it later.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Maltytasker

      All very good points. Fortunately, I think this will probably be overturned on appeal.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
      • Let your voice be heard

        Lu Ann Ballew Child Support Magistrate
        Contact Info: 865-712-7023 (P)
        Address P.O. Box 70 New Market, TN County Jefferson

        August 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The judge's 'opinion' is accurate. This child will have a tough time growing up in Tennessee with the name "Messiah".

      Despite her good intentions, she overstepped her authority by changing the first name without discussing the first name with the parents.

      Given all the details of this case, "Martin" is a nice compromise choice, (starts with "M" like his siblings, it is his mother's name, etc) but one the mother needs to buy into.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • chelle

      Very well written comments. I prefer Messiah to naming a poor child "North West"

      August 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  18. Jules

    Who died and made this judge God? He has no business in this whatsoever.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Ryan

      She actually.

      August 12, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

      There's a reason Mormons housed their women separately in little cottages. It's called separation of conflict and state.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
      • A. Bob

        Because men never create conflict. Must be a troll

        August 13, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
  19. Johnny C.

    I'm surprised they didn't name him "Sue." It is Tennessee, afterall.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  20. John

    It is hard to know which party has the worst judgment: the mother wanting to use the name; or the judge who says she can't.

    August 12, 2013 at 3:54 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.