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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. Brian

    Whether some disagree with these parents' descision or not, it is entirely their choice what they want to name their child. Neither this judge nor anyone else has the right to dictate what name parents may or may not use. The ONLY potential exception to that would be if parents wanted to use a name that was truly derogatory, but the name Messiah certainly does not qualify. To deny the use of that name simply because she feels no one besides Jesus should ever be called that is purely this judge imposing her own religious views on others with no legal or moral justification.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • chelle

      What makes me laugh is the judge making the claim that the word "messiah" belongs to the Christian faith. Not so much.

      August 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  2. SCDad

    Jesus was not real so the Judge had no business passing such a judgement. That would be like saying you can't name your child Kringle because of Santa

    August 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  3. sybaris

    And religionists wonder why we have a problem with religion.

    Makes you wonder what other decisions the judge has made or causes the judge has promoted based on her religion.

    Religion is a filthy perverted disease of the mind

    August 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  4. Dogma

    Granted only a religious nut ball would name their child this, but I have to admit, no one should try to tell you what to name your child.
    However this only proves my long standing point that children don't pick their religion, choice has nothing to do with what beliefs your parents try to taint you with your entire life.
    Good luck kid, you're going to need it with these nut jobs as parents.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Bobby

      I don't think the mother knew the meaning, she just thought it sounded good because her other two kids had names that began with M.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      The mother said she named the kid that because she liked how it sounded. It had nothing to do with HER religion, it had to do with the JUDGE'S religion.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
      • Bobby

        Exactly, if this isn't crossing the lines of church and state I don't know what is. And they are the type of people who are passing anti sharia law measures while they implement their own version of sharia law.

        August 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  5. digest2000

    I agree with Xtine. The judge has over reached your authority; unless she can find a legal basis for her decision, I think the mother will prevail on appeal. The judge could give reasons why this may not be the best name selection in the long term hoping to change the mother's mind but to say "no" is not the judge's decision to make. She is using personal belief and opinion to enforce her decision and not law.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  6. lol?? Pithiest, YES!!

    Ms. will be reached in mediation. Much easier on a job application than Messiah. Purple Martin is too close to perp(etrator). And etraitor is too close to emale. And emasculated males is too American sounding.

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

      Coming from you, that means nothing.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  7. Anon_e_mouse

    From a legal perspective, I believe the judge is wrong. From a common sense perspective, he is absolutely right... and I would suggest that the case be referred to Child Protective Services (or whatever it's called there) since it is obvious that the parents don't have enough brain cells to raise a child.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  8. Jerry Seinfield

    Naming your child should be a decision you make for the future of your child. That's why I'm going to name my child yahweh. That way these ignorant judges will never know that I'm naming my child god in jewish. 🙂

    August 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Bobby

      Most christians know what yahweh is. "Yahweh I know you are near" is one of the most famous songs sung at church.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  9. Earthling

    Who the blazes does this judge think she is? What country does she think she lives in?

    August 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Tennessee.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  10. shiney

    I agree that the child should not be named "Messiah", no more than they should be allowed to name the child "Lucifer". It's just cruel to the child. Meanwhile, people in Hollywood should also take notice who name their children North West, Scout, Rumor, Tallulah, Pilot Inspector, etc, etc – the list goes on... to think about the child. Quit trying to be "different' and just let the kids be "normal"... what's wrong with Sue, Marie, Rebekah, John, Martin, Michael, etc???

    August 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • teerandaz

      Amongst those "normal" names in the end, you forgot to name Jesus.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Jason

      obviously no "normal" person spells it rebekah.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  11. Demigod Vadik, CA

    Parenst should be able toname their children whatever dumb thing they want to name the little bugger...

    August 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  12. Naming contest

    'Director', 'Officer' 'Mayor' are great names!

    August 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Naming contest

      'His royal Highness'

      August 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
      • Naming contest

        'Doctor', 'Scientist'

        August 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  13. Patrickonius Maximus I

    Anyone who goes by the name 'Take a Dump on Me' enters this debate having spent his or her credibility.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  14. NotYoDaddy

    So leave off the H and tell the judge to bite it.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  15. Juanita S.

    I agree with the Judge. The parents of this young child, unfortunately, appear to have no Biblical foundation, training or nurturing. This is sad. There is only ONE MESSIAH – JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOR!. How dare they even consider such a name for their child. Someone should have told them this; but, then again, they are obviously surrounded by others who have no Biblical foundation, training or nurturing. Smart move by the Judge.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Marie

      There is a definition of "messiah" in the dictionary, and Jesus Christ is not it, so don't let your religious views impact the proper use of the word.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
      • Sara Mae

        Amen.

        August 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • chelle

        Christians (well some of them) seem to think that if a word is in the bible it is exclusive to Christianity.

        August 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Demigod Vadik, CA

      Who the F are you to tell people they cant name their kids what they want???...

      August 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Earthling

      Keep your religious nonsense in your church where it belongs. It is not fit for public display.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      Yes we need more injection of religion into our judicial system and laws. We need to be more like Iran.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Carl

      Biblical training in Christian theology is not part of the legal education process in American law schools and religious belief has no place in a court's decisions. This ruling is as anti-American as a judge imposing precepts of sharia.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  16. KingofKings

    Too funny all the way around. Just begs for racist remarks. Messiah DeShawn!!! Mom's name is Jaleesa, why not call the kid Messiah? At least they didn't go for THE Messiah 😉

    August 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  17. kahnkeller

    say ... listen you heathens... us good Christians.... totally reserve the right to name your
    .... un godly off spring... and that precludes the use of...godly names.... be gone before
    we put you on a burning cross...oh wait... that was used by the KKK... well... that is ok...
    they are good Christians...

    August 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  18. Kenny

    Its a violation of human rights to tell a parent they cant name their child whatever they want.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  19. jasmine

    The judge sounds as though he let his personal views determine the case. While I think the name "messiah" was given in poor choice ,I find it illegal to find it illegal. Oh and by poor choice i simply am stating this name will bring this kid unwanted attention and children allready have enough to deal with.

    August 12, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The judge clearly thought she was acting on the best interests of the child. (Arguably she was.) There are many circvmstances in family court where judges are expected to do this, and for all we know, this situation was one of those situations.

      Doubtless there is little time on the docket for a judge to sit down in conference with the mother (and her counsel) and tell her why "Messiah" is a bad idea for a name, and suggest that she reconsider her choice, but she overstepped the mother's rights here by changing the first name by fiat.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • Saraswati

        As far as I can tell, Martin means "Servant of the god Mars". Way to deal with the religious name issue.

        August 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        I guess Judge Ballew is OK that the pagan origins of Martin are now overshadowed in Protestantism thanks to a certain 16th century German monk.

        August 12, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  20. Walter Weinzinger

    The summary above of the full story is very misleading. The summary states:
    "Do you agree with the judge's decision or do you think the parents should be able to name their son Messiah?"
    which makes it sound like the parents wanted to name the boy "Messiah" but the judge wouldn't allow it. This was NOT what happened! The mother wanted the name "Messiah" but the father did not so they went to a judge to settle the argument.
    The judge made the right decision. If the boy when he's grown later wants his name to be "Messiah", then he will change his name. The mother certainly did not have the boy's best interests at heart when she decided on the "name" "Messiah".

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

      This article is poorly written. The boy's name was Messiah for the 7 months he was on this Earth; it was his last name that the case was supposed to be deciding. The judge saw his first name, didn't like it, and changed his name to Martin DeShawn McCullough.
      The judge overstepped her authority and should be sanctioned.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • jasmine

      I see that now. They could have laid that tidbit out in this short summary above. Well...that changes my whole opinion ....I would be for the judge on this.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Could you providea source for this, because everything I have seen indicates the dispute was over the last name.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Owl96

      Thank you for "the rest of the story". i was wondering how the case came to the judge at all. Parents that need to go to a judge to settle an argument over a baby name have no hope of surviving a marraige long-term. The next time they are there, it will be to set child support payments.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

        What makes you think they were married?

        August 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • PaytonB

      No Walter, it was the LAST name they could not agree on. The first name was not in contention between the parents.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Hey! You!

      According to the video the parents could not agree on a surname. The first name was not in question. The judge took it upon herself to interject her religious beliefs. Your welcome.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Dippy

        You're, not your.

        August 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Javier

      You didn't read the whole story. The parents weren't arguing over the first name, but the last name. After the review, the judge told them to re-issue a first name for the child.

      August 12, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Paul

      The story (full story) clearly states that the mother and father were in dispute over the LAST name and both were shocked when the judge changed the first name

      August 12, 2013 at 4:15 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.