Judge to Mom: “Thou Shalt Not Name Thy Child ‘Messiah'”

Just another false messiah, it seems. From the Associated Press:

A judge in Tennessee changed a 7-month-old boy’s name to Martin from Messiah, saying the religious name was earned by one person and “that one person is Jesus Christ.” …

“It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is,” [Magristrate Lu Ann] Ballew said.

It was the first time she ordered a first name change, the judge said.

Messiah was No. 4 among the fastest-rising baby names in 2012, according to the Social Security Administration’s annual list of popular baby names. …

The boy’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, of Newport, said she will appeal. She says Messiah is unique and she liked how it sounded alongside the boy’s two siblings — Micah and Mason.

I am eager to read your comments on this one.


Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.



View All Comments »
  1. InterestedinTN says:

    Does the judge have the power to do this?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0
    • Enter your name... says:

      Some places have laws that reject children’s names if they are expected to result in ridicule. You probably can’t name a child “My Mother Slept With The Neighbors Smith”.

      In this case, I believe that the more relevant problem is that the father objected. The court case was between the parents, not between the state and the mother.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1
      • Austin says:

        No, the naming dispute between the mother and father was what the LAST name was. Not the first. The judge took it upon herself to change the first name, clearly based on her own religious views, stating that “Only one person has earned the title of Messiah, and that person is Jesus Christ.”

        The courts will almost certainly strike this down in appeals. That judge should also be disbarred for being unable to keep her personal religious views out of the courtroom.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3
  2. Michael says:

    So now he is called Martin Martin?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 2
    • Enter your name... says:

      No, he’s Martin DeShawn McCullough. It sounds like the parents are not married, and so the judge used the mother’s last name as his first, so that both family names were represented.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1
  3. AKJ says:

    I’d like to know what laws she cited in making her decision. It is a judge’s job to interpret the law, not make it.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 3
  4. Enter your name... says:

    It sounds like the judge needs a bit of a linguistics lesson. “Messiah” means “anointed”, as in “And David said unto him [about his killing King Saul], How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the LORD’S anointed?” It is not a title that one “earns”. It is something that happens to you by the action of other people on behalf of God (or directly by God, depending on your interpretation).

    Most Christian denominations consider all of their priests/pastors/preachers to be “anointed”. Many of the liturgical churches anoint people who are baptized, making all Christians be “messiahs”. Pentecostals are very interested in “the anointing of the Holy Spirit” on a person.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 12
    • Ben says:

      The true meaning, i.e. denotation is not so much of importance as the connotation in a case such as the above.

      The meanings that people attach to a word or symbol may be of great relevance to the acceptability thereof.

      An example of this might be the swastika. Should you allow your child or significant other to get a swastika tattoo?

      Whilst being an ancient symbol, vastly pre-dating the 20th century, the swastika is most readily associated with atrocities committed in the time leading up to and during the 2nd world war.

      Conn0tation should be taken into account in the Messiah case because most people will equate Messiah to Jesus, despite the true denotation.

      Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0
  5. Steven says:

    If this is legitimate court business, they are asking for a long docket indeed given today’s baby-naming trends.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0
  6. Dan Aris says:

    Well, sure, he’ll probably have problems growing up, but no more than if he were named Rainbow or Twilight.

    The First Amendment’s establishment clause, it seems to me, would indicate that this judge is vastly overstepping her bounds. It doesn’t matter if the child is named Mohammed, Messiah, Jesus, Satan, Buddha, or any other religious-related name: the laws and legal machinery of the United States of America do not have the authority to force it to be changed for such reasons.

    It disgusts me when public officials in this country think the Bible is a more important document to their jobs than the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 54 Thumb down 7
    • Leland maniloff says:

      Right. Just how many people are named Jesus in the us? Absurd.

      Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1
      • Barry says:

        lots of people are named Jesus, they pronounce it ‘hey-soos’ though. And the original pronunciation is a bit different. This may be the most stupid argument I have ever heard.

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1
      • Pete says:

        Barry, Dear Barry.

        We are the ones Mispronouncing Jesus’ Name. His Name to Christians is Latin, It is “Hey-Zeus” It was Anglicized to “Gee-Suss” Rather than using the English version of the Hebrew Name.

        In Hebrew Jesus’ Name is Jeshuah (sp) Pronounced “Yesh-U-Wah” In Latin Jesus, and in English…. Joshua.

        So when you look at the Number of People named Josh and Jesus in America it is Absurd To think that Messiah is somehow more inflammatory than Jesus’ First name.

        Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1
  7. Alyssa says:

    If you click through, the article explains that the reason they are in court is to decide on the last name, so the judge changed the first name to Martin(the mother’s last name) and kept the father’s last name(McCullough).

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2
  8. Ryan says:

    Martin McCullugh. The parents were in court two determine what the child’s last name should be…the judge went with Martin to acknowledge the mother’s last name and McCullough for the father.

    The judge’s order itself will be overturned. There is no legal standing for her action. Unfortunately it is going to ignite a firestorm of conversation over “religious freedom” and “child protection.” I believe we are about to see some strange bedfellows in this discussion!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1
    • reuben says:

      I’m a proponent of when an unmarried couple has a kid, then kid should usually end up with the mom’s last name since she’s generally going to do most of the work.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 21
      • Gaga hash says:

        Reuben ….and you know this how?

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 6
      • linch says:

        Reuben: Without looking at any other details, statistically you’re probably correct, however the father’s interest in caring about the name suggests a willingness for caring about the other parts of the child’s welfare as well.

        Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2