No Messiah in my Court says Tennessee Judge

The life of expectant parents is not all sunshine and rainbows. It can be a time filled with great angst as important issues need to be sorted out; how to afford a new addition to the family, and will the baby be healthy are two thoughts that weight heavily on a parents mind. Heck, even naming a child can an involved process.

Some parents spend months going through a book of names or talking to love ones about the subject. That could be why a recent Tennessee court case is getting so much attention. A woman by the name of Jaleesa Martin headed to court to have a dispute settled. The father wanted the son to have his last name while the mother favored hers. What ended up happening shocked all involved.

Instead of settling the last name issue, the judge ruled that the baby’s first name had to be changed. It should be noted that the boy was seven months old at the time of the decision. What problem did the Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew have with the young boy’s name? His name is, or was Messiah DeShawn Martin. The mother picked the name because she thought it sounded good with his brothers names, Micah and Mason.

However, Judge Ballew did have a problem with the moniker. Her ruling was that the child should be legally named Martin DeShawn McCullough. The judge stated as her reasoning: “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.” One can bet that statement is going to cause a lot of uproar with several groups. She also felt that the name would put an undue burden on the child later on in life. Ballew felt that it could be seen as confrontational when he gets older.

Chief among them will be folks who believe there is separation between church and state. The Supreme Court has ruled many times on that fact, but evidently, the trickle down effect has not made it all the way to Tennessee just yet. When the ruling came down, Jaleesa Martin was dumbfounded. She said, “”I was shocked. I never intended on naming my son Messiah because it means ‘God,’ and I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”

Martin is already planning an appeal as she appears to have lost on two fronts. She wanted the baby to have her last name. Now, if the judge has her way, the baby will only keep the middle name. Hard to believe that another court will uphold this ruling as judges are not supposed to get in the business of naming babies. What might shock some folks is just how popular the name Messiah is. In 2012, it was fourth on the list of fastest growing names. That also pushed the name into the top 400 names in the same year.