Tenn. Judge: Baby Can't Be Named 'Messiah'

She names child 'Martin' instead

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 12, 2013 6:41 AM CDT | Updated Aug 12, 2013 7:36 AM CDT

(Newser) – According to one Tennessee judge, only one person in history deserves the name "Messiah"—so on Thursday she changed a 7-month-old's name to Martin instead. "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," Judge Lu Ann Ballew said in her ruling. She added that the decision is for little Messiah's own good, as his name "could put him at odds with a lot of people," particularly in the heavily Christian county where he lives. Mom Jaleesa Martin is appealing the decision, WBIR reports.

Martin and the baby's father were in court fighting over the baby's name, but not his first name—they couldn't agree on a last name. Ballew ordered the child's name be registered as "Martin DeShawn McCullough," which includes both parents' last names. "I was shocked," says Martin. "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." Messiah was the No. 4 fastest-rising baby name of 2012, the AP notes. (Also on the list: Major and King; click for more.)

This photo provided by Heidi Wigdahl of WBIR-TV shows seven-month old Martin DeShawn McCullough being held by his mom Jaleesa Martin.   (AP Photo/Heidi Wigdahl)
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