Tennessee Judge Orders Parents To Change Name Of Baby To Martin Because Messiah Is Reserved For Jesus Christ

250px-Samuel_e_davidParents in Tennessee came to court to deal with a dispute over the last name to be used for their 7-month-old son. However, Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered the first name to be changed because the parents had named the boy “Messiah.” Ballew admits that she has never ordered a first name change (particularly when both parents were in agreement with the name) but that messiah is a name earned by one person and “that one person is Jesus Christ.”

The bizarre ruling by Ballew came in a dispute of the estranged parents. She ordered the boy to be called Martin DeShawn McCullough. The mother’s name is Jaleesa Martin. The mother is appealing the decision.

First, it turns out that the name “Messiah” is the fourth most popular name among the fastest rising names. It also had the benefit of alliteration for the mother with his two siblings, Micah and Mason.

Second, and most importantly, it is not the province of a judge to police religious sensibilities. We have previously discussed how some countries require approval of names or ban the use of some names. This would not be one of those countries. It is particularly offensive when such action is taken to support religious sectarian interests. Ballew stated “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.” It is indeed a title but different people view its meaning and its identification differently. Jews for example are still awaiting the Messiah and do not believe that Jesus earned that title. The term is generally defined as meaning “a professed or accepted leader of some hope or cause.”

Ballew insisted that she is protecting the child since “[i]t could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is.” However, that forces parents to adhere to the demands of the religiously intolerant in society.

The order should be appealed and quickly reversed. More importantly, Ballew’s qualification to serve in any judicial function, even a relatively minor judicial office, needs to be reexamined. If her interests favor the ecclesiastical over the legal, there is a wealth of opportunities to be pursued.

56 thoughts on “Tennessee Judge Orders Parents To Change Name Of Baby To Martin Because Messiah Is Reserved For Jesus Christ”

  1. We got a dog in the dogpac named HeyZeusDog. He does not come on to the Dogalogue Machine here because he is constantly preaching to stray dogs who do not belong to the dogpac. He says that they need to be part of the “flock”. He says flock and we insist on dogpac but then he insists that no pastor can fleece a dogpac but can fleece a flock. So go figure. Some dogs say that the spulling of HeyZeus has something to do with him being a Spanish terrier but I do not catch the drift of that.

  2. SlingTrebuchet:

    “I thought that Ballew was a name earned by one person only, and that one person is a Disney character.”

    Actually, Baloo, and he was a Kipling character. But the Judge is clearly a cartoon adaptation of another kind.

  3. grathuln,

    Slightly OT, but not only have I been enjoying your posts (it’s always good to have science literate commentators), but I like your avatar as well. A fox playing “whack-a-mole” is a very appropriate picture. Welcome aboard. I hope you stick around.

  4. PSmith: I couldn’t see anything in the story suggesting the judge would have approved of Adolf Hitler as a name–can you tell me what you saw?

  5. So Yahweh, Jehovah and God are also out yet Mohammed is ok? Religious discrimination perhaps…

  6. judges need to keep their religious beliefs off the bench or they need to get off the bench.

  7. I thought that Ballew was a name earned by one person only, and that one person is a Disney character.

    ….. Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Martin

  8. AY, The judge doesn’t need to go to South America, just a Major League ballpark, to see Jesus playing shortstop, centerfield, etc.

  9. These folks are neighbors of the great NASCAR driver, Ricky Bobby[“Shake and Bake”]. He named his last son, Baby Jesus, and this couple is just following his lead.

  10. “If her interests favor the ecclesiastical over the legal, there is a wealth of opportunities to be pursued.”

    ********************

    Ok, JT, enough of the Jimmy Swaggart, Jonathan/Jerry Falwell, Ted Haggard jokes.

  11. Perhaps the judge had too many generations of first-cousin marriages in her family tree? Or was it something in the water?

  12. She better stay out of the South Americans countries….. She’s gonna flip when she hear Jesus being used…..

  13. Obviously, this judge will have some problem with the widespread use of Jesus and Mohammed for children’s names as well.

    A little etymological research about the name shows the word “Messiah” is based upon a Semitic word meaning “to anoint” or “anointed”. The biblical kings of Israel, having been anointed with oil, were literally Messiahs in their time. In fact there were even ancient gentile kings, considered to be divinely inspired, who were given the title. The title was not just bestowed upon kings, but priests, prophets and other great men. It was from Roman up until modern times that the word came to mean the expected liberator of Israel who would bring peace. As one blogger pointed out last night, Judge Ballew dismisses half the Judeo/Christian history and tradition she professes to support. The Jewish tradition believes the messiah has yet to appear. If that is the case, what if the true messiah expected by Jews appears? Would he have to change his name too?

    BTW, she also has the Ten Commandments hanging in her office.

    Tennessee is giving Florida and Texas some serious competition in the race to the bottom.

  14. And a judge in Virginia once said blacks and whites shouldn’t marry because “god” (the same one the idiot in Tennessee believes in) “parted the waters to separate them”. No doubt Ballew would have a conniption fit if Latino parents named their son Jesus.

    That judge clearly isn’t fit to hold that job, not smart enough to understand that religious cults don’t get to make laws nor dictate how others live. “Messiah” is a dumb name (pariah is what the kid will be), but at least it’s not as dumb as naming the idiot in New Jersey naming his kid “Adolf Hitler”…which I’m sure Ballew would have approved of.

  15. “More importantly, Ballew’s qualification to serve in any judicial function, even a relatively minor judicial office, needs to be reexamined.”

    Yep. Thank Dog they didn’t name the kid Jesus. The bench is not a Ballew’s personal pulpit.

  16. While I agree that naming one’s child “Messiah” is ill-advised, I find this jusge’s decision to be outrageous. It is Tennessee, though, so I’m not a bit surprised.

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