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Judge says NO to ‘Messiah’ baby name

Posted at 7:24 AM, Aug 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-12 08:39:07-04

NEWPORT, Tenn. (WTVR/WBIR) - A Tennessee mother said she planned to appeal a judge's decision ordering her son's name be changed from "Messiah."

The seven-month-old boy's birth certificate reads "Messiah Deshawn Martin."

When the baby's parents could not agree on a last name for the child, they went to court. There the child support judge ordered the baby's last name be "Martin-McCullough," a combination of both parents.

She also ruled the child's first name could not be "Messiah."

"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.

"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," mother Jaleesa Martin said.

Ballew said it's the first time she has ever ordered a first name changed. She said she made the decision in the child's best interest. She added the child would be growing up in a county with a large Christian population.

"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," Ballew said.

When asked what she thought of children named "Jesus," the judge said she had thought about that and believed it was not relevant to this case.

"Everybody believes what they want, so I think I should be able to name my child what I want to name him," Martin said.

Martin's appeal is scheduled for September.