EDITORIAL NOTE: Update below original article
When the parents of a seven-month-old Messiah couldn’t agree on a last name for their son, they left it up to the Cocke County Chancery Court in Tennessee to decide.
But instead of reaching a final verdict on the last name, they were shocked to find child support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered a name change for the baby’s first name, declaring it unfit.
According to WBIR, Judge Ballew felt it was imperative to change the name for the boy’s own sake as he grows up in a largely Christian populated county.
“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” she said and explained the name could “put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice” in it.
So she ordered the parent’s to change the toddler’s name to Martin DeShawn McCullough.
But now Jaleesa Martin, Messiah’s mother, is speaking out against the ruling. “Everybody believes what they want so I think I should be able to name my child what I want to name him, not someone else” she 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.”
ThinkProgress reports when the judge was asked to comment on the prevalence of the religion-based name Jesus, she said “that’s not relevant to this case.”
Martin is appealing the judge’s decision on her son’s name change. The case will be held in September.
Judge Renames Baby – UPDATED 02/05/2014
From the Daily News
Child Support Magistrate Lu Anne Ballew of Cocke County was terminated from her appointment, effective last Friday, according to court documents. Ballew had ordered a boy’s first name changed over objections of his parents as they tried to settle other issues.