A judge in Tennessee has ordered a 7-month-old’s name be changed from “Messiah” to “Martin” against the wishes of his parents.
Lu Ann Ballew, a Tennessee child support magistrate, has “unilaterally decided to rename a seven-month-old boy” because she feels the name his parents chose for him, “Messiah,” is not an acceptable name. WBIR reports that Messiah’s parents could not agree on whose last name their son would have, so went to Cocke County Chancery Court last Thursday. But instead of just deciding on the last name, Ballew changed the boy’s first name as well. She renamed him Martin DeShawn McCullough.
Her reasoning, she explained, was that, “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.”
Ballew claimed that the move was in the best interest of the child living in a heavily Christian county: “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.” Asked about her thoughts about the many children named “Jesus,” Ballew responded, “I thought about that, and that’s not relevant to this case.”
According to the Associated Press, “Messiah” was the fourth-fastest-rising baby name last year. The Social Security Administration’s database also shows that “Jesus” was the 101st-most-common name for a boy in 2012.
Messiah’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, is appealing the ruling. She told WBIR,“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.”
What do you think? Was it the place of the magistrate to change the infant’s name against the wishes of the parents? Do you think it was truly in the “best interest of the child”?
And what about the parents in New Jersey who chose to name their children Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun (among others)? Should there be some type of oversight if a name given to a child may cause problems for them later in life?