Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered the parents of a 7-month-old baby boy to change his name from Messiah to Martin.
The parents were appearing before her in a dispute about the child’s surname. However, the judge ordered the parents to change the baby’s first name because, according to her, “only one person earned the name Messiah and that one person is Jesus Christ.”
WBIR Newport reports that the parents couldn’t agree on whose last name the boy should have, so they went before child support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew at Cocke County Chancery Court on Thursday to settle the matter.
The baby’s full name was officially Messiah DeShawn Martin, but Ballew told the baby’s parents that they must change it to Martin DeShawn McCullough, which includes both parents’ surnames but leaves out Messiah.
When the judge was asked what she thought about all the children named Jesus, she replied, ” Well, I thought about that… (but) that’s not relevant to this case.”
Martin is amazed a judge could force her to change her son’s name. “I was shocked. I never intended to name 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.”
Judge Ballew said she was thinking of the child’s future well-being when she made the decision. The part of Newport where Martin and her son live has a large proportion of Christians.
The judge said.’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… the word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person.”
Martin, who has two older children named Micah and Mason, intends to fight Ballew’s decision. “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.
An appeal will go before the Cocke County Chancellor on September 13 when Judge Ballew’s feeling about Messiah as a baby name will be challenged.
Photo credits: WBIR / yahoonews.com