(Newport, TN) A Tennessee judge has ordered a 7-month-old boy’s first name be changed from Messiah to Martin.
The judge, child support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew, said, “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.”
The infant’s parents were in court because they could not agree on his last name.
Ballew said this is the first time she has ordered a first-name change. She told WBIR that she did it because the child may grow up in a community 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.
According to the Social Security Administration’s annual list of popular baby names, Messiah was number 4 among the fastest-rising baby names last year.
The judge ordered the boy be named Martin DeShawn McCullough, which includes both parents’ last name.
Jaleesa Martin, the boy’s mother, said she chose the name because it’s unique and she liked how it sounded with the 7-month-old’s older siblings, Micah and Mason.
“I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs,” she said.
Martin also said she will appeal the judge’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,” Martin said.