Tennessee Child Support Magistrate, Lu Ann Ballew, ordered parents of Martin DeShawn McCollough, birth named Messiah DeShawn Martin, to have Messiah removed as his first name.
The parents were in court, because they could not decide on the last name of the child. After hearing the child’s first name, she ordered it to be changed, as well. The judge based her decision to have the child’s name changed from Messiah for two reasons. First, she felt “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” being that the small town of Cocke County’s population has a lot of Christians. Secondly, she felt 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.” She added Baby Martin “at this point he has had no choice in what his name is.”
The judge, who was incorrect in her facts, as more than one religion lays claim to the title of Messiah, could not answer other questions directly related to the case she had created. When questioned about Jesus and its pronunciation majorly in Hispanic communities, she simply stated that she had thought about that, but it was not relevant to the case. Social Security Administration statistics reports that Messiah was one of the most common names of 2012, and that the choice of the name Messiah is becoming increasingly more popular.
The mother, Jaleesa Martin, says she did not decide on the name Messiah because of the connotation to God, but rather she felt that the name would go well with Martin’s siblings, Micah and Mason, and she seeks to appeal the decision. The upset mother told reporters, “I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs. 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.”
Judge Ballew decided on the new name as a combination of both parents’ names. The mother has decided to continue to call her son Messiah, and Judge Bellow could not be reached for comments.
By: Kimberly Scott