Religious Judge Orders Baby “Messiah” Renamed

Last week in Tennessee, the parents of 7-month-old Messiah DeShawn Martin went to court. They wanted to settle a dispute over their son’s surname.

While they were there, Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew took it upon herself to change the child’s first name as well as his surname.


Because, in Ballew’s mind, “Messiah” is an off-limits baby name.

She told a Knoxville TV station 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.”

By Bellow’s order, the baby is now named Martin DeShawn McCullough.

And his parents are not happy about it.

Nor is Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, who said that Judge Ballew’s religious beliefs ought to remain private.

“She does not have the right to impose that faith on others,” said Weinberg. “And that is what she did.”

Not only is Ballew overstepping her authority, but she’s also clearly not keeping up with the latest baby name trends.

Thousands of U.S. babies have been named Messiah since the turn of the century, and the name became especially trendy just last year, thanks to reality TV.

The baby’s mom is appealing Ballew’s order. The ACLU has reached out to offer assistance.

What are your thoughts on the case?

Sources: ACLU says TN judge can’t ban “Messiah” baby name, Judge Orders Baby’s Name Changed From ‘Messiah’

5 thoughts on “Religious Judge Orders Baby “Messiah” Renamed

  1. Our justice system is based on our constitution NOT any religion. She should be removed from her position on the bench since how many past or future decisions could be based on her religious views?

  2. She has no right in changing the child’s name based on religious beliefs, not everyone is christian!

    Also I’d die if someone changed my son’s name to Martin, awful name. Not that I liked Messiah anyway, but that was his parents choice, and the judge has no right meddling with it.

  3. The ruling was overturned earlier today. Jaleesa Martin and Jawaan McCullough will now be allowed to name their son Messiah.

    At an appeal hearing in Cocke County Chancery Court on Wednesday, Chancellor Telford E. Forgety overturned Ballew’s decision, finding that she acted unconstitutionally.

    Forgety said that there is no basis in the law for changing a child’s first name where both parents are in agreement about it. He also said that Ballew’s decision violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

    By agreement of the parents, Forgety ordered the child’s name to be changed to Messiah Deshawn McCullough.

    Messiah Deshawn Martin was the baby’s original name.

    Source: ‘Messiah’ baby name allowed by Tenn. judge

  4. Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew “has been charged with violating the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct.”

    Several days ago, “the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct filed formal charges against Ballew.”

    Among other things, the code requires that judges perform all duties without bias or prejudice based on religion.

    Ballew has 30 days to answer the charges.

    Source: Judge Who Changed Baby’s Name Could Be Disciplined

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