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Mother Appeals Ruling She Must Change Baby’s Name Because ‘Messiah’ Is Not Christian

by Jean Ann Esselink on August 14, 2013

in Discrimination,Jean Ann Esselink,News

Post image for Mother Appeals Ruling She Must Change Baby’s Name Because ‘Messiah’ Is Not Christian

UPDATE: According to Newsmax Chancellor Telford Forgety has reversed the decision of Tennessee Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew and ruled Jaleesa Martin can name her baby “Messiah”. Chancellor Fogerty said in his ruling that requiring Ms. Martin to give her baby a “Christian” name, violated the establishment clause of the Constitution.

A Tennessee child support magistrate took it upon herself to change a baby boy’s name from Messiah, to Martin, because Messiah is not a Christian name. Lu Ann Ballew was asked to mediate a dispute between the baby’s parents over which of the parent’s last names the baby would have. Instead, she decided on her own volition to rename the baby. Explained Ms. Ballew:

“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 magistrate observed that the baby would be living in heavily Christian Cocke County, and the name Messiah “could put him at odds with a lot of people.” She gave the baby the name “Martin McCullough”, “Martin” being his mother’s last name, and “McCullough”, being his father’s surname.

Said Jaleesa Martin, the baby’s mother:

I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”

Jaleesa Martin is appealing the ruling, saying she “never intended on naming my son Messiah because it means God.”

Lu Ann BallewAnd even if she did, so what? According to the Social Security Administration, “Jesus” came in #101, on the list of most popular baby names last year. Asked about the common usage of the name “Jesus” Ms. Ballew (photo left) said it was “not relevant to the case.”

Child Support Magistrate is an appointed position, and Ms. Ballew could be removed by the judges elected to the district court, but so far no such action has been announced.

You can watch a news report on the story below:

Supporters of Jaleesa Martin’s right to name her own child have begun a petition to disbar Lu Ann Ballew, that you can sign here.

Ms. Martin’s appeal is scheduled to be heard next month.



Photos are from the Disbar Lu Ann Ballew Facebook Page 


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LEOINTHESUN August 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm

…she has no right!!

commenter42 August 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm

a) If the parents can't agree on their baby's name, they are already lousy parents and the boy's life is just beginning. How will they be able to handle all the decisions in the future?
b) The article says Mag. Ballew was asked to mediate the dispute. Her solution of using both parents last names instead of picking one of them was an excellent solution. Her explanation suggests disregard for the separation of church and state, but her solution is still a good one. It's surprising that these parents didn't seem to figure that out for themselves.
c) The magistrate's religion is not really relevant, and shame on everyone for zeroing in on that like it's the most important thing. I'm not a christian, but the dictionary definition of the noun "messiah" is: The promised deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible. Jesus, regarded by Christians as the Messiah of the Hebrew prophecies and the savior of humankind." Denying knowledge of that is foolish parenting at the least. Imagine giving your child a name and not knowing what the word means? This child's future does not look bright. The most important thing in this situation is actually what's best for the child.

RJohnsonII August 16, 2013 at 11:22 am

I think you misunderstood. I agree that the resolution to the surname (the issue she was asked to mediate) should be to have the child use both surnames. That isn't what the judge did. She gave the child the father's surname. Then she changed the child's first name (which was not in dispute by the parents). The judge, you or I may not agree with that choice of names but it isn't our place to say. I don't think "North", "Cricket", "Rainbow", "Blue Ivy", or "Breeze Berretta" (yes, the gun) are appropriate baby names but you don't see judges stepping in to change the names chosen by those celebrity parents.

commenter42 August 16, 2013 at 12:38 pm

I thought the “judge” was asked to mediate the dispute, not that she “stepped in?”

RJohnsonII August 28, 2013 at 7:38 am

The judge was asked to mediate a dispute over the child's SURNAME. The judge was not asked to mediate a dispute over the child's FIRST NAME because the first name wasn't in dispute. Is that more clear for you? By the way, my use of "stepped in" referred to the celebrities who have given their children unusual names that many might find inappropriate. Reading comprehension is your friend.

BeerandOnion August 14, 2013 at 5:01 pm

This is ridiculous. The government has place telling a person what name they can or cannot give their child. Of course this happened in a red state. A state controlled by small-government GOP. Small government means do things our way.

zsconn August 14, 2013 at 5:31 pm

This makes judges from TN look bad. (this might offend people but) My opinion: We can name our children whatever the heck we want to! No one, specifically the government, has the right to change what we name our children! This judge is SO biased, that now all of her cases should be reviewed. People are saying religion is irrelevant but this judge made it CLEARLY about HER religious beliefs. Lastly my opinion on what started this all, the last name of the baby, the MOTHER who carried and gave birth to the baby has the right to give that baby her last name, if she were married to the father then they would have MADE her give the baby the fathers last name (at least that is the way it is around here, TN, I don't know about other states). Sorry to the dad but if he doesn't like it then he should have married that child's mother, kept it in his pants (because no one made him have sex with her, if a man cares about a child having his last name then he should care about were he puts his sperm), or had a good enough relationship with the mother that when that child was born they had already decided on his last name… No I am not trying to bash dads rights, but since this was a "child support" hearing, and this child is 8 months old, the dad clearly didn't care that when the baby was born he was given the mothers last name, and potentially didn't care or wasn't around until child support was pursued. Too many parents want to argue about the pettiest stuff once things go to court, this "father" could have dealt with the name issue the 10 months she was pregnant, not 8 months after he was born… Anyways since she does have 2 other children maybe she wanted all of her kids to have the same last name. Regardless, why she named her son what she named him was her RIGHT as a mother! But this judge who wasn't even supposed to care about the first name went out of her way to change this child's name from "Messiah" to something else because of HER religious beliefs. Which she says pretty clearly in her own words.

xardox August 15, 2013 at 8:41 am

The magistrate observed that the baby would be living in heavily Christian Cocke County, and the name Messiah “could put him at odds with a lot of people.” — Then the magistrate should make a ruling to force a lot of people in Cocke County to shut the fuck up and quit harassing babies about their names. What a bunch of Cocke Suckers. Maybe the magistrate should consider changing the name of the county, too.

RainbowDemocrat August 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm

What if he really IS the Messiah?

etiendelamothecassel September 19, 2013 at 11:08 pm

The mother has the right to be an idiot.

dauphinjo September 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Not to mention the point about Jesus being a very common name. Wonder if she would have had a problem with Jehovah or Yahweh. Red states – we keep the govt out of your lives unless we don't like how you live

g_skorich September 21, 2013 at 9:21 am

why don't these mothers want their children to succeed in life? who is going to take an application seriously from Messiah? call your children whatever you like but name them something people won't assume is a joke.

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