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Baby can't be named 'Messiah,' judge rules

Jaleesa Martin is appealing a judge's ruling that changed her baby's first name from Messiah to Martin after the judge declared that, "Messiah is reserved only for Jesus." She was in court with her baby's father in hopes of coming to a conclusion on their son's name.

A Tennessee judge has ordered a baby boy’s name to be changed from “Messiah” after deciding it is a title that has “only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ.”

NBC station WBIR reported that the parents of the 7-month-old went to a child support hearing in Cocke County Chancery Court because they could not agree on his surname.

However, Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew decided Thursday that the baby, Messiah DeShawn Martin, should be renamed “Martin DeShawn McCullough.”

“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,” Ballew said, according to WBIR-TV.

She said she made the decision in the best interests of the child.

Heidi Wigdahl / WBIR-TV via AP

Seven-month-old Martin DeShawn McCullough is held by his mom Jaleesa Martin after a judge ruled he could not be called "Messiah."

“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.

On Sunday, Jaleesa Martin, the baby’s mother, told the station that she planned to appeal the decision.

“I never intended on naming 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,” she said.

Martin said she liked how the name sounded alongside her two other children, Micah and Mason.

“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.

The appeal will go before the Cocke County chancellor on Sept. 17.


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