A judge in Tennessee ordered that a 7-month-old baby’s name be changed from “Messiah,” prompting the mother to challenge the ruling.
Jaleesa Martin and the father of the baby were attending a child support hearing Thursday in Cocke County, Tenn. to settle a dispute over Messiah’s last name. It was there that Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew took the liberty to hand down a ruling on the boy’s first name, too.
“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,” Judge Ballew said, according to t.v. station WBIR. Ballew said the child could go by “Martin DeShawn McCullough,” which includes both the mother and father’s names.
The judge said that growing up with the name “Messiah” in an area with a large Christian population “could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is.”
Martin said she was “shocked” and intends to appeal the ruling.
“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.
This post has been updated.