The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is crying foul at a Tennessee judge who ordered last week that a 7-month-old boy’s name be changed from “Messiah” to “Martin.”
Jaleesa Martin and the father of Messiah attended a child support hearing last Thursday in Cocke County, Tenn. to settle a dispute over their child’s last name. But Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew rendered a judgment on the first name as well, ruling that the boy can go by “Martin DeShawn McCullough” to encompass the mother and father’s name. Ballew told TV station WBIR 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.”
Hedy Weinberg, head of the ACLU in Tennessee, told USA Today that Ballew “does not have the right to impose that faith on others.” Weinberg said the ACLU will offer to provide assistance to Martin, who has said she will challenge the ruling.
“Messiah” was one of the five fastest growing male baby names between 2011 and 2012, according to the Social Security Administration.