Cocke-county-tennessee-courthouseSome parents have been known to give their kids really odd names. We hear about this mostly in the celebrity world; e.g. Kim Kardashian and Kanye West naming their daughter North (so she’ll be “North West”). There are, however, countless other stupid child names given to much-less-famous people, including some so bad that they end up becoming famous for them (e.g. neo-Nazi Heath Campbell naming his son Adolf Hitler).

Even so, I’ve never heard of family-court judges intervening and altering a child’s lousy name … until now. As WBIR-TV in Knoxville TN reports, a judge there took it upon herself to change a boy’s name from “Messiah” (WebCite cached article):

A Newport mother is appealing a court’s decision after a judge ordered her son’s name be changed from “Messiah.”

Jaleesa Martin and the father of Messiah could not agree on a last name, which is how they ended up at a child support hearing in Cocke County Chancery Court on Thursday.

That is when the first name came into question.…

The name change was part of Judge Ballew’s case; however, the parents did not think the first name would be changed.

Judge Ballew ordered the 7-month-old’s name be “Martin DeShawn McCullough.” It includes both parent’s last names but leaves out Messiah.

Ballew explained her reason for making this unasked-for change, and it was solely religious:

“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.

WBIR-TV’s video report is right here:

I can think of lots of people who would disagree with Ballew, including (and perhaps especially) Jews, who some two and a half millennia ago invented the notion and title of “messiah” and who think no one, not even Jesus Christ, has yet earned that moniker. (I admit it’s possible they might be offended by naming a child “Messiah,” but for their own reasons. But I don’t know that for sure.)

I don’t think it’s wise to name a child “Messiah,” myself, mostly because so many other people in his life are going to get their knickers in knots over it — just as Ballew clearly did. Which, of course, would only be the result of their own irrational metaphysics; but it’s still not something a boy ought to pay the price for, his whole life.

Note: See two salient comments below for clarification of Jewish views of the Messiah and on people with that name. It turns out my half-hearted conjecture was incorrect. My thanks to both commenters.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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4 Responses to “Tennessee Judge Says Child Can’t Be Named “Messiah””
  1. Fiery says:

    In Israel, you'll find Moshiach, which is a first name and means "messiah," so it's already a-ok to do this in the culture where the word actually comes from!

  2. @Tobin_Maker says:

    Actually, the ancient Hebrews, who invented the term "messiah", didn't reserve the title for just one person. For example, they regarded Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, as a messiah.
    Personally, I think it's tragic that anyone would name their kid "Lu Ann", but that's my personal opinion, and I don't believe we should force the Judge to change her name.

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