'Messiah' Fine as First Name for Baby Boy, Tenn. Judge Rules

Messiah Martin
A Tennessee judge on Wednesday restored a baby boy's given first name of Messiah. (TODAY)

A Tennessee judge on Wednesday restored a baby boy's given first name of Messiah, ruling unconstitutional a lower ranking judge's order changing it to Martin on the basis that Messiah is a title earned only by Jesus Christ.

The parents of Messiah DeShawn Martin had gone before Tennessee Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew in August because they could not agree on his last name. Ballew instead ordered the then-7-month-old baby's name changed to Martin DeShawn McCullough.

After her ruling, Ballew told WBIR television news, "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 boy's parents, Jaleesa Martin and Jawaan McCullough, never stopped calling him Messiah and immediately appealed the ruling, says attorney Kristi Davis, who represents Messiah's mother.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Chancellor Telford E. Forgety Jr. reversed Ballew's decision, the Cocke County Chancery Court Clerk's Office said.

Davis says Forgety found that Ballew's ruling violated the guaranteed separation of church and state, since "the rationale for her decision was based on her Christian beliefs."

"They are just happy they can use the name that they gave the child and not the one that was picked by the judge," Davis says of the boy's parents. "I felt all along that if the chancellor followed the law, this was the decision he would reach."

The mother has dropped any dispute over Messiah's last name.

Messiah was the 387th most popular name for boys born in the United States in 2012, based on applications for Social Security cards filed with the U.S. Social Security Administration.

In all, there were 762 applications for boys named Messiah in 2012, more than double the 368 applications made in 2011, the Social Security Administration said.


Reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by David Bailey, Bernard Orr

© 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Great Resources to help you excel in 2019! #1 John Eckhardt's "Prayers That..." 6-Book Bundle. Prayer helps you overcome anything life throws at you. Get a FREE Bonus with this bundle. #2 Learn to walk in the fullness of your purpose and destiny by living each day with Holy Spirit. Buy a set of Life in the Spirit, get a second set FREE.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
Charisma — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit