Judge Orders Mother Change Her Baby’s Name From Messiah To Martin

August 12, 2013  |  

Source: WBIR

We often joke about the weird or “hood” names people tend to give their children. But at the end of the day, most of us understand that in most cases, people should have the right to name their children whatever they want.

But apparently, a Tennessee judge didn’t see it that way. Child Magistrate, Lu Ann Ballew ordered that 7 month old Messiah Deshawn Martin’s name be changed to Martin DeShawn McCullough. Messiah or Martin’s parents were in court for a child support question, when the baby’s last name came into question. Judge Ballew ruled that Messiah could cause the little boy problems growing up in a predominately Christian area.

“It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has no choice in what his name is.” 

That argument is quite interesting considering that this particular Messiah wouldn’t be the first child to be named such. According to the US Social Security Administration, 700 babies were named Messiah just last year. (And then there’s T.I.’s son Messiah who you can see on television every week.)

The name change she ordered includes both parents’ last names. She continued explaining her decision.

“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.” 

In the Christian religion Jesus is regarded as the messiah, the savior of humanity, while in Judaism that person has yet to appear. Today, the dictionary defines messiah as “one who is anticipated as, regarded as, or professes to be a savior or liberator.”

Messiah/Martin’s mother, Jalessa Martin says that she chose the name because she liked the way it sounded and it went with her other children’s names Micah and Mason.

In an interview with NBC affiliate WBIR, Martin said she would appeal the decision.

“I didn’t think a judge could change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”


Watch the video of the mother, son and Judge Ballew explaining her decision below.


What do you think about this judge’s decision?

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  • J Mc

    So much for separation of church and state…..

  • Shani Bernard

    this is crazy absurd! To much government regulation!

  • KTyonS

    Isn’t there supposed to be a separation of church and state??? This was totally not a decision for her to make!!!

    • Chas

      If the state can decide who can marry im sure they can change someones name lol

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    What about all the Latina mothers walking around callin’ their babies “Jesus” or Heh-soos! I don’t see anybody calling them about. If you’re gonna order a name change against her, you best be fair and order a name-change against every Christ, Jesus, Messiah, Mohammad, and Jehovah out there. I think the PROBLEM here is that she herself think she’s the Messiah marchin’ around town changin’ people’s names in the name of the lord. HAVE SEVERAL SEATS!

  • Chas

    I’m so gonna get down voted for this
    but as someone with a silly name I’m glad someone stepped in lol The name is
    gonna follow him through college and job and credit applications and that can
    be a potential obstacle

    • UnpopularOpinion

      It’ll be a pain in the butt, but if he wants, the boy can always legally change his name later. It’s not the judge’s place to step in.

      And I think it’s backwards that we’re not questioning why people are basing employment on something so superficial as one’s name rather than one’s skills and experience….

      • Chas

        Yea it sucks but its how it goes sometimes. Thats why its best to prepare a child for the world we live in and not the one we wish we lived in. I would love to name my child Sugar Face Sandwhich but anyone behind an application may judge my child for that, not to mention the ridicule they would go through in school. Its not the judges place to step in but in the long run that child was done a favor.

  • Theresa P.

    A little black child named Messiah! It’s all in the colour y’all!
    Guess one black Messiah is enough for this world.

  • CKB

    Gotta love separation of church and state!

  • Overstepping

    The only time I heard a story of this nature and agreed with it was when parents named their son Adolf Hitler. In that case it was detrimental to the child, in this case it is infringement on the parents rights to name their child as they see fit.

  • sammi_lu

    She should have reserved her bible-thumping opinion out of a ruling that had nothing to do with the matter at hand. It’s a shame these parents were even in court behind something as silly as this to begin with.

  • Ona2684

    How is that even legal?

  • NatashaDecemberBabyThomas

    Hold up! In slavery, the white men took our names which was given from our ancestors and then changed it to white names and this was centuries ago. Now in 2013, a white judge is gonna tell me what to name MY baby, hell no! In that case, they need to come down on Hispanics naming their kids Jesus and Guadalupe, which are also religious names. I hope this mom appeals and wins!

  • Trisha_B

    That baby’s smile!! Look at his lil teeth lol, he’s so cute

    People need to mind their business when it comes to other people kid names. This goes Leila Ali, this judge, & others. Keep your opinion to yourself. The name is not promoting hate (like the fools who name their baby Hitler) & not named after a product (like the person who named their baby facebook, or those who name their baby Alizé). Its a common name. Messiah is a nice name. That name not gonna bring on judgment or bullies like the judge wants to believe. There are a ton of kids who have names that come from the bible, should they all be required to change their name? Smh plus the mom has another child w/ a name from the bible, Micah. I like moms naming choice for all her kids, nice names.

  • Guest

    This is precisely why I DO NOT advocate parents running to the courts because they cant get along. Once those mofos get in your business, they feel like they know better than you as a parent. This is especially true if you are black, and please trust they really don’t care about your black child. I have seen it with my own eyes, judges getting way to personally attached to cases. Please work it out amongst yourselves before you take each other to court.

  • Erin O’Riordan

    Not your child? Not your business then.

  • Justin Effing La Plante

    This judgement is entirely unconstitutional and ILLEGAL. You can not make an establishment of faith as law in the united states. simple as that. If the state supreame court doesnt shoot it down the US supreame court will. Jesus is a fictional character anyway. I dont undertsand why this news organization is missing the simple legal FACT of the matter here.

  • Ms_Mara

    Has this judge never heard of the separation of church and state? Or the first amendment? Talk about an abuse of power. This is not slavery, Lu Ann! Just ridiculous.

  • Sarah Nell Smith-Zabala

    This infuriates me, needs a better lawyer and I would personally sue the judge. how doe she know that the mom did not name him messiah because he was like a savior to her, maybe his life helped her through some very difficult times. what people name their children is very personal, it is not anyones business what a childs first name is except the parent SMH. So angry over this :-/

    • guest13

      not that I ma defending the judge but the mother clearly stated that she liked the way the name sounded. so no it doesn’t have any deep meaning

  • Yaasmiyn Reed

    I dont agree with the judge she over stepping her legal bounds appeal and take that higher!

  • clwa0303

    Wow. That’s just wrong. Zettai, I thought the same thing in regards to the name Jesus. I hope mom wins the appeal

  • Issa

    Using your religious beliefs to force someone to change their child’s name is wrong on so many levels, so anyone named Jesus or Mary according to her beliefs should have their name changed too.

  • kierah

    The judge overstepped her bounds. The child’s first name was not even up for her consideration.

  • Zettai

    She needs a better lawyer. Jesus and Guadalupe are religious names but they’re also very popular. The dad is a piece of sh*t for doing this, too.

    • Trisha_B

      What did the dad do? I can’t view the video

    • Breeze

      People accept those names because they come with an accent #doublestandards

  • Hogan

    ARRRH that child’s name has nothing to do with the judge