Tennessee Judge Orders Mother to Change Baby’s Name from Messiah

BY: - 13 Aug '13 | Home

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Jaleesa Martin was ordered to change her 7-month-old baby boy's name from Messiah to Martin. Reported by WBIR-TV

In Newport, Tennessee, Jaleesa Martin was ordered to change her 7-month-old baby boy’s name from Messiah to Martin. Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered the name change, stating only one person deserved that name, “and that one person is Jesus Christ.”

Baby Messiah’s parents were in court because they could not agree on his last name. Instead of just changing the last name, Judge Ballew ordered the baby’s name to be changed to Martin DeShawn McCullough, which was an inclusion of both parents’ last names.

Martin is appealing the judge’s decision to change her son’s first name. She told WBIR-TV, “I was shocked. 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. Everybody believes what they want so I think I should be able to name my child what I want to name him, not someone else.”

Judge Ballew gave her opinion about the name, stating, “It 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 has two older children named Micah and Mason, and thought the name Messiah, which was 4th in fastest-rising baby names on the Social Security Administration’s 2012 list of popular baby names. Her appeal hearing will be on September 17th.

Check out the video of the interview with Jaleesa Martin below.

BMWK – Let us know your thoughts. Was the judge out of line?  Or, do you agree with her reasoning about the name possibly being an issue for the child at some point?


About the author

Briana Myricks


Briana is a 20 something Social Media Specialist residing in Long Beach. She blogs about women becoming their own role models at My Own Shero.


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9 WordPress comments on “Tennessee Judge Orders Mother to Change Baby’s Name from Messiah

  1. labman57

    The mother’s decision-making seems a tad silly and ill-advised, but the judge’s decision and legal justification are downright scary.

  2. BarbieG

    I am appalled at the fact that someone, particularly a judge, wants to change someone else’s child’s name because of the ramifications they think will be brought upon the child. If that be the case, there are a whole lot of people who should have changed their child’s name.
    Mes·si·ah (m-s)
    1. also Mes·si·as (m-ss) The anticipated savior of the Jews.
    2. also Messias Christianity Jesus.
    3. messiah One who is anticipated as, regarded as, or professes to be a savior or liberator.

    This child could clearly be someone’s savior or liberator because that’s what his name means. He is not Jesus, The Messiah.

    I wonder if this was God’s plan to bring attention to The Messiah. Hmmmm.

  3. MommieDearest

    This is outrageous. This judge clearly overstepped her boundaries. She is perfectly within her rights to dislike the child’s name for whatever reasons, but that is ALL she’s entitled to.

    This situation reminds me of the scene in “Roots” where the massa whipped Kunta Kinte until he called himself by his new name, “Toby.” This judge has ALOT of nerve… I hope the mother appeals this ruling and wins.

    IMO that saddest thing here is that the parents had to go before a judge to decide on the baby’s last name in the first place. I mean, really…. Two adults who agreed to lay down together can’t decide on their own how to name the child they created? Seriously? *smh*

  4. Pingback: Rudolph doesn’t like his name but damn if I’ll allow a judge to change it!

  5. Pingback: How Did You Choose Your Kids Names? - The Good Mother Project

  6. Max Q

    The Black Auth0rity has done some in-depth analysis of this story. The Judge has been “Lynched” from the beginning. There is a custody dispute. So the Judge took Jaleesa Martin’s last name, as a first name and her ex’s last name. If you read the story you’ll see it’s about CHILD SUPPORT! The Judge tried to compromise a name, for the FATHER AND THE MOTHER! Because both parties couldn’t get along!

    This is yet another case of a media trying to stir up tension between minorities and whites. Even though Zimmerman was a Hispanic, and you’ve never heard of Obama being called a White-Black person.

    I encourage everyone to ASK QUESTIONS. The media has an agenda. Don’t be blindsided by attempts from the mainstream press to create a race war.


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