How far can the judicial system go when it comes to decisions about your children? Can a judge rename your child without your input? A judge in Tennessee did just that. The judge has ordered parents who named their son Messiah to change it. The case first came to the court because the mother and father, who were not married, could not agree on whose last name the child should take.
The judge ordered that the child take the last name of both parents, but made another surprising decision by deciding Thursday that the baby, Messiah DeShawn Martin, should be renamed “Martin DeShawn McCullough.”
“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,” Ballew said, according to WBIR-TV.
She said she made the decision in the best interests of the child, but observers predicted it’s not likely her order will hold. Many family law experts predict that this decision will not be upheld.
The boy’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, of Newport, Tenn., said she plans to appeal the order and will not stop calling him Messiah.
“I never intended on that — naming my son Messiah because it means God,” she told WBIR-TV. “And I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”
Despite the judge’s opinion about the name Messiah for a child, it was the fourth fastest rising name for boys over a one-year period, according to the Social Security Administration, jumping 246 spots from number 633 in 2011 to number 387 in 2012.
Critics, including the ACLU, claim this was a blatant breach of the parents’ rights to name their child, especially when it wasn’t the issue being presented to the court.