A Tennessee judge's decision to bar a couple from naming their child Messiah drew the attention of people across the nation.
The child's parents appeared in the Cocke County Chancery Court room of Lu Ann Ballew, child support magistrate, because they could not agree on a last name for Messiah Deshawn. Ballew ordered Jaleesa Martin to change her son's name to Martin DeShawn McCullough, leaving out Messiah.
“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 told the 7-month-old's parents.
Readers of The Oklahoman were asked to share their opinions on the judge's ruling. Among the responses:
Colleen Walker, Edmond, United Methodist: I think the judge overstepped her authority with the judgment to disallow the mother to name her child as the mother desires. There is no lawful basis for a judge to decide on a child's name. Because a person may be named Messiah does not mean that the person is The Messiah as appointed by God. Many people are named biblical proper names as well as names of locations, etc., mentioned in the Bible without the implication that a person is the actual Moses, David, Noah, Esther, Egypt or Bethany. I regret that this issue has caused hard feelings among many people without a good reason.
Robert Hanna, Choctaw, Unitarian: Judge Ballew was committing an act of judicial injustice and abuse of office when she took it upon herself to exceed her authority by changing baby Messiah's name against the mother's wishes. When the judge explained her “reasoning,” she crossed over into imposing her religious beliefs. She should be removed from office for this outrageous discrimination.