Baby called Messiah can keep his name, says judge

US magistrate who wanted to force parents to change their child's name has been overruled

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A Tennessee magistrate’s ruling that baby Messiah’s parents had to change his name to Martin has been quashed.

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A higher court has ruled that the magistrate had acted “unconstitutionally” – and that seven-month-old Messiah can now keep his name.

Last month, child-support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered baby Messiah’s parents to change his name to Martin. She said, “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.”

But Chancellor Telford Forgety has now said that there were no legal reasons for changing the baby’s name.

Messiah’s parents went to court initially because they couldn’t decide whose last name to give him. His mother, Jaleesa Martin, wanted him to take hers, while his father, Jawaan McCullough, wanted him to take his.

Once they were in court, though, Lu Ann Ballew, said that a baby being called Messiah would be “put at odds” with the predominately Christian community in which he lived.

“Labelling this child Messiah places an undue burden on him that, as a human being, he cannot fulfill,” she said.

Her conclusion was that he should be named Martin DeShawn McCullough.

His mother, Jaleesa, was shocked at the decision. “I want to name him, not someone else,” she said at the time.

She is delighted that the decision has been overruled. Her baby’s name is now officially Messiah DeShawn McCollough.

The popularity of the name Messiah is growing in the US. According to social security data, in 2012, it was the 387th most popular name for boys.

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