Home / News from NPR / Judge: Boy In Tennessee Can Keep Name ‘Messiah’
A magistrate last month ordered a different name because she said only Jesus Christ had "earned" the title.

Judge: Boy In Tennessee Can Keep Name ‘Messiah’

By Scott Neuman NPR

A judge has ruled that a Tennessee woman can name her 8-month-old son “Messiah” — a decision that overturns a ruling last month that drew international attention to the boy.

In a paternity hearing in August, Jaleesa Martin and Jawaan McCullough brought a dispute over their son’s surname. Martin had given her son the name Messiah Deshawn Martin, but McCullough wanted the boy to have his last name.

As NPR’s Bill Chappell reported at the time, Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ruled that both of the boy’s names be changed on the birth certificate, telling Knoxville’s WBIR TV: “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 ordered that the child be named Martin DeShawn McCullough.

According to The Associated Press:

“That decision quickly made international news, and the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a complaint against Ballew with the state’s Board of Judicial Conduct. The board has not yet made any public ruling on the complaint.”

A ruling on Wednesday by county Chancellor Telford E. Forgety in Newport, Tenn., overturned Ballew’s decision, allowing the name on the child’s birth certificate to stand.

“Everybody’s just happy,” Martin was quoted by the AP as saying after the ruling. “I’m glad it’s over with.”

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Check Also

Since President Obama took office in 2009, the Predator drone and other aircraft have carried out nearly 500 strikes in areas that aren't in combat zones such as Syria and Afghanistan, according to a new official report.

7 Years Of U.S. Drone And Airstrikes: White House Tallies Civilian Deaths

Between Jan. 20, 2009, and the end of 2015, the White House says, the U.S. carried out 473 airstrikes in places that weren't in "areas of active hostilities" — such as Iraq or Afghanistan.