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Judge orders baby’s first name changed from ‘Messiah’

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Posted at 10:18 AM, Aug 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-12 10:18:01-04

A Tennessee mother is appealing a judge's decision ordering her to change her son's first name.

It all started when the baby's parents could not agree on a last name.

At 7 months old Jaleesa Martin's son is teething and ready to crawl, but his name is still up for debate.

His birth certificate reads 'Messiah Deshawn Martin."

But Jaleesa and the father could not agree on a last name, which is how they ended up at a child support hearing in Cocke County Chancery Court.

Child Support Judge LuAnn Ballew ordered his name be changed to 'Martin McCullough.'

It includes both parents' last names - but leaves out 'Messiah.'

"I thought out into the future."

"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."

Martin 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."

It's the first time Judge Ballew has ordered a first name change.

She says the decision is best for the child, growing up in a county with a large Christian population.

"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," says Judge Ballew.

"Everybody believes what they want," says Martin, "So I think I should be able to name my child what I want to name him."