A 7-month-old baby boy's name was changed from "Messiah" to "Martin" last week after a Tennessee judge said the religious moniker "has only been earned by one person… Jesus Christ."
Jaleesa Martin, of Newport, Tenn., and the child's father were in court Thursday to settle a dispute over the baby's last name. They never expected a judge to take issue with the first name "Messiah."
But Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew did, and ruled that the baby's name be changed to Martin DeShawn McCullough, which includes both parent's last names.
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"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," the judge said. "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."
Jaleesa Martin said she never intended for the name to have religious meaning. She just liked the way "Messiah" sounded along with her other two kid's names, Micah and Mason.
"I was shocked," she told local NBC affiliate WBIR.com.
"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."
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Martin said she plans to appeal the judge's decision.
"Everybody believes what they want so I think I should be able to name my child what I want to name him, not someone else," she said.
A WBIR reporter later asked Ballew what she thought about children who have the name "Jesus."
"That's not relevant to this case," she said.
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