A court order from a Tennessee judge stating that “Messiah” was an unacceptable name for a child was overturned today by another judge. The ruling in the initial case stated that the child’s name should be changed to Martin. “‘Messiah’ is a title that is held only by Jesus Christ,” the judge stated.
The issue of the son’s name arose during a paternity hearing between mother Jaleesa Martin and father Jawaan McCullough. McCullough wanted his son to bear his last name, while Martin wanted him to bear her last name. Rather than focusing on the issue of the child’s surname, child support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered a change to Messiah’s first name. “Labeling this child ‘Messiah’ places an undue burden on him that as a human being, he cannot fulfill,” Ballew explained.
The ruling was overturned in appeal hearing on the basis that it violates the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution (aka separation of church and state). The child’s name was ordered to be changed to Messiah Deshawn McCullough. The parents ultimately agreed on this name, Associated Press reports.
Martin’s attorney Kristi Davis commented on the case’s notoriety and its subsequent impact on civil liberties. “I think it’s truly a recognition by the citizens of our country that when a judge oversteps his or her bounds and infringes on the constitutional rights of the people that come in front of them, it’s something that we don’t like, and it’s something that we pay attention to.”
Martin never stopped calling her son Messiah, according to NewsOne. Messiah is now eight months old.