A Tennessee mom is appealing a judge’s decision that her son’s name be changed from Messiah to something else. Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered the child’s name changed to Martin DeShawn McCullough. The new name represents both names of the two parents. The judge commented controversially, “the word Messiah is a title that has only been earned by one person, and that one person is Jesus Christ.” Magistrate Ballew said that she was looking out for the best interest of the child, and that the community in which the child lives and will live will have a significant amount of friction with the name of the baby. The judge mentioned, [the name] could put him at odds with a lot of people, and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is,” according to US News.
Certainly people of all religious backgrounds and cultures have different naming traditions, and of course constitutional rights have been interpreted such that parents feel they are ‘free’ to name their baby whatever they like. Recently, judges have forced parents into naming their children other names than they intended, as some people have taken the ‘freedom’ of baby naming very far. Judges have felt that some names that parents’ have chosen would inadvertently harm the child. Examples of names that judges forced parents to change are, Talula does the Hula, number 16 bus shelter, Midnight Chardonnay, Fish and Chips, Yea Detroit, and a slew of other weird names that some judges think would cause children to have a ‘social disability’ in having a foolish name, according to the New Zealand Guardian.
Judges agree that naming a child too weird of a name hurts the child. The mother of the child commented that she was shocked and that she chose the name so as to alliterate with the names of her other children. She commented, “I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”