The parents who wanted to name their baby boy “Messiah” but were told they couldn’t by a Tennessee judge have received some support from a perhaps unexpected camp — a traditional family group with a Christian-based mission.
Tim Wildmon, who heads the American Family Association, a group that promotes traditional family values, said that while he agreed “with the judge’s sentiments, ‘that the only true Messiah is Jesus Christ,’ [he didn’t think] a judge should be able to rule on what parents could name their child.”
The issue has grabbed the attention of a national audience.
The parents of Messiah DeShawn Martin went to court to establish paternity and change the baby’s last name to McCullough. The judge, however, Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew, said the boy’s first name had to be changed to Martin DeShawn McCullough also because “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,” she said, to local media stations.
The judge also said, “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 declined to comment further on her decisions. But the boy’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, said in an ABC report that she’s appealing the forced name change and, in the meantime, will not quit calling him Messiah.
“I never intended on that, naming my son Messiah because it means God,” she said, to WBIR-YV. “And I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”
AFA Director Bryan Fischer, meanwhile, said in an ABC report that “you think of the number of Hispanic parents that name their child Jesus, that originated out of a desire to honor the person of Jesus Christ.”