In Tennessee a 'Messiah' becomes 'Martin'


Baby Jesus dolls are displayed for sale in a souvenir shop in a window near the Vatican on March 18, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.


Christopher Furlong

There is one less Messiah and one more Martin in America today after a Tennessee judge ruled to change an infant's name on what appears to be religious grounds.

The parents of Messiah DeShawn Martin could not agree on their 7-month-old child's last name, but the unusual first name became an issue with Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew.

"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," Judge Ballew said, though in a way that's not exactly true.

Last year in the United States some 700 babies were dubbed "Messiah," according to the BBC, citing Social Security Administration data.

Judge Ballew did offer another reason for her decision: "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, the baby's mother, said she would appeal the verdict. 

"I didn't think a judge could change my baby's name because of her religious beliefs," Martin said.

And in case you were wondering, there is a diverse array of unusual baby names out there, including Hippo, Google, Jazzy, Yoga, Mango, Casanova and so many more

The news first broke from the local broadcaster WBIR-TV. You can watch that report here: