Lifestyle & Belief

Baby Messiah can keep his name, judge rules


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

A judge ruled on Wednesday that baby Messiah, from Tennessee, can keep his name, after a lower court ruled in August that it be changed to Martin.

Chancellor Telford Forgety said that Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew acted unconstitutionally when she ordered the eight-month-old boy's name changed.

She had told the baby's parents, who were disputing their child's last name at a paternity hearing, that Jesus Christ was the only true messiah and that the name might offend the largely Christian population of Cocke County.

"Labeling this child Messiah places an undue burden on him that as a human being, he cannot fulfil," she said in August.

More from GlobalPost: In Tennessee a 'Messiah' becomes 'Martin'

When Forgety overturned the lower court's decision he noted that its purpose was to determine the baby's last name, not his first.

"I was shocked. 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," said Jeleesa Martin, the child's mother.

"I'm just happy — I really don't have nothing to say. I'm just glad it's over with."

The baby's name is now Messiah DeShawn McCollough. McCollough is the father's last name.

Last year alone more than 700 babies were named Messiah in the US.