The following news item is not a joke, spoof or parody.
A Tennessee couple who couldn't agree on a last name for their infant son ended up in front of a Bible thumping judge who ordered that they change the boy's first name from Messiah to a more acceptable name for black boy's: Martin.
Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew ordered Jaleesa Martin and the father of the 7-month-old boy to change his name to "Martin DeShawn McCullough," because it includes both parent's last names. Judge Bellow was unhappy with the child's first name because, according to her, only "one person" has ever been named Messiah.
"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 from her bench in the Cocke County Chancery Court on Thursday.
"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 Martin.
But Bellow said it was the "right decision" for a child "growing up in a county with a large Christian population."
"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," Judge Ballew said.
"Everybody believes what they want so I think I should be able to name my child what I want to name him, not someone else," said Martin whose 2 other children are named Micah and Mason.
Bellow said the parents will have to change Messiah's name to Martin. But Messiah's mother plans to appeal the judge's decision to a higher court.
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