And now some follow up on the story we reported a few months back on a Bible-reading Tennessee judge who ordered that a couple change the name of their child from "Messiah" to Martin. The controversial ruling was elevated to a court of appeals, and the judge was cited for “religious bias,” reports Reuters via MSN on Saturday.
Evidently, the parents of the boy, who was already 7-months old at the time, appeared before Tennessee Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew in August because mom and dad could not come to agreement on the last name for their son: Messiah DeShawn Martin / McCullough .
Judge Ballew did render a decision on the last name, but also made some changes to the boy’s first name as well. She ordered the parents drop the “Messiah,” and replaced the boy’s first name with his last name.
“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,” Ballew said.
Jaleesa Martin, the baby's mother, appeal the decision, stating: “I didn't think a judge could change my baby's name because of her religious beliefs.”
Martin was right.
A Nashville Appeal court panel who reviewed Judge Ballew’s ruling cited “an inappropriate religious bias in violation of the state judicial code of conduct.”
Chancellor Telford Forgety Jr., who headed the three-member review panel, said Ballew's ruling was unconstitutional and that their findings showed “reasonable cause to believe Ballew has committed judicial offenses.” The panel directed Tennessee’s state disciplinary board to file formal charges against Judge Ballew.
So it looks like Messiah gets to keep his name after all. He’s not alone: Reuters said “Messiah” was the 387th most popular name for boys born in the United States last year.