Not this messiah. The other one.
OK, so turns out you can name your kid “Messiah.” That other judge was just blowing off steam about her Jesus love and whatnot. This time it’s for real. “Messiah” is a go.

In a complete up yours to the previous ruling handed down in—of all places, child support court—a higher judge in Tennessee reversed a magistrate’s decision that told Jaleesa Martin she had to change her 8-month-old son’s name from “Messiah.” 

Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew thought “Martin” had a nicer ring to it. Keeping in mind that the parents were in her court because they couldn’t agree on a last name, she apparently felt entitled to weigh in on the baby’s first name, as well. So she went on ahead and solved both problems in one fell swoop by making his mom’s last name his first name and his dad’s last name his last name. Cute.

Alas yesterday, Chancellor Telford E. Forgety Jr. kicked Ballew’s decision, fraught with personal opinion, to the curb and ruled that the lower court acted unconstitutionally. The ACLU had already been barking in defiance and even though the parents were at odds about the last name, everyone was on one page about “Messiah.” They both liked it. Judging by the picture, the baby seems pretty pleased with it. And now the courts are OK with it, too.

So little Messiah is going to become big Messiah. Well, not big Messiah, but a grown-up Messiah. Messiah DeShawn McCollough, to be exact.

His mama is relieved the whole debacle is over, but the case does call into question when, if ever, the government can interfere in the naming of a child without encroaching on civil liberties. Seems like a slippery, court-case-addled slope.

“Messiah” is controversial, true. But New Zealand’s department of internal affairs had to cut the parents of the potential “Lucifer,” “V8,” and just flat out “Christ” off at the pass. Also rejected were “Fish and Chips” (for twins, of course), “Keenan Got Lucy,” and “Sex Fruit.” “Violence,” however, was cleared, making “Messiah” seem almost basic.

This, too, since there’s a human being running around the world named “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116.” Yes, it looks like the characters on a very long butt dial. Nonetheless, it’s pronounced “Albin.” That ought to challenge the phonetic abilities of every teacher, boss, job interviewer, date, and roommate for the rest of his live long days. He’ll be due to the courthouse for a formal name change on his 18th birthday, for sure.

Clearly, there should be limitations on what names parents can impose on their children. At least, if they expect them to operate as average, productive citizens without the burden of a name that elicits gasps of outrage or blank stares of confusion. “Messiah” may be on the fence but that certainly invites even more controversial, crazy, and downright nonsensical creations. (Please see above.)

Do you think “Messiah” should’ve stayed banned?


Image via  E. I. Sanchez/Flickr