Laws about Baby Names?
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Baby Messiah: Tennessee judge orders baby's name to changed from Messiah to Martin since Jesus Christ is the only true messiah.

    A legal fight over a Tennessee baby's last name took an unexpected turn late last week when a judge ruled that the parents of the seven-month-old boy must change his first name. The issue, at least as Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew saw it, was that the child's name was "Messiah," a moniker Ballew believes should be reserved only for Jesus Christ. Here's local NBC affiliate station WBIR-TV with more of the judge's logic:
    "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. ? According to Judge Ballew, it is the first time she has ordered a first name change. She said the decision is best for the child, especially while 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.
    The judge's solution: Changing "Messiah DeShawn Martin" to "Martin DeShawn McCullough." But, as you would expect, that doesn't mean mother Jaleesa Martin is happy with the name change. Martin said she originally decided on Messiah for her son because it was a unique-sounding name that seemed to fit in nicely with her two older children's names, Micah and Mason. "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," Martin told WBIR-TV. "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." She is now appealing Judge Ballew's decision.


    While the judge's ruling is surprising ? after all, more than 700 babies were named Messiah in 2012 without any issue ? it's worth noting that a few other countries have even more aggressive baby-naming policies. In Germany, for example, first names must reflect the gender of the child, and not endanger the "well-being" in any way. And in Sweden, a 1982 law that banned non-noble families from giving their kids any type of noble name still stands. And as CNN notes, that's not all to the law: "First names shall not be approved if they can cause offense or can be supposed to cause discomfort for the one using it, or names which for some obvious reason are not suitable as a first name." The names Metallica, Superman, Veranda, Ikea and Elvis were all rejected by the Swedish government, while Lego and Google (used as a middle name) were accepted.

    Debate questions:
    1. Specific to this case, was the judge right to change the name of the baby from Messiah to Martin?
    2. In general, do you think it's a good idea to let people name children anything they want, or do you support there being some limits? For example, if I wanted to name my child Adolph Hitler or Vagina or JKHHUTUFT do you think that I should be allowed, or do you think that the government should step in?
    3. Any other thoughts?
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alissa_Sal View Post
    Debate questions:
    1. Specific to this case, was the judge right to change the name of the baby from Messiah to Martin?
    2. In general, do you think it's a good idea to let people name children anything they want, or do you support there being some limits? For example, if I wanted to name my child Adolph Hitler or Vagina or JKHHUTUFT do you think that I should be allowed, or do you think that the government should step in?
    3. Any other thoughts?
    I saw this this morning and thought of posting it.

    1. I think the judge should be able to say that a name is not appropriate, but he should not get to chose the new name.
    2. There are names that I think should be off limits, but only in very select situations.

    ~Bonita~

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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    I don't think that this particular ruling holds water. I don't think that the word "Messiah" is typically considered offensive, even if you don't like that appelate applied to someone other than your particular messiah. Also, if she has a problem with "Messiah" would she also try to change all of the Latino babies named "Jesus?" I think some people consider naming their child after Jesus to be a way of honoring Jesus. And I think that falls under religious freedom.

    Having said that, I can see ordering the child's name to be changed if it were widely considered offensive to the point of creating real harm for the child. Like, if I named my kid "eff-face" (only, you know, the actual word, not just "eff") then I think that the courts would have cause to step in and say that this was placing too much of a mental health burden on the child.

    I actually know someone who named her son "Savior" which is along the same lines. But knowing her a little bit, I'm pretty sure it was meant to honor her Christian beliefs.
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    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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    Posting Addict KimPossible's Avatar
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    I don't think the judge should have demanded a name change in this case. Her opinion of who is the Messiah or what it means should not play into the name of this child. I get her point about it possible causing problems with some christians, but that is the mother's decision. I personally wouldn't do that to my child.

    But you know, i went to college with a guy named God Shamgod....and I'm thinking that any potential 'issue' created from such a name is being overblown and exaggerated.

    I could see a potential time when maybe it would seem appropriate to step in. I mean if it was very deliberately offensive to a certain group of people...which is different than someone taking offense, just to be clear.

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    Don't we have first amendment rights anymore? A. This would violate the endorsement of religion clause because this judge is clearly endorsing Christianity. B. Freedom of speech would extend to your name.

    This is a very, very bad road to go down. One judge thinks Messiah isn't okay. What happens when another judge rules Madonna, Muhammad, or Abraham are not appropriate names? I have had students who have very unique names such as Master. Which I guess technically would also be a title and not a name. Should his parents not be allowed to name their child as they see fit?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ethanwinfield View Post
    Don't we have first amendment rights anymore? A. This would violate the endorsement of religion clause because this judge is clearly endorsing Christianity. B. Freedom of speech would extend to your name.

    This is a very, very bad road to go down. One judge thinks Messiah isn't okay. What happens when another judge rules Madonna, Muhammad, or Abraham are not appropriate names? I have had students who have very unique names such as Master. Which I guess technically would also be a title and not a name. Should his parents not be allowed to name their child as they see fit?
    I do not see Messiah in the same category, but I do think there should be off limit names. N.atzi, FU spelled out, God, I can think of other examples. Freedom of speech is not absolute.

    ~Bonita~

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlyssaEimers View Post
    I do not see Messiah in the same category, but I do think there should be off limit names. N.atzi, FU spelled out, God, I can think of other examples. Freedom of speech is not absolute.
    Even the words you mention are protected speech. I can walk around town with the word F... on my shirt. (My SO, who is from Idaho, used have a shirt that read, "God bless America...Except Idaho. F... Idaho.")

    For the most part, parents self-regulate the names they give their children. We don't need laws regulating what I can name my child. And they certainly shouldn't be based on someone else's religion. Celebrities have named their children Countess, Prince, and Apple. Some have changed their names to things such as Metta World Peace. Many men are named Jesus. Is that okay solely because it is pronounced different than Jesus?

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    There should be no intervention from the courts on this, period. The child can change their name if and when they please. I'm with ethanwinfield 100%

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    Not up to the court's. She overstepped her authority.
    Mom to Elizabeth (6) and Corinne (4)

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlyssaEimers View Post
    I do not see Messiah in the same category, but I do think there should be off limit names. N.atzi, FU spelled out, God, I can think of other examples. Freedom of speech is not absolute.
    FU spelled out is a common name in some countries. I would be very angry if I was to immigrate to the US and some ignoramus made my family change our surname.

    I think Messiah is a ridiculous name, but so is Nevaeh. But no judge should have the right to change a child's name when the parents have custody of them.

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