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Judge rules Tennessee parents can name baby ‘Messiah’

By The Associated Press
Published: September 18, 2013
Messiah Deshawn Martin gets to keep his name after a judge said a previous decision by another judge violated the establisment clause of the U.S. Constitution. ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

NEWPORT, Tenn.— A Tennessee judge said parents can name their 8-month-old baby “Messiah,” overturning the decision of another judge who thought the name was blasphemous.

At a paternity hearing last month, child support magistrate Lu Ann Ballew was asked to decide Messiah Deshawn Martin’s surname. Ballew ended up changing the baby’s first name as well, saying that “Messiah” was a title reserved for Jesus Christ.

On Wednesday, Chancellor Telford E. Forgety Jr. overturned that decision, ruling that the lower court acted unconstitutionally. He said the lower court violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The child’s mother, Jaleesa Martin, expressed relief after the hearing. She said the original ruling was “ridiculous” and that she was glad the court fight is over.