Maybe “Allah” Would Have Been Okay

File under: Just kill me now.

A couple–evidently unmarried–went to court because they couldn’t agree on which of their last names to give their baby. Granted, this does not seem to bode well for future family amity, and does seem to call into question the parents’ common sense.

But they would seem to be paragons of rational behavior in comparison with Judge Lu Ann Ballew, who ordered the parents of 7-month-old Messiah DeShawn Martin to change the baby’s name to Martin DeShawn McCullough.

Why this order? What conceivable business does a Judge have interfering with a parent’s right to name a baby? Glad you asked.

“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.

Ballew even ruled that the parents had to go back and change the baby’s name on the birth certificate.

Now, I note that this throwback to a time when members of the nobility could name the children of the peasants who worked their land (and sample a bride’s ‘favors’ before turning her back to the bridegroom) does not appear to be a genuine Judge; she is identified in the news reports as a Child Support Magistrate. She has, however, been allowed to exercise judicial authority, despite the fact that she has quite obviously never encountered the Constitution, Rule of Law principles, or the 21st Century.

The baby’s stunned mother is quoted as saying, “I didn’t think a judge could make me change my baby’s name because of her religious beliefs.”

Of course, in the world inhabited by sane people, she can’t.

Now, granted, a kid named “Messiah” is going to have some dicey moments. But he should be able to grow up and blame his parents for his problems like everybody else.


  1. While “Messiah” is not a name I would choose for a child, it certainly is none of my business and the judge is AGAIN overstepping boundaries of separation of church and state which has become the norm in this country. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,…” says Amendment 1 of the Constitution of the United States of America. The name “Messiah” indicates the parent’s religious establishment of choice and the judge invented her own law to force her religious beliefs on American citizens. Abuse of power!

    If someone with legal authority wants to insert their knowledge and authority into names on birth certificates; they should look into Indiana’a adoption laws. When a child is adopted in this state, the birth mother’s name is legally removed in court and replaced with the adoptive mother’s name as having given birth which changes the child’s name as well as using false information on a legal document. It matters not that the adoptive parent and the child do NOT want this change made. My daughter had to chose to adopt her granddaughter or be forced to put her into foster care with strangers after her daughter, the child’s mother, died. This is another quirk in Indiana law which needs to be looked into as legally enforced name change is only part of the problem. My daughter and great-granddaughter (age 6) opted to hyphenate her last name, maintaining her birth mother’s last name but this was an option they were legally forced to make. I’m sure the founding fathers and who labored over the Constitution and authors of the Indiana Constitution couldn’t foresee the need to govern people maintaining – or being forced to change – their names. They were concerned with important issues governing this country and individual states.

  2. I neglected to include the information that my daughter is a licensed foster parent; relatives may foster a child only temporarily then must to decide to adopt of put the child into foster care with strangers. This is an unfair and legally questionable option.

  3. Does anyone know how this question even came to the court’s attention? Or was this the resolution of the couple’s dispute mentioned in the lead?

  4. David,

    Sounds like they were fighting over the child’s last name when the judge sua sponte raised the issue of the child’s first name and said it wasn’t allowed. That’s what I gathered from the article.

  5. Apparently the “Judge” doesn’t know that “Christ” wasn’t a family name, but rather a “title” – meaning, of course, “Messiah”. Jesus Christ is a shortening of Jesus the Christ. During his lifetime, he was most likely referred to as Yeshuah ben Yosef, Jesus son of Joseph – not that the “Judge” would care.

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