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October 4, 2015 / 21 Tishri, 5776
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Religious Right and ACLU Protest Judge’s No Messiah Ruling

The name would impose an "undue burden on him that as a human being he cannot fulfill," the judge wrote.
Baby Messiah aka Martin

Baby Messiah aka Martin

It began when Jaleesa, 22, took the father of her baby, Jawaan P. McCullough, 40, to family court in Tennessee, to establish paternity and to set child support. Oh, and the baby’s name was Messiah, according to the LA Times.

In court it was revealed that the father had wanted to name the baby Jawaan P. McCullough Jr., but he no longer objected to calling the boy Messiah Deshawn. But the judge decided to change the baby’s name anyway.

“It is not in this child’s best interest to keep the first name ‘Messiah,'” Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew wrote in her decision. “‘Messiah’ means Savior, Deliverer, the One who will restore God’s Kingdom. ‘Messiah’ is a title that is held by only Jesus Christ.”

An entire Jewish family of Iraqi extract named Mashiach would argue differently, but you don’t get many Iraqi Jews in Tennessee. But even without that Iraqi-Jewish input, “Messiah” is an increasingly popular American baby name, according to the LA Times, as are the names Lord and King.

The name would impose an “undue burden on him that as a human being he cannot fulfill,” the judge wrote, although she really didn’t know just how spiritually gifted the baby Messiah was.

She also noted that in Cocke County, Tenn., where the new Messia resides, there is a “large Christian population” as evidenced by its “many churches of the Christian faith.”

“Therefore,” the judge concluded, “it is highly likely that he will offend many Cocke County citizens by calling himself ‘Messiah.'”

Maybe, maybe not – there’s a slew of Jesus’s out there and no one seems to mind, and then, come to think of it, using that same logic, the name David should also irk some people. So the ACLU of Tennessee got on the case, and, surprisingly, received many calls of support from the religious right, which typically threatens to blow up their offices over abortion cases.

“I got the classic call the other day,” Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, told the LA Times. “They said, ‘I really don’t like the ACLU, but I support what you are saying and doing about the baby Messiah.”

UC Davis constitutional law professor Carlton F.W. Larson said the judge’s “entire line of reasoning totally violates basic freedom of religious purposes. This kid can’t be a Messiah because the Messiah is Jesus Christ? Judges don’t get to make pronouncements on the bench about who is the Messiah and who is not.”

The ACLU’s Weinberg agreed: “The judge is crossing the line by interfering in a very private decision and is imposing her own religious faith on this family. The courtroom is not a place for promoting personal religious beliefs, and that’s exactly what the judge did when she changed the baby Messiah’s name to Martin.”

On the other hand, if a certain Miriam from Nazareth had gone ahead and changed her own child’s name to Martin, we’d all be spared a lot of embarrassment…

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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8 Responses to “Religious Right and ACLU Protest Judge’s No Messiah Ruling”

  1. Dan Silagi says:

    Under this logic, it would be illegal to name one's child Menachem, as Menachem Mendel Schneerson is the real Messiah.

  2. Lana Merle says:

    I hope "Messiah" starts using his middle name as soon as he can talk : ).

  3. Gil Gilman says:


  4. Gil Gilman says:

    Soon they will be outlawing the use of the name "Gil" for obvious reasons.

  5. still unless you want to claim this child As the Messiah or the "anointed one" then your reasoning is also false, and the judge is right as the Messiah as in Isaiah chapter 53, is destined to be led to the slaughter to save mankind of their sinfull ways. G-d bless.

  6. sttrange if you are Jewish you dont believe your own prophets?

  7. Why woukld the name David irk some people, it is a noble name as "David's" name does not have the burden to call people to repentance and give glory to the name of the G-d of Israel?

  8. Messianic613 says:

    Names like ‘Messiah’, ‘Lord’ and ‘King’ should better be avoided. One can argue about the decision of the court, however, and its motivation. Perhaps the court could have chosen a more neutral line of reasoning, by declaring that ‘Messiah’, ‘Lord’, ‘King’ &c, are really not names but titles. If one permits these titles as names, then what to do when an blaspheming idiot gives his son the name ‘HaShem”?

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