In August, Tennessee parents entered a Cocke County courthouse in order to settle a dispute over the last name of their 8-month-old son, Messiah DeShawn Martin, only to have a judge order his first name be changed for religious reasons.
The child's mother, Jaleesa Martin, appealed the case and was granted permission by another judge – Chancellor Telford E. Forgety Jr. – Wednesday to name her son Messiah, as the lower court's decision violated the U.S. Constitution's establishment clause, reported the Associated Press. Forgety also ordered the child's name be changed to Messiah DeShawn McCullough, per an agreement between the parents.
A paternity hearing in July was held to settle a dispute over whether Messiah's last name should honor his mother, Jaleesa Martin, or the father, Jawaan McCullough, reported the Tennessean.
Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew originally ruled the child's name should remain Messiah Martin, but called a second hearing in August where she ruled the child's name should be changed to Martin DeShawn McCullough, incorporating both last names of the parents and removing any possible blasphemous connotations.
Ballew said her decision was justified because the name could "put him at odds" with the community's large Christian population, and that the name "Messiah" is a title reserved for Jesus Christ.