Judge Says That Baby ‘Messiah’ Will Have to Change His Name Because He’s Not Jesus Christ

Jaleesa Martin and her son’s father went to court on Thursday expecting the judge to settle their 7-month-old child Messiah DeShawn Martin‘s last name.

Instead, Judge Lu Ann Ballew changed the baby’s first name, too:

Messiah DeShawn Martin (WBIR)

Judge Ballew ordered the 7-month-old’s name be “Martin DeShawn McCullough.” It includes both parent’s last names but leaves out Messiah.

“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.

Ballew went on to say this was best for the baby since the family lived in such a religious area.

But who the hell does she think she is? What if this was a Hispanic couple with a baby named Jesus? Or a Muslim family with a baby named Mohammed? Would they all have to change their names, too? And what about Christopher?

Actually, a reporter asked Ballew what she would do if a baby were named Jesus (in the video above). Ballew’s response?

Hmm… Well, I’ve thought about that as well… um… and that’s not relevant to this case.

She’s thought about it and her best answer is a deflection of the question.

Messiah is not an offensive name. As far as crazy unique baby names go, it could be much worse. And it wasn’t even the issue at hand! It was the most clear case you’ll ever see of a judge letting her religious beliefs override the law.

By the way, “Messiah” isn’t even that unusual of a name. The Social Security Administration puts it in the top 1,000 male baby names in the U.S. for each of the past several years.

Hemant appears somewhere far, far below that. I see how it is…

Martin will be appealing the judge’s decision in mid-September.

(Thanks to everyone for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Mitch

    Apparently the name is getting more popular. Good or bad trend?

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I’d say that it shows growing irreverence towards religion, and thus a good sign.

  • Colin Rosenthal

    What if the judge had stuck to the argument that the name wasn’t in the baby’s interest, without bringing in the claim that it was also false advertising?

    • Yoav

      She would have to provide an actual, reality based, argument that the child is likely to be harmed if he’s named Messiah.

  • Oranje

    I keep having to check the calendar to make sure this one isn’t an elaborate joke.

    I’m baffled that any judge would let fly like this. Well, except for that one down in Alabama.

  • compl3x

    Silly name, sillier judge.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    I wrote about this last night, and it was so dumb I couldn’t even come up with an adequate comment to express the dumbness. Like Oranje, I thought it might be a joke, and I kept Googling to make sure that yes, it really was being reported on real websites.

    The good news here is that the mother is appealing, and I can’t imagine this not being overturned. This seems like a clear overreach on the part of the judge to me. Putting the religious aspect of the judge’s comments aside, to my knowledge judges can’t just arbitrarily change a child’s name without the consent of the parents (especially not a name that’s demonstrably growing in popularity and is far from unique).

    “What if the judge had stuck to the argument that the name wasn’t in the baby’s interest…”

    It’d still be stupid. There are all sorts of silly names out there (North West is an obvious example, but there are plenty of others). If we try to ban every name that can cause a kid grief, there won’t be any names left.

    • 3lemenope

      …to my knowledge judges can’t just arbitrarily change a child’s name without the consent of the parents…

      They can if they perceive substantial disruption or danger to the child following from the name. Naming your kid an expletive or after a mass murderer are good ways to get a court to change your kid’s name.

      (especially not a name that’s demonstrably growing in popularity and is far from unique)

      And of course, despite the above, your parenthetical here sums up exactly how stupid this particular case is.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      The bad news is that appeals typically cost a minimum of several thousand dollars. Complacent, corrupt judges like this one will hand out inappropriate judgments according to their personal beliefs or moods, counting on their victims to be unable to afford an appeal, and smugly “punishing” them financially even if they do.

      • UWIR

        And they’re immune from civil suits.

  • Tim

    Plenty of countries have restrictions on the names parents can give children. Some like Iceland even have an approved list you must choose from.
    But I would have thought that America would be last place to have such restrictions.

  • viaten

    “And what about Christopher?” And what about Christine, or Christian?

    • pagansister

      My niece’s name is Christine and believe me, her parents are NOT religious.

      • allein

        My coworker was informed that her daughter’s name (first and middle together) means “gift from God” or something. She had no idea and thinks it’s pretty funny.

  • CodeMonkeys

    I’d rather the kid be named Messiah than North West…

  • Baby_Raptor

    Freedom: Only for Christers.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      *Only for WHITE Christers.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        *STRAIGHT WHITE MALE ABLEBODIED Christers.

  • eric

    Well, on plus side, it’ll be overturned after about 2 seconds’ consideration by the appeals court and the kid will end up with a nice set of articles about him that he can bring up in show and tell whe he’s older.
    On the minus side, this idiot judge just cost both the parents and city a bunch of unnecessary legal fees.

    • Bender

      I don’t know. On the one hand, the judge obviously overstep, and
      impossed her stupid beliefs on that family. On the other hand, I think
      the boy is better off being called “Martin” than “Messiah”.

      • Stan

        The point is that it isn’t important what you happen to think makes the child “better off.” It’s what the parents think that matters. I agree that the name “Messiah” is idiotic, but it’s not my (or any member of the judiciary’s) place to insist that it be changed, especially as a result of some ignorant judge’s delusional religious perspective.

        • allein

          Especially since we don’t have naming laws like New Zealand and some other countries do.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            We could really use some naming laws in the US. At the very least, to prevent people from giving their kids ridiculous and inappropriate names (such as ESPN…)

            • Nancy Shrew

              I think kids should at least be allowed to change their names before eighteen without parental consent.

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                Good idea, but we’d have to find a way to keep every four-year old from renaming themselves Spiderman McFruitfly (or something equally ridiculous and imaginative).

                • Nancy Shrew

                  Yeah. It would also be good for trans kids.

                • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                  That it would.

      • UWIR

        On a purely euphonic basis, it seems pretty nice to me. Like “Mariah”, just one letter changed.

      • Randay

        Maybe the Judge was overreacting because she changed her own name from the original Hulla Bellew.

    • Fred

      I can only think that this may be one of those areas where the citizens vote on whether to retain a judge for service after every few years. This one may want to make a mark where the religiousidiots will remember and vote to retain them.

  • NewEnglandBob

    Someone needs to change that judge’s first name to: Brain-Dead-Control-Freak.

  • Tainda

    *twitch*

    • EvolutionKills

      Every time I see *twitch*, in my head it’s immediately followed by…

      • Tainda

        And that is definitely my *twitch* definition lol Nailed it!

  • Brian Westley

    Messiah is even more popular than Matt; looks like Matt Damon’s parents have some ‘splaining to do…

    • flyb

      The odder thing is that Mr. Damon appears to have both arms and both legs. The name “Matt” should not be allowed for him. A judge should have changed it.

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

        Michael is going to have words with you.

        • Tainda

          This made me snort laugh

      • Baby_Raptor

        Missing limbs is a requirement for the name Matt?

        My boyfriend is screwed…

        • Tainda

          VERY old (and distasteful) joke lol

          • Ross Thompson

            What do you call a man with no arms or legs?
            Matt.

            What do you call man with no arms or legs swimming the English Channel?
            Bob.

            What do you call a man with no arms or legs playing the piano?
            Clever Dick.

            I’ll stop there.

            • Tainda

              Have never heard the Clever Dick one. HAHAHA

        • UWIR

          Do you at least lie on top of him?

  • Jasper

    This is breathtakingly unconstutional. The judge shoudl lose her seat and be disbarred.

  • A3Kr0n

    That judge needs a little miracle tree water.

  • Martin

    Judge could have argued that he’s not the Messiah, just a very naughty boy!

    • Highlander

      Upvote for Life of Brian reference.

      • busterggi

        Always!

  • viaten

    It seems there should be some line drawn on baby names based on some kind of acceptability, but I’m not sure what it would be. But the judge’s argument of “earned title” seems rather silly. Messiah seems to fit in with other biblical names like Jeremiah, Isaiah, etc.

    • 3lemenope

      There are public policy exceptions that sometimes get applied to certain classes of names. Judges do have latitude to alter names that are likely to cause massive disruption or place the child so named at great risk of actual harm. The usual examples are trying to name one’s kid “Adolf” or “Motherfucker”.

      “Messiah” is nowhere close to these sorts of exceptions. As in, not even on the same planet.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        A couple did name their kid Adolf Hitler and a judge didn’t force them to change the name. It happened in New Jersey.

        A month earlier, the family drew attention when a supermarket refused to decorate a birthday cake for their son, Adolf Hitler Campbell.

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1300914/U-S-couple-lose-custody-children-Nazi-inspired-names.html

        • 3lemenope

          In the Adolf Hitler Campbell case, the judge didn’t force them to change the name immediately, but it should be noted eventually took the Campbell’s children away from them due mostly to concrete conditions in the home and generally disturbing behavior, such as showing up to the custody hearing in a Nazi uniform and other signs of abuse and neglect. The records are sealed–family court–so we don’t know for sure that the judge then changed the names after the removal, but given that that was among the many reasons for the removal, it is extremely likely.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

            I know they kids where taken away and I hope the child’s name was changed. I just didn’t know if you had heard about the story.

        • UWIR

          “A couple did name their kid Adolf Hitler and a judge didn’t force them to change the name. It happened in New Jersey.”
          And in Austria.

          • 3lemenope

            *rimshot*

      • WoodyTanaka

        There is nothing inherently wrong with the name “Adolf.” People need to grow the fuck up.

        • Anat

          What about Hitler as a middle name though?

        • Ross Thompson

          You have to admit, it has some pretty specific connotations these days, though.

      • viaten

        I have no objection to the name Messiah. It sounds very much like a “name” as opposed to something that would have very negative social implications. I can see offensive words being ruled against, but I can’t completely rule out Adolf. People don’t have a problem with “Adolf’s Meat Tenderizer”. Is Benito in the same category as Adolf? It seems like a strange “honor” for a notorious person to have their name “retired”. But if it’s a common name, like Joseph Stalin, it seems there’s no issue.

        • Whirlwitch

          My objection is that I can see this kid being called Messy throughout his school career. Which I’m not even remotely claiming is enough for legal intervention.

          • viaten

            There’s also names like “Dick” which are perfectly fine. But people, especially teens and kids, will always try to make something of a name if they can, but that’s not the child’s or parents’ problem. Hopefully the kid can laugh it off well and maybe make others feel stupid if they’re making too much crude fun of it. On a related note, though I like the jokes, I have a little sympathy for Anthony Weiner right now, but when your a public figure, such jokes are to be expected.

          • wombat

            I may have said this somewhere else, but Messi is a football legend. But then, being that he’s in America, there’s a good chance neither he nor his future bully will know much about football.

  • Psychotic Atheist

    Messiah is not even a title that only one person earned. Any anointed king of Israel would be correctly referred to as a Messiah. The Christians had to go through some hoops to call Yeshua a Messiah (saying he was the king of a spiritual kingdom and all that jazz, since he clearly wasn’t the king of any earthly place).

    They say ‘the Messiah’ because the Jews were expecting a particular future Messiah to come and deliver them, not because there has only ever been one.

    • Anat

      Also, Mashiach (messiah) is a not-too-uncommon surname in some Jewish ethnical groups. Is it banned too now?

    • UWIR

      They had to come up with “he’s coming back later to finish the job” to explain why he didn’t fulfill the requirements. I don’t suppose if someone tried to argue before this judge without passing the bar, she would buy the “Well, I’m going to come back later and pass it later on, so how about you let me practice law until then” argument?

  • EvolutionKills

    If you can name your kid after a fruit (Apple), a cardinal direction (North), or a feeling (Hope); then what’s the deal with naming your kid by the anglicized title of ‘anointed one’ (Messiah).

    If I remember correctly, the name was a title that was not limited to exclusive use by the expected Jewish savior, as it was possible for there to have been many ‘anointed ones’. It’s just that their savior would also be one, among other things. If you where a King or High Priest anointed with oil, you where a ‘mashiach’ or ‘messiah’. So not only is this judge completely overreaching, she’s very ignorant of her own faith; what a winning combination…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

      Knowledge of christianity is not requisite for being a christian. Just get saved and then FEEL the power of 2000 years of righteous entitlement flow through your veins.

      • EvolutionKills

        If it was, good money says there would a hell of a lot less of them…

    • Carmelita Spats

      Very true…Greek families name their boys “Christos” which means anointed one/Messiah.

    • McAtheist

      The non religious definition is ‘one who is anticipated to be a liberator or saviour’,

      I still think it’s a dopey name, but I didn’t realize one had to ‘earn’ your name in the US.

    • guest

      Maybe everyone with a name that looks like a title, such as Prince, Duke, Duchess, Queeny, Lourdes, etc., should have their names given to them by this judge too? SMH

      • pagansister

        In the 1980′s I taught with a teacher named Queen—she was a wonderful woman, but just says that “different” names are not that unusual.

        • EvolutionKills

          There is only one Queen, and his name was Freddie Mercury! :P

    • UWIR

      “she’s very ignorant of her own faith”

      She’s Jewish? Christians in general don’t accept the authority of Jews to interpret their own religion correctly.

      • EvolutionKills

        The Bible contains both the Old and New Testament. The Jewish faith is the basis, the foundation, for Christianity. So to truly understand Christianity and it’s origins, you need to understand Judaism and it’s origins. This leads you to the textual criticism, modern archaeology, and the documentary hypothesis. Any Christian who cares enough to put their belief under a microscope will learn that the ancient Hebrew were most likely polytheistic pagans, and their Yahweh started out and evolved from an ancient borrowed desert god of war. This is where the evidence leads, if you care enough to follow it that far.

        Once again, most don’t know or care to know.

    • Randay

      I wonder what the judge would do if the names “Anointed” and “Saviour” came up. Long ago I read a story from Britain about a man who changed his name to “Lord”. He did so because he would get favored treatment for reserving a restaurant table or getting tickets to the opera, etc.

      -Who is calling?
      -Lord McGullible. May I have a table for two on Friday?
      -Of course, my Lord.

      Just wondering, can you use numbers as a first name, not at the end like II, or III? Not written out, but just the number. “3.14 Infinity Smith”.

      • EvolutionKills

        If I was named Pi or Infinity, I’d would totally used the appropriate symbol for my signature.

      • kaadred

        Little boy in my kids’ preschool class was named Savior. His older brother had leukemia (I think) and he was conceived in the hopes that he would be medical match. He wasn’t. The older brother passed away several months ago. I always felt the decision to name him Savior must have been an utter mind fuck for the parents and for him once he was old enough to understand its significance. I think he’d be a good candidate for a judge approving a name change before he came of age.

        • Randay

          I take your point. That is a tough thing to do to a kid.

  • flyb

    Aside from the obvious appeal, is there an additional route the family can take to actually sue the judge in an attempt to recoup court costs? If that is not possible, can they file a complaint against the judge? I am not a lawyer so I hope these questions don’t seem stupid to someone else.

    • baal

      There isn’t a right to sue the judge for the added and unneeded costs. The family’s only recourse on the cost would be a direct petition to the legislature (which isn’t as odd as it sounds).

      If that district has a good chief justice, this case will have that person visiting this judge with a memo to knock it off.

      • flyb

        I feel bad for this family. They will have to go through all this crap over this because of the judge. She certainly needs a stern talking to at the least.

  • baal

    I’ve known more than a few religously Hindu folks to name their kids after their gods. I’ve even met several Shivas and Krishnas.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

      any Harry’s in the bunch?

  • Gus Snarp

    How completely absurd. I know a judge who needs to lose her job. I have no doubt this decision will be overruled.

    • 3lemenope

      Unless there’s a pattern of excruciatingly stupid and illegal decisions, I’d say this warrants more a stern finger-wagging than a termination. If everyone were judged and punished thus for their worst on-the-job decision, unemployment would hover somewhere in the neighborhood of 99%. For all we know, she’s otherwise a superb judge who has a strange hang-up that happened to be tripped on in this case.

      • Gus Snarp

        It’s a pretty fucking big hang up. The point of a judge is that they’re supposed to have good judgment, and to know the law. This isn’t just a simple mistake, this is a colossal fuck up and a very strong statement about how this judge makes decisions: according to her religious beliefs instead of the law.

        Not everyone should lose their job because of their worst on the job decision, but there are often single decisions that are fire-able offenses for a single incident, and there are people at high levels, particularly in government, who are consistently held to this standard: they lose their job for one fuck up.

        In this case, I think this judge ought to lose her job, but I also have no doubt that she won’t. There’s very little accountability for judges, it’s not easy for them to lose their jobs, and that’s for good reason, to keep them above petty politics.

        Now I’m not sure about this particular level of judge, but in Florida judges often go on the ballot as “shall this judge be retained in office”. Given that almost no voters know anything about any judge, most are retained in office. I guarantee you that if this judge ended up on my ballot in Florida, I’d vote “no”, based entirely on this decision. I would like to see other people vote no as well, but I’m under no illusion that it would ever happen, certainly not for doing something most of the voters wouldn’t see as nearly as wrong as I do. But this is still terribly wrong and I still don’t think someone who decides a case in this manner ought to be on the bench.

      • Sven2547

        There are two primary failures in the judgement of this particular case:
        * The case did not involve the first name at all, until the judge chose to interject her opinion.
        * The basis of the opinion was ‘because Jesus’.

        Not only is it likely that this kind of stupidity has influenced other decisions, I will go so far as to say I’d be shocked if it hasn’t.

        • 3lemenope

          And if there’s evidence to that end, then have a party. So far, such evidence has firmly lain in the realm of “things that may well be true if I imagine them just so”.

          Is insisting on actual evidence before calling for someone to lose their job too old school, or what?

          • Sven2547

            I never said or implied that these two (perfectly valid) examples of gross judicial misconduct were the sole reason this judge should be fired. I said I’d be shocked if there weren’t more.

      • UWIR

        “If everyone were judged and punished thus for their worst on-the-job decision”
        That doesn’t make sense. If we punish one person’s worst transgression (and what evidence do we have that this is her worst transgression?) with termination, then we have to punish everyone’s worst transgression with firing?

        There are plenty of people qualified to be a judge. Why should this woman take precedence over any of them? Just because she managed to get there first? If she gets fired, obviously someone else will take her place, so the unemployment rate won’t be affected (although there might have more unemployed lawyers if we started getting rid of judges who make rulings that have to be appealed). If a cop pockets some jewelry while searching a house, should the cop get a “stern finger-wagging”? This judge is guilty of felony-level misconduct. A firing is the least that should happen to her.

        • 3lemenope

          This judge is guilty of felony-level misconduct.

          Felony level? Uh, no. Folks need to recalibrate their outrage circuits if this is where it’s leading.

          • UWIR

            We need to calibrate our outrage circuits up. We should be way more outraged at someone using her position as a judge to order people to recognize Jesus as The Sole Messiah as we should at quite a few crimes that qualify as “felonies” (did you know that in Louisiana, it’s a felony to perform oral sex in exchange for money?)

  • JWH

    Ummm … that is one very, very wrong judge.

  • Without Malice

    The judge is an idiot, and so are the parents for giving their child with such goof-ball name.

  • TheG

    Considering I’ve had pediatric patients with names like Oonike (Unique) and Jeanyus (Genius), I don’t think this is a precedence the judge would have a hard time getting most populations to accept.
    (Ever want to learn what NOT to name your kid, ask an ER nurse.)

    • Tainda

      lol so true. I work in a children’s hospital and the names are crazy sometimes. The new fad of Nevaeh disturbs me

      • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

        New? Pfft, people have been doing the Nevaeh thing for at least a decade if Maury is any indication. Now spelling Heather backwards to make Rethaeh is fairly new, but Nevaeh is old news in bad naming.

        • Tainda

          Yes, been around a long time but it’s REALLY gotten popular now though.

          • TheG

            I wondered what the end of this trend will be like.
            Will a Nobel Laureate ever be name Nevaeh? Probably not, but I’m sure I’ll see one taking off a Catholic school uniform while “Pour Some Sugar On Me” plays.

            • Nevaeh

              Oh, you’ve seen my show?

    • UWIR

      If you’re going to get creative, the least you can do is give them a reasonable middle name that they can go by if they want to.

  • C Peterson

    The judge was obviously operating outside his legal bounds.

    That said, it’s a bit abusive on the part of the parents to name their kid something so culturally loaded. How about Satan? How about Hitler? (I do recall a story along those lines not long ago.)

    What does it do to a kid growing up with a seriously odd name? How does a kid develop when he goes through school answering “present” to “Hitler Stalin God Smith” at every roll call? Legalities aside, parents could simply consider what they’re doing!

    • WoodyTanaka

      “The judge was obviously operating outside his legal bounds.”

      LOL. (As if you gave a shit a out the law.). Then I guess he’s as bad as you, hypocrite.

      • C Peterson

        Wow. You’ve never gone a single mile over the speed limit. You’ve never taken a paper clip home from the office. Must be nice to be perfect.

        • WoodyTanaka

          If you think that what you do – the bigotry and discrimination – is the same as de minimis things driving a mile over the limit or taking a paper clip, then you are a fool as well as a law-breaking bigot.

          • Kevin R. Cross

            It would help others in this area if you explained what you were talking about, WT.

            • C Peterson

              He’s pissed (well into irrationality, IMO) by my comment in another discussion that I have chosen in the past not to hire theists into scientific jobs because I feel they are less likely than atheists to think scientifically in the way the job requires.

              • WoodyTanaka

                no, you admitted that you break the law and refuse to knowingly hire theists and gave some horseshit about doing it because of a nonexisting connection between that and mental illness. So not only are you a bigot, fool, lawbreaker and irrational idiot, but you’re a fucking liar, too.

                And my reaction is not irrational because when trash like you discriminate, people’s lives are affected and it doesn’t make it right when “our” side does it.

                • Kevin R. Cross

                  Well, given that C Peterson is communicating clearly and concisely, while WT frankly is coming off like a loony, and that further, C Peterson has actually addressed the issue at hand rather than WT’s list of ad hominems regarding nothing in particular, I do not think it beyond the pale to ask WoodyTanaka to please butt out. Trolls are not wanted.

                • Mario Strada

                  I agree. I will use the occasional “Fuck you” myself from time to time, but these hate and invective filled posts are not acceptable. Disagree and even call someone a bigot, but when you add the other invectives and keep doing it over and over, you are not arguing, you are just being obnoxious.

                • C Peterson

                  I don’t think I said I broke any laws. What I said is that I didn’t hire people because I felt their religious beliefs would not allow them to effectively do the job. That’s not necessarily illegal. Certainly, religious organizations are allowed to use the same logic, and not hire people into certain positions (such as pastors) if they don’t adhere to certain beliefs. And there’s usually a good deal more latitude in making hiring decisions than firing ones (and I never fired anybody for their beliefs).

                  The bottom line is that my hiring practices might or might not be seen as legally acceptable by a court… it isn’t so clear cut.

                  But to treat my approach as bigotry is absurd in the extreme. I didn’t fail to hire anybody because of their theism, but because of their way of thinking about scientific problems. If I were a religious bigot I would try to stop theists from being hired for non-science positions. I didn’t. I wouldn’t have religious friends. I have many. I wouldn’t associate with religious people. I do. I’d advocate for laws discriminating against the religious. I don’t.

                  By all means, feel free to disagree with my opinion that theists are more likely to be poor scientists. But equating that arguable position to bigotry is very extreme.

                • Iris Ka-Yan Bakalar

                  So, having read all the comments from your side and WT’s (and a couple in between), I have to say, it does appear that you’re discriminating against a certain group, admitting to this prejudice, and saying “I don’t care”. I’m sorry, but I’m on WT’s side if that’s the case. I don’t care why one has any sort of prejudices – prejudice is always wrong. Sometimes we’re unaware we’re discriminating against someone, in which case I can see the argument for forgiving them. But in your case, you’re aware and you don’t care – that does make you appear as a bigot.

                  However, having read your last comment – that you wouldn’t fire someone for their beliefs, that you have religious friends – that indicates to me that you do think religious people can think clearly and logically and intelligently (I mean, we tend to make friends with people on a similar intelligence level), and it indicates that perhaps you have hired religious people in the past for jobs. This directly contradicts your claim that you don’t hire (or actively avoids hiring) religious folks, and contradicts the impression I have that you simply discriminate blindly.

                  So just to clarify it further – if there were 2 people interviewing for a job. The first is a theist and has all the requirements and qualifications and experience you could ask for, everything relevant and good for the job at hand. Got work experience, voluntary experience, paid experience, you name it, he’s got it. The second is an atheist, meets only some of the requirements, has some qualifications but not half as good as the theist, and his experience cannot compare to the theist’s as he’s only had work experience in the field, working for free and he’s never actually been employed in this area.

                  Who would you hire? Would you hire the atheist by virtue of him being an atheist? Or would you, in this case, put aside whatever you think about theists, and hire the theist?

                  I do understand we all have preferences – sometimes between equal candidates, it might simply boil down to whether you liked their smile on the day of the interview because nothing else sets them apart. So in a case where the theist and atheist were in equal competition, I understand that you would probably hire the atheist. But in the hypothetical case I presented above, who would you hire? Because this would show me whether it’s really just a preference that still allows you to judge objectively, or if it’s a blanket prejudice. The former is acceptable, we all do it. The latter is not.

                  Also, I don’t think jobs for religious organisations could be compared to other organisations where your beliefs do not matter to the job. You cannot pastor a church if you’re an atheist, it’s simple logic. On the other hand, plenty of Christians are also scientists – it does not seem to interfere with their ability to think or solve scientific problems. While there’s good reason to say, an atheist cannot help a bunch of Christians worship God and help them grow in God, there’s little logic behind saying a Christian or other religious person would be unable to accept and work through scientific principles. Science does not negate God, and neither does God negate science.

                  As far as I’m concerned, God created science, there is no contradiction. If the contradiction is solely in the area of evolution/big bang etc, I can safely say I can work within the boundaries of that if I had to, but I can also safely say I just don’t care, as I’m not a scientist (I just find it boring, I’m afraid. My sister, however is a nutritionist) and I really don’t care exactly how God created the world or how long it took. As for a belief in God, we all believe in things we cannot see, have convictions we cannot prove – this is not unique to religious people but also to atheists, just by virtue of being human.

                • baal

                  Did your spleen or bile gland erupt? I just read your posting history Woody and it’s really intense on the strong statements – particularly in defending people who should know better and in castigating those who do.

              • UWIR

                “…I have chosen in the past not to hire theists into scientific jobs because I feel they are less likely than atheists to think scientifically in the way the job requires.”
                There are several different reading of that statement:

                “I have chosen to adopt a general policy of not hiring any theists because I think no theists are likely to think scientifically”

                “I have in the past given preference to nontheists because I feel they are more likely to think scientifically”

                “There are particular people who I chose not to hire because I felt that they were less likely to think scientifically, and some of those people were theists”

                Etc.

                The first is definitely illegal, the latter is definitely legal, and the middle is more debatable.

                • WoodyTanaka

                  UWIR, decide for yourself. In the comments to the article, “Should a Science Museum Hire You if Your College Taught Young Earth Creationism?” C Peterson:

                  1) Admitted to refusing to hire theists, both in the past and presently:

                  “I would never knowingly hire a theist. Indeed, I have avoided doing so in the past.”

                  2) Stated he did not care that what he is doing is against the law because he could always come up with a reason that appears to be legit, in order to cover up his discrimination:

                  “I care not about the legality of it, because when hiring decisions are made it is very easy to formally base the decision on something that isn’t actionable. With a small enough company, it’s pretty much impossible do demonstrate any sort of pattern.”

                  3) and stated that the reason he committed this discrimination was due not to the ability of the particular job candidate’s ability to think scientifically, but because he posited that theists are more likely to have a mental illness.

                  “I consider theism to objectively indicate a high probability of mental illness.”

                  If the atheist community (not to mention those who are concerned with the stigma that attach to people who suffer from mental illness) are not willing to fully condemn this behavior when it is done by an atheist, then the community has no leg to stand on to complain when a theist who runs a company refuses to hire an atheist because of his atheism.

                • allein

                  So wtf does that have to do with this post? Why do you have to derail to a completely different topic just because you have issues with a person posting?

                • 3lemenope

                  I tend to agree. Your venting your spleen all over the FSM-damn place really doesn’t help the whole standing-next-to-you-agreeing “thing”.

                • C Peterson

                  I don’t think my hiring practices were illegal. But neither do I care. I do not believe that it is an ethical requirement to obey every law, under every circumstance.

          • C Peterson

            Well, driving a mile over the speed limit absolutely is breaking the law.

            Not hiring somebody because you don’t think they meet the job requirements is not.

            Demonstrating that a law was broken in the first case is trivial. In the second case, it is very difficult because the boundaries are much less well defined.

            And of course, calling the second case “bigotry” just reveals gross ignorance and emotional overreaction.

            If you believe that breaking any law is immoral, than clearly the first case is more serious than the second, as well.

      • flyb

        Where did this come from?

        • Fred

          The insipid and asinine often feel persecuted by competent people. Sometime they lash out at them randomly.

          • WoodyTanaka

            Fuck off Fred.

            • Fred

              See.

              • 3lemenope

                Toying with an angry person is the province of the petty and the cruel.

                • Fred

                  I’m ok with that.

      • Mario Strada

        Wow! Tell me there is a history between you two. Else this is way out of bounds.

        • Terry Firma

          No, this is standard operating procedure for Mr. Tanaka. No “history” needed.

      • Sven2547

        What is wrong with you?

    • flyb

      I don’t think we should tell people what to name their kids because of how others might react. Is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed for names? Yeah, but it’s probably not at Messiah. There would be a shitstorm here if someone claimed drawings of Muhammad should be banned because some ignorant people might want to kill the artist.

      • C Peterson

        To be clear, I’m not suggesting telling people what to name their kids. I’m only suggesting that parents think about how the name they choose might affect their kid’s life.

        • flyb

          Fair enough. Even so, my very normal name was still an easy target for other kids (maybe because it is so normal?). But once they figured out my middle name… .forget it! Yikes. It’s not a “bad” name or anything, just one that was very easily manipulated by creative young minds. ;)

          • C Peterson

            Kids find a way to distort just about everybody’s name. Still, I’ll bet you’re happier with what you have than you would be with something like “Ima Hoar” (Imogene, actually, but went by Ima), a woman who lived on my street when I was a kid. Or the daughter of my parents’ next door neighbor, “Sandy Claus”.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I never met him, but there was a kid a few years ahead of me and a couple of schools over whose mom gave him a name pronounced “Shih-THEE-ud”, which actually sounds fine, but…

      …it was spelled “Shithead”. I have no clue how that got through.

      As for how he grew up, I understand he became a serious badass in record time and a terror on the football field. Good for him.

      • Spuddie

        So its an updated “A Boy Named Sue”?

      • flyb

        Are you serious?

        Edit: Or am I missing a pop culture reference of some kind?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          No pop culture references. Dead serious. It’s kind of horrifying how stupid and/or hateful his mom must have been. He went by another name, I don’t remember what, but it would have only taken one kid finding out for everyone to find out.

      • EvolutionKills

        This actually happens. My mother is a pediatric nurse, and she see’s a lot of weird names for kids. She did run into a ‘Shithead’ once, and it was pronounced ‘Sh-Theed’ by the kid’s mother. Poor, poor kid. That will be a hell of a burden in school.

  • The Other Weirdo

    As a Jew, I am offended by this judge’s opinion that Jesus was any sort of messiah.

  • Pawel Samson

    This reminds me of the trend of parents naming their daughter Khaleesi, after Dany from Game of Thrones. This really bugs me because it’s a TITLE not a NAME. Same thing with Messiah. It’s like naming your kid Doctor, Chef or Viceroy.

    • Yoav

      It worked fine for Major Major.

    • allein

      There was a Cracked.com article I saw recently, ‘X names that won’t make sense in 10 years’ or something like that. Khaleesi was one of them.

  • JET

    If this child turns out to be the Second Coming, God’s gonna be pissed…

  • Gringa123

    Aren’t there also people named “Junior?” At least “Messiah” was spelled correctly.

  • pagansister

    What an idiot judge! My first thought, before I read the entire post, was —how many kids are named Jesus!! or Mohammed —Really? Messiah is any different than that? Think I’d try again with another judge or something.

  • randomfactor

    “Judge” is a title and should not be applied to this one.

  • Bill George

    Anyone else feel sorry for people who will have to go before this judge in the future? If I had her as my judge for an upcoming case I would be filing for a new judge ASAP on grounds of stupid.

  • Andrew S. Balfour

    According to this: http://www.chron.com/news/us/article/Tenn-judge-changes-infant-s-name-from-Messiah-4724351.php Ballew isn’t a judge, she’s a child support magistrate.

  • Dave

    That is a big assumption by the judge. He could be the messiah. Jesus was denied as well.

    • UWIR

      Yeah, she’s making a religious pronouncement. She’s saying if someone claims to be the Messiah, she can order them to refrain from doing so, because she has the authority to decide who is the Messiah.

  • Christopher Borum

    Maybe if they’d spelled it “Haissem” instead?

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    I’m siding with the judge — she just saved the kid a lifetime of taking shit for having such a stupid-ass name.

  • Tainda

    And every time I scroll down and see this title it reminds me of the Bill Cosby joke that he thought his name was Jesus Christ and his brother was Damnit for a long time because that’s what his dad would say lol

    “Damnit, would you get in here!”

    “But Dad, I’m Jesus Christ”

    rofl

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      God, I watched my tape of him doing his routine on HBO at least fifty times growing up.

      *sings* Dad is great! Gives us the chocolate cake!

      • allein

        My parents have it on vinyl. :)

        • Tainda

          lol mine do too

  • Grotoff

    Well, naming your kid Messiah is pretty dumb. But plenty of people name their kid “Duke” or “Earl”.

  • Mario Strada

    What a position to be in. Support the nutty parents that want to burden their son with the name “Messiah” or side with the nutty judge “child support magistrate” that thinks it’s a title reserved for Jesus alone.

    I think I’ll have a Snickers bar instead.

    • wombat

      It will be significantly less nutty.

  • allein

    Heh, just as I expected:

    Allein is not in the top 1000 names for any year of birth in the last 13 years.
    Please enter another name.

    Can never get a personalized keychain in the gift shop, either. :-/

    On topic: I hope they can appeal. Also, what’s to stop them from just calling him Messiah anyway? Plenty of people go almost exclusively by something other than their legal name. My mother (and her mother as well) went by their middle name (they have the same name); which was entirely their parents’ doing from when they were born. I also have a friend who calls her daughter by her middle name, and I’ve met people who go by something that isn’t even related to their “real” name.

    Edit: My mother goes by, her mother went by. My mom is still alive and well. ;)

  • Emanuel Hoogeveen

    My name is Emanuel, which is a scandinavian version of the Hebrew for messiah. Which messiah? Don’t ask me, I’m an atheist and so are my parents. They just liked the name. I will say that naming your child ‘messiah’ in an English-speaking country is either sadistic or retarded – but the same can be said for many awkward names (like that poor kid who got named Google).

  • tom

    Lucky Mr. T didn’t have her around when he changed his name.

  • lucifurious

    Hole. Lee. Fuck.

  • WingedBeast

    If this is in America, that ruling is going to be overruled on appeal on 1st Amendment grounds.
    And, considering that the judge is, in fact, an employee of the legal system that is bound to that amendment, she’s subject to a lawsuit for legal fees, time spent appealing, etc.

    • UWIR

      Google “judicial immunity”.

      • WingedBeast

        I dare to say we need an alteration in that to make an exception for violations of basic constitutional rights.

  • Noelle

    I wasn’t born at Christmas.

    How many Summers or Autumns were born in Winter or Spring? How many Aprils or Junes have September or October on their birth certificates? Messiah follows a popular 3-syllable pattern with the soft ending that’s so popular with parents (Julia, Elijah, Alexa, Sophia, etc). It also has a strong distinct feel to it (Pheonix, Zion, Trinity). I’m not surprised it’s been adopted as a thing to name a kid. Bonus that no one got all creative on the spelling.

  • Robster

    There’s that famous boxer Mohammad Ali, obviously named after that alleged muzzy ‘prophet’, he was allowed to use a deity’s name so this judge’s decision is a wee bit sus and could be called discriminatory.

    • wombat

      Um, Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Clay. He change his name when he converted to Islam.


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