Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
Judge Lu Ann Ballew

A Tennessee judge who ordered that a black couple change their son's name from Messiah because that name was reserved for Jesus Christ has been fired, New York's Daily News reports.

Last August, Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew of Cocke County in eastern Tennessee ordered that the boy's first name be changed to Martin, even though the parents objected and were only in front of the court seeking to settle other issues.


According to court documents seen by the Daily News, Ballew was terminated effective last Friday. Although there was no specific reason given for her firing, the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct had cited her for an inappropriate religious bias.

The child's mother, Jaleesa Martin, and father, Jawaan McCullough, had gone to court because each of them wanted their son to carry their own last name.

Instead, Ballew threw out the child's first name, even though neither parent wanted it changed, and ordered the boy renamed Martin DeShawn McCullough, the Daily News reports.

"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," the magistrate told Tennessee television station WBIR.


The parents appealed, and another judge found that Ballew's ruling was unconstitutional.

Ballew could not be reached for comment by the Daily News, which reports that a hearing is scheduled for March 3.


Read more at the Daily News.

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