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Tennessee Court Fires Judge Who Wouldn’t Let Parents Name Their Baby ‘Messiah’

By Nicole Flatow  

"Tennessee Court Fires Judge Who Wouldn’t Let Parents Name Their Baby ‘Messiah’"

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Seven-month-old Messiah, who was temporarily renamed Martin by Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew.

Seven-month-old Messiah, who was temporarily renamed Martin by Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew.

CREDIT: AP/WBIR-TV, Heidi Wigdahl

In August, a Tennessee couple appeared before a child support magistrate judge to resolve a dispute over the baby’s surname. But Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew took it upon herself to order that the seven-month-old baby’s first name be changed from “Messiah” to “Martin,” because that name should be reserved for Jesus. New court documents reveal that Ballew was fired Friday, after being cited by the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct for inappropriate religious bias.

“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 at the time of the order, reasoning that the child would face difficulties in a heavily Christian town.

On appeal, a court held the name change unconstitutional, as a clear violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Ballew will still face a disciplinary hearing even after her removal.

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