Should the Name Messiah Be Banned Because That Title Belongs to Jesus Christ? Or Because It Infringes On the Religious Freedom of Others?

If you’re following the story of the Tennessee Judge who wouldn’t allow a baby to keep the name, Messiah, you may want to read the article published in the New York Times on July 17 by Mark Oppenheim which provides some other unusual religious names which were banned for quite different reasons by a New York Judge. Oppenheimer writes:

Last week, when a Tennessee judge forcibly changed an infant’s name from Messiah to Martin, it was hard to decide which was more noteworthy, the parents’ grandiosity in naming their child for the one they consider their Savior or the judge’s religious zealotry in prohibiting the name.

I found Oppenheim’s article to be of interest because it mentions two other religious first names and one religious family name that a New York Judge, Philip. S. Straniere, banned last year for a different legal reason.

Apparently a New York family wanted to name a son JesusIsLord, a daughter Rejoice and change their family name to ChristIsKing. According to Oppenheimer:

The judge argued that allowing certain names could infringe on the religious liberties of others, and he offered the example of a court employee forced to call out a name with a religious message.

“A calendar call in the courthouse would require the clerk to shout out, ‘JesusIsLord ChristIsKing’ or ‘Rejoice ChristIsKing,’ ” wrote Judge Philip S. Straniere, of Richmond County. He was alluding to the daughter’s first name, Rejoice, and a name they had sought for their son, although no court would allow them to change it to “JesusIsLord.”

Years from now we’ll know whether the legal arguments of Judge Ballew (of Tennesee) or Judge Staniere (of New York) are more effective in banning questionable religious names (in the sense that they are upheld on appeal).

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