Monday, August 12, 2013

Judge Changes Baby's Name Against Parents' Wishes

Parents are naming their babies Messiah more and more often these days. According to the Social Security Administration, in 2005, the name Messiah was 904th in popularity among American babies. In 2012, it was ranked 387th. Keep in mind, however, that the ranking of a name does not indicate its prevalence. In other words, the popularity of a name (rank) does not indicate how many babies per million will have that name (prevalence).

Despite the increase in popularity of the name Messiah, it hasn't cracked the top 100 in Tennessee for 2012. Perhaps that provides some rationale (legally grounded or otherwise) for a Tennessee judge changing the name of an infant whose parents were disputing the child's last name. The judge's explanation includes two rationales:
  1. The child's new first name, Martin, is the last name of the mother. By changing his first name from Messiah to Martin and giving him his father's last name, both parents' last names are represented.
  2. "[T]he boy lives in a county with a large Christian population. “It could put him at odds with a lot of people and at this point he has had no choice in what his name is.""