Can I name my child Messiah?

Answered by Robert Dupre

As an expert in family law, I can provide some insights into the question of whether parents can name their child “Messiah.” While laws regarding baby names differ from state to state, it is important to consider the general principles that guide these laws.

In the United States, parents generally have the freedom to choose their child’s name. However, there are instances where a court may intervene if the chosen name could potentially harm the child or cause confusion. These situations typically involve names that could be considered obscene, offensive, or detrimental to the child’s well-being.

In the case of the name “Messiah,” it is important to note that it does not inherently pose a risk to the child’s safety or well-being. The name itself does not contain any offensive or harmful connotations. It is a religious term that carries different meanings for different people, but it is not inherently harmful.

While some may argue that naming a child “Messiah” could potentially cause social or psychological challenges, it is important to recognize that parents have the right to express their religious or cultural beliefs through their child’s name. It is not the role of the court or the state to dictate what names parents can choose, as long as the name does not present a clear and immediate harm to the child.

In a landmark case in 2013, a Tennessee judge initially ordered that a couple change their child’s name from “Messiah” to “Martin” during a child support hearing. However, this decision was later overturned by a higher court, emphasizing the importance of protecting parents’ freedom to choose their child’s name, even if it carries religious or cultural significance.

It is worth noting that while parents have the right to choose their child’s name, it is essential to consider potential consequences and societal perceptions. Names can have an impact on a person’s life, including how they are perceived by others. However, these considerations should not be used as a basis for restricting parents’ naming choices, as long as there is no immediate harm to the child.

The name “Messiah” does not inherently put a child in harm’s way, and parents generally have the right to choose their child’s name. While societal perceptions and potential challenges may arise, it is not the role of the court or the state to restrict parents’ naming choices based on these factors.