Most Americans are fine with babies named Messiah, Christ or any other religious name they'd like, a study from LifeWay Research released today indicates.
What they don't like are judges telling people what to name their kids.
LifeWay polled on the topic after a Cocke County, Tenn., magistrate used an August hearing in a dispute over a baby's last name as a chance to change his first name.
Child Support Magistrate LuAnn Ballew ordered that baby Messiah Deshawn Martin be renamed Martin DeShawn McCullough -- which used his mother's surname as his first name and his father's surname as his last name.
"'Messiah' means Savior, Deliverer, the One who will restore God's Kingdom. 'Messiah' is a title held only by Jesus Christ," she wrote in her ruling. The ruling apparently missed the fact that "Messiah" was the 387th most popular boys' name in the U.S. in 2012, according to the Social Security Administration.
To the question of whether parents should be able to name their child "Messiah" or "Christ," 53 percent of Americans strongly agree and 21 percent somewhat agree, LifeWay research showed.
To the statement: "Judges should be allowed to change the name parents give their children if there are religious implications to those names that some people might find offensive," 61 percent strongly disagreed and 11 percent somewhat disagreed.
The results are based on a telephone survey of 1,001 adults done Sept. 6-10. LifeWay Research is affiliated with the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention.
Another judge reversed Ballew's ruling
in the Messiah case, and she faces disciplinary action from the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct over alleged religious bias. She has until Monday to respond to the charges.