Carol Anne Costa: Let Baby Messiah Keep His Name
Thursday, August 15, 2013
A Teachable Moment
This ruling and the Magistrate’s rationalization is so outrageous and overreaching it provides a teachable moment to reveal very clearly, what the Establishment Clause and judicial activism look like. I almost feel a disclaimer should be given before you watch Ballew’s account of her own decision; something like, “Kids please don’t ever do this, as it is dangerous to your constitution.” At first blush, the case of “Messiah” McCullough seems to be a case merely revolving around the first amendment Establishment Clause, but as I process this reporting, it is so much more. It speaks to judicial activism, ignorance of the law and pure government overreach.
What does the Establishment clause say? Simply, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” America is a country filled with multitudes of religious people, beliefs, practices and institutions. Our history is littered with first amendment challenges. Rhode Island is famous for its establishment challenges and the lines get drawn quickly and with much furor. Let’s face it, we are old pros given the well-documented cases going back to Lynch vs. Donnelly–or as we know it, the Pawtucket Nativity Case–and right up through our most recent tug of war, Alquist vs. Cranston, the school prayer case.
As the challenges come and the law evolves there have been boisterous and rough public debates about separation of church and state. But, this Tennessee case is a bridge too far. There is no room or need for debate. While I am certain the parents will prevail on appeal, the fact that a Magistrate, a representative of the government, could not only make this decision but move to justify by invoking religion it is nothing short of shocking. If her own words represent a pervasive default to her own religious beliefs, she needs to turn in her robe ASAP!
As for Messiah
The adorable child at the center of this debacle bears a name which has grown significantly in the popularity ratings as calculated by the Name Voyager on Babynamewizard.com. Messiah stands at a ranking of 387th while Jesus is ranked in at 92nd. Moses has fallen to 592nd, and Luke comes in at a respectable 39th spot. As to not be sexist, Mary has dropped from the number 1 position in popularity in to the 112th spot. Names are important and families take great pains to come up with just the right one, and for Jaleesa and Jawaan, Messiah is it. To you Magistrate Ballew, “Keep your government hands off the baby’s name!” Let Messiah be Messiah and for the love of God, before you retake the bench…go read the Constitution!
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