WASHINGTON : A judge in the southern US state of Tennessee has ordered parents who named their son Messiah to change it. "The word Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ," Judge Lu Ann Ballew said in the ruling last week, according to the newspaper The Tennessean. The parents of the seven month old boy had gone to court because they could not decide what the child's last name would be -- the father's or the mother's.

The judge ordered that the child go by the last names of both, and along the way surprised everyone by ordering the first name be changed as well -- to Martin.

The mother, Jaleesa Martin, is appealing. She said she and the father had not named the baby Messiah for religious reasons but rather because they liked the way it sounded.

The judge said it was the first time she ordered a name change.

Ballew said this was better for the boy because the name Messiah might offend people in a county with many Christians.

"It could put him at odds with a lot of people," the judge said, according to the newspaper.

Martin said she was shocked by the judge's order.

"I never intended on naming my son Messiah because it means God and I didn't think a judge could make me change my baby's name because of her religious beliefs," she was quoted as saying.