A name fit for a king: would you call your baby 'Messiah'?

(Photo: Roli Seeger)

Baby Ballot recently predicted unconventional spellings, Latino names, and names deriving from ancient mythology would become popular choices with new parents in 2014. Now another unexpected trend might emerge too.

Biblical names have always been popular – think Matthew, Mark Luke and John – and now even more unconventional Biblical characters such as Caleb, Levi and Shiloh are having their moment. But calling your baby 'Messiah'? Much like the shepherds that night in Bethlehem, I'm not sure many of us saw it coming.

But according to the Social Security Administration, Messiah was the 387th most popular boys name in the US in 2012, featuring just after 'Scott' and right before 'Jay', meaning it has made a leap up from 904th place in 2005.

A recent survey commissioned by Nashville-based LifeWay research has confirmed the growing popularity of Messiah as a baby name.

Lifeway found that most Americans believe parents should be able to give their child religious names, including Messiah, if they so wish.

When asked if parents should be able to name their child "Messiah" or "Christ", 53 per cent of Americans strongly agreed and another 21 per cent somewhat agreed.

Three-quarters believe a judge does not have the right to change a child's name for religious reasons, as happened in the summer of 2013 when East Tennessee judge LuAnn Ballew ordered new mother Jaleesa Martin to change her son's name from Messiah to Martin, saying it was too offensive.

"Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ," she said.

Her ruling was later overturned as judges in the US do not currently have the right to legally enforce name changes.

"This is a case where a parent's rights, child advocacy, and a judge's religious convictions meet," said Scott McConnell, vice-president of LifeWay Research.

"Despite the fact that the majority of Americans consider themselves Christians and that the judge voiced an orthodox Christian position of there being only one person who earned the title Messiah, three out of four Americans put a parent's right to name their child above considerations about religious offense or the beliefs of their own religion."

McConnell added: "Personally, I am partial to the name Scott."

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