Religion, State Judges, Weirdness

Heyzeus Christo

You can feel it when the conversation is about to go there. Someone mentions a funny name. Maybe it’s a celebrity name, like Apple or Pilot Inspektor. And before you know it, you’re smack dab in the middle of one person’s tale of his brother or his cousin. Maybe it’s his cousin’s brother who worked in a hospital or who was a school teacher. Well, it’s this distant relative who encountered the Lemonjello. His brother Orangejello was the slow one, this lying jerk will say. And then the table will erupt into uncomfortable digressions on race and naming conventions. People care about baby names. A lot.

And so it is that we’re confronted with news out of Staten Island, where a judge ruled against a pastor’s attempt to change his family’s name.

Straight from the slums of Shaolin, the Wu-tang Clan strikes again. The Rza, the Gza, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon the Chef, U-God, Ghostface Killah and …

Mr. and Mrs. ChristIsKing.

Yep, the New York Daily News (bang of the gavel to New York Magazine) reported on Monday about the couple, currently named Michael and Angela Nwadiuko, who were denied the ability to change their last name to ChristIsKing. The picture that accompanied the story on the Daily News’s website shows Mr. Nwadiuko attempting to spread the word on a Staten Island ferry. The word of Christ. Christ, you know. Our savior. The guy who died for your sins, you guys? Whoa, look at me. Letting this post turn into a full-on boner for Jesus. I’m sorry. I apologize to all of you. But most importantly, I apologize to Judge Philip Straniere.

Because Judge Straniere is carefully attuned to the heightened sensitivities of pagans or whomever aren’t Christians these days (to be honest, I stopped paying attention to doctrinal disputes after the movie Dragnet). In denying the Nwadiuko’s petition, he made abundantly clear that his first duty as a Staten Island Civil Court Judge is to respect the separation of church and state. To wit:

Michael and Angela Nwadiuko were denied adopting the unorthodox name after Civil Court Judge Philip Straniere cited the separation of church and state — plus the fact that some people would be offended to hear the name.

What if a court clerk or a classroom teacher would be forced to call out “JesusIsLord ChristIsKing” or “Rejoice ChristIsKing?” Straniere asked in his ruling issued this month, referring to the couple’s children.

“Not only is the speaker being forced to say something which might be repugnant to the speaker, but the general public would be subjected to this unwanted intrusion of the petitioners’ religious beliefs,” he concluded.

“Because God.”
“No, because separation of church and state.”
-The worst f**king argument of all time.

Dumb arguments emanate like penumbras from the First Amendment. Telling you to STFU is not an infringement of free speech, and not every wackadoo religious zealot represents a serious threat to the separation of church and state. And you’d think a judge of any caliber would recognize this. Alas and alack.

But then Judge Straniere signaled that he’s clearly trolling when he turned to his next line of attack:

Straniere had also asked the couple what if their son played basketball in college and a newspaper headline read “‘JesusIsLord ChristIsKing’ misses shot to cost team championship?” or what should be done “should a devil worshiper seek to have his name changed to ‘SatanIsLord’ and ‘TheDevilIsKing?’”

Their response was that the former won’t be a problem and the latter would be unfathomable.

“Their reaction showed an inability to recognize that many people would not only not be comfortable reciting the petitioners’ proposed name but that in doing so would be violating that person’s religious or lack of religious beliefs,” Straniere wrote.

And I’m not comfortable reciting the judge’s basketball hypothetical. Listen, the judge clearly hangs out with the most pearl-clutchingest, vapors-suffering group around. I’ve always wondered how petty a G-d would have to be to care about my declarations of faith in Him. But a G-d who could be tricked by an unfortunately named pastor from Staten Island? People believe in some really feeble deities these days.

But what of the more important issue? Judge Straniere holds sway over one of the most pressing crises of our time: stupid names and the people who obsess over them. Stupid names are neither ascendant nor the exclusive domain of one race or socioeconomic stratum. They are all over and as abundant as dumb tattoos. And much like dumb tattoos, they are pretty much the norm. Your name is stupid no matter what dead relative had it, and your tattoo is dumb no matter what it means. You’re probably stupid, and your parents were stupid for naming you that. Whatever that is. Now let’s all promise to shut up about names and move onto more important things.

In the comments, discuss television.

Bid to take the Lord’s name was all in vain for Staten Island couple [New York Daily News]
Staten Island Judge Takes Separation of Church and State Too Far [New York Magazine]

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