While most people consider potential baby names based on whether they like the sound of them or not, some people might wonder if their future baby name, such as God, is even legal.
Although the name “God” is technically legal in most states as of the time this article was written in the U.S., only a parent can decide whether it’s a good name to choose for a child.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether it’s legal to name your child “God” in the United States and other related topics.
Is It Illegal To Name Your Child God in the United States?
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In the United States of America, there are certain freedoms and rights that are protected by documents such as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
In the first amendment to the United States Constitution, after all, freedom of speech is protected.
Some argue that naming a child is a practice protected by the Due Process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment and free speech jurisprudence in the First Amendment.
As with many things in the United States, baby naming laws are left to individual states to decide and enforce.
In certain states, there are no laws around naming your child. For example, Kentucky’s law books stay silent on the subject.
New Jersey also allows parents to choose any chosen name and surname for their child. New Jersey maintains this as a guaranteed parental right.
In other states, such as California, most names are permitted as long as they avoid using characters such as accents because the electronic software used to document baby names cannot process them.
Many states allow parents to choose any first name for their child as long as the name is free of profanity, numbers, or special characters such as pictures or letters in a foreign alphabet.
Additionally, in most states, if not all states, parents must provide their child’s name legibly. Illegible names are subject to rejection by those authorizing and supplying birth certificates and other documents.
Is the last name “God” illegal in the United States?
If it’s legal to give your child God as a first name in just about all of the states in the U.S., you might wonder if you could get away with giving your child the name God as a last name.
The answer to this question is that it depends on the state and how you spell it.
Some states and regions are relatively lax on their laws regarding baby first names but have tighter restrictions on surnames.
As an academic article entitled “Naming Baby: The Constitutional Dimensions of Parental Naming Rights” By Carlton F.W. Larson on gwlr.org shares, “The District of Columbia mandates that the ‘surname of the child shall be the surname of a parent whose name appears on the child’s birth certificate, or both surnames recorded in any order or in hyphenated or unhyphenated form, or any surname to which either parent has a familial connection.’
To invoke the familial-connection provision, parents must provide an ‘affidavit stating that the chosen surname was or is the surname of a past or current relative or has some other clearly stated familial connection.’ Submission of a false affidavit can be punished by a fine of up to $200 and imprisonment for up to 90 days.”
The article goes on to explain that some states also have specific laws in place for unmarried mothers. These laws usually require that mothers either give the child their maiden name, current surname, or some combination of both parents’ surnames.
In most cases, unless you are willing and able to change a child’s last name through the courts’ name-changing process, you’ll have to give your child either your last name or the father’s last name.
Choosing a random last name can have dire consequences, including fines and jail time. If you want to give your child the last name of God with a special character in the middle, such as a zero instead of an o, you’ll run into even more trouble.
In some cases, you might be able to change your child’s last name to G-d. After all, there are some religious and spiritual circles that consider it more respectful to address God by G-d as a sign of reverence.
Still, the name-changing process can be lengthy and costly, so it might not be worth it.
Is it a bad idea to name your child God in the United States?
Although there don’t seem to be any American laws that forbid parents from naming their child God, there are a few things to consider outside of the laws.
You won’t be thrown in prison or fined for naming your child God, but it still might not be the best idea for other reasons.
If you name your child God, this might offend some religious or spiritual individuals.
While America does not have a national religion, there are a decent number of people in the U.S. who identify as religious or spiritual. In regions where religion is more popular, a child named God could be bullied or stigmatized.
Also, while the name God might sound cool now, future employers might pass up someone with a unique or bold name like God.
They might make assumptions about a candidate named God because of the loaded nature of the word.
While it probably isn’t illegal to name your child God in the United States, it might be a questionable decision.
No one can tell you what to name your child–at least, not outside of certain norms like what characters you can use and the length of the name.
Still, if you’re naming your child God, you might want to think about how it will affect the child as they grow up and whether you could give them another name while using God as a nickname.
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