Religion And Tattoos...Where Is the Line Drawn?

Religion And Tattoos...Where Is the Line Drawn?
It’s no secret that there seems to be a bit of a controversy surrounding tattoos and religion. While several religions seem to be okay with tattooing, others have a more stanch stand against tattooing. But, if you look at the history of tattooing moving into today’s society, you will find that tattoos have had their time and place intertwined with religion.

While some people may choose to get religious tattoos that represent their beliefs, others may choose not to get tattooed at all. It all comes down to one basic thing: the freedom to choose.

Not all religious people feel that tattoos and body modification are inherently bad. Many have chosen to forever mark their body with their faith and love of their god (or gods). There are, of course, many extremists that feel that religious people do not get tattoos that, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth.

Tribes dating back in history have been known to tattoo their bodies for solemn rituals, while others in today’s modern society will use it as a joyous method of expressing their beliefs to the world. Let’s break this down to the world’s most common religions and their views of tattoos.

In Christianity, the bible is noted to say, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord,” this is taken in two very different ways by Christians. Some may interpret this to mean that tattoos are forbidden, while others feel that the bible not only condones tattoos but also ordered those in the bible. 

Artist: Kory Angarita[/caption]

Judaism includes the same bible verses as the Christian bible, and Orthodox Jewish traditions forbid any permanent changes to the body (except for circumcision). Due to this, most Jewish people will not get tattoos. That, however, isn’t to say that there are no Jews that get tattoos. There are several that have no problem with getting inked and often pay tribute to their beliefs.

Buddhism is one of the religions that doesn’t forbid tattoos; in fact, many Thai monks have tattoos that serve as amulets of safety and strength in the face of adversity and crisis.

Artist: Jared Preslar[/caption]

In Hinduism, it isn’t uncommon for some groups to include tattooing as an overall part of their culture and religion. With stunning and intricate designs, they boast some of the most intricate and striking tattoos. 

Islam This is perhaps one of the staunchest religions against tattoos. Islam absolutely forbids tattoos. If a person converts to Islam with a tattoo, it is forgiven as a part of the person’s past, but any new ink would be considered disrespectful.

Neopagan is another religion that embraces tattoos in all of its rights is Neopaganism. It is often used as an outward expression of their beliefs.

Artist: Nickolai Hanna[/caption]

Some of the most common religious tattoos are:

  • Crosses
  • Virgin Mary
  • Verses from the bible
  • Christian fish
  • Christ
  • The Star of David
  • Hebrew lettering
  • Buddha
  • Bodhisattvas
  • Lotus flowers
  • Dharma wheels
  • Hindu deities
  • Traditional Indian art
  • Pentacles
  • Tree of life
  • Thor's Hammer
Of course, these aren’t all specific to the religious. There are plenty of non-religious people who may gravitate toward a specific design for a memorial or any other reason that they may deem fit to get the design.

However, it is important to always consider what you’re tattooing before moving forward with the act itself; tattoos are a permanent mark on your body and should always be treated with the utmost respect.

Artist: Paul Talbot[/caption]