Religious Symbols Cause Controversy in Tattoo Art

Religious symbols have always been a popular tattoo genre. In fact, there are Christian tattoo artists that specialize in these designs. But religious tattoos are not strictly limited to Christianity. When learning how to become a tattoo artist, you will see a wide variety of tattoo designs representing different faiths including Hindu, Buddist, Celtic, and Tribal tattoos. Religious words such as “Faith” are popular tattoos, as are quotes from Scripture. Crucifix tattoos, images of Jesus and Buddha are also popular. A tattoo parlor recently opened inside a Michigan church.

During the summer of 2010, tattoos became a concern for Americans travelling in Thailand. Tattoos are a part of Thai culture. Called Yantra tattoos, these religious symbols are revered by the Thai people. But the Thialand Culture Ministry banned tourists from getting religious tattoos. The ministry was concerned that travelers who got religious tattoos would then be seen drinking, fighting and participating in other behavior that is considered bad by Thai standards. This, according to the ministry, would damage the Thai faith. Tattoo parlors in Tawanna, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket were inspected by the Thai government and asked not to apply religious symbols to foreigners.

Both Jewish law and Islamic law forbid tattoos, seeing them as denegrading the body. Colombian soccer player Pablo Pino was arrested in Saudi Arabia for his religious tattoos which included the face of Jesus. There was an uproar in Saudi Arabia in 2010 when a Romanian player kissed the tattoo of a cross on his arm after scoring a goal.

Some Americans see tattoos as blasphemous, but a growing number advocate tattoos as a form of evangelism. Celebrities have brought religious tattoos into popular culture. Angelina Jolie first sported Buddist Sak Yant tattoos. Pop star Justin Bieber has an image of Jesus tattooed on his leg, a dove and Jesus’ name in Hebrew. Justin Timberlake has a cross tattoo on his arm, and Jesus is tattooed on Katy Perry’s wrist.

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