Seven Types of Christian Tattoos

From crosses to proverbs to prayers, witness the rise of Christian ink.

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San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, ink fashion icon.

For many Christians, there used to be only one tattoo choice: No tattoo. Citing Leviticus 19:28, believers in the recent past embraced a no-ink injunction. But that’s changing, and it’s changing fast.

Just 10 years ago, sociologists at Texas Tech found that “strength of religious faith” correlated weakly with “having a tattoo, being interested in tattoos, or being likely to get a (or another) tattoo.” But in 2014, that no longer seems to be the case.

Blame (or credit) hipster pastors like Carl Lentz, superstar Christian athletes like Kevin Durant and Colin Kaepernick, and pop stars like Justin Bieber — or just look to Millennials, who may be the most tatted generation ever. Pew reports that nearly 4 in 10 Millennials sport a tattoo, many of them multiple tattoos. Sure, Pew also reports declining religious adherence among young adults today. But if they are going to church less, many of them are yet wearing religion on their (full) sleeves — and everywhere else on their bodies.

The internet is filled with the evidence of religious ink’s rise. We’ve been passing images around the office, and here are seven of our favorite categories. (We’re sticking to Christians for this list, but to be sure, religious tattoos are a multi-faith phenomenon.)


 1. God is Greek (or Hebrew) to Me

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The Greek letters for “agape,” which means God’s love. Via Pinterest.
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The Chi-Ro, an early monogram for “Christ.” Via Pinterest.
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VIa tattoostime.

2. Catholic Devotion

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Definitely a Catholic tattoo. It says so right there. Via Pinterest.
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Back of the arm praying. Via Pinterest.
Rosary on a foot. Via Pinterest.

 3. Crosses

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Whole-back crucifixion. Via cuded.com
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Upper-back cross. Hugely popular tattoo. Via Pinterest.
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Old Testament quote, New Testament cross. Via Pinterest.

 4. Cute & Pious

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A cross, infinity loop, and faith with a heart-dotted i. VIa Pinterest.
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A basic Christian equation on a forearm. Via Pinterest.
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Steps of faith with a Christian saying + fish. Via Pinterest.

5. Permanent Prayers

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Fistful of prayer. Via Pinterest.
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Another hugely popular tattoo with a hugely popular prayer. Via Pinterest.
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A piece of the Lord’s Prayer over the shoulder. Via Pinterest.

 6. Favorite Bible Verses

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A New Testament verse about freedom — with art to match. Via Pinterest.
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“Those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars.” Via Pinterest.
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Rosie the Riveter can do all things through Christ. Via Pinterest.

7. Proverbs 31:25 — Tattooed with strength and dignity

We could have put one of these into the Verses category, but it’s just so popular — and so fascinating, given the role Proverbs 31 plays in evangelical Christian circles [see here and here) — that it is a category unto itself.

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via pinterest.com
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Via Pinterest.
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Via Pinterest.
Patton Dodd
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