Religious Tattoos at One Christian University

Kevin Dougherty, Jerome Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


More than one quarter of Americans now have tattoos. The proportion is even higher among younger adults. Tattoos express affiliation and identity. For some, tattoos also express religiosity. Very little research exists on religious tattoos. The purpose of this research is to profile religious tattoos among students at one Christian university in the southwestern United States. We analyzed students’ photos of 752 tattoos on campus. One in five photos depicted an overt religious image or text. Both men and women in relatively equal proportions had religious tattoos, but the size, placement, and direction of their religious tattoos differed. Men’s religious tattoos were larger in size and in more prominent places on their bodies. Women’s religious tattoos were smaller, placed in more discrete locations, and were more likely than non-religious tattoos to face the owner. We conclude with a discussion of the practical and theoretical implications of our findings. We highlight t
Original languageEnglish
JournalVisual Studies
StatePublished - Nov 18 2019


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