Religious tattoos at one Christian university

Kevin D. Dougherty, Jerome R. Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


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 study is to profile religious tattoos among students at one Christian university in the southwestern United States. We analysed 752 photos of tattoos on campus. One in five photos depicted an overt religious image or text. Men were more likely than women to have a religious tattoo. In addition, the size, placement, and direction of religious tattoos differed by gender. Men’s religious tattoos were larger in size and in more prominent places on their bodies. Women’s religious tattoos were smaller and in more easily concealed locations. We conclude with a discussion of the practical and theoretical implications of our findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-318
Number of pages8
JournalVisual Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019


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