Religious Tattoos: Much More Than Skin Deep

Jerome Koch, Kevin Dougherty

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This essay extends the practice of religious adornment -- jewelry, attire, and memorabilia -- to the study of religious tattoos. Tattoo acquisition has been steadily on the rise over the past generation. While only 16% of Baby Boomers are tattooed, nearly half of Millennials are so adorned. Motivation for tattoo acquisition includes, but is not limited to, signifying group affiliation, impression management, depicting emotional stories, memorializing loved ones, commemorating events, and expressing the need for uniqueness. These bonds, emotions, and practices are also strongly associated with the expression of religiousness. Religious people join groups, wear jewelry, celebrate and commemorate life passages, grieve loss, and distinguish themselves as witnesses to others. The rise in tattoo acquisition, coupled with the parallel motivations and manifestations of religion, leads us to investigate religious tattoos as marks of faith. Building on previous research by the f
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReligious Tattoos: Much More Than Skin Deep
PublisherColumbia University Press
StatePublished - May 11 2023


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