The words Christian and tattoo don't usually go together in most people's minds, but one tattoo artist in the heart of the Bible Belt is putting those two words together in more ways than one.
Ron Hendon, owner of Midnight Iguana in Athens, Georgia, told The Christian Post that not only are many of his clients seeking Christian tattoos, but that many serious Christ followers, including pastors and church leaders, are requesting to have faith-inspired ink art.
Hendon creates between one to five tattoos for Christian clients each week, although he couldn't say exactly what percentage of his business is from the Christian market.
"The lifelong commitment of having a tattoo and the commitment to one's faith are symbiotic," Hendon told The Christian Post. "Christians are drawn to tattoos for the same reason."
He says that a large number of his clients are Hispanic Christians who usually get tattoos with cross figures, Bible verses and other faith-based symbolisms.
"We have done tattoos on many pastors locally. In fact, a pastor drove nearly two hours from Kennessaw, Georgia, to get a tattoo of a stained glass Jesus, which was on one of the windows in his church," said Hendon.
During his time as a tattoo artist, Hendon notes that he has covered many tattoos for clients who are seeking to conceal a design. However, he says he cannot remember a single time that he has had to cover up faith-inspired art work.
He also said that he has had plenty of conversations with people who say tattoos are a sin. Although he disagrees, he often refrains from entering into a debate with people about this issue. He simply told CP that most people's perspective on the topic is based on a misinterpretation of what the Bible has to say about tattoos.
Regarding tattoos, many Christians tend to reference Leviticus 19:28 which states, "'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the Lord," according to the New American Standard Bible version.
However, Christian author and spoken-word artist Jefferson Bethke says the problem with many Christians' perspective on tattoos is that the biblical text is oftentimes taken out of context.
"It's a little different when you're reading in context … In this chapter, God is giving a lot of statutes and ways in which he lined up the Israelites to live in during that time and if people quote this verse to me, I would hope they live up to the rest of the passages," said Bethke in a YouTube video called, "Are Tattoos Sinful?"
For his part, Hendon says he enjoys creating faith-inspired tattoos because almost everyone gets them not only for their aesthetic appeal but because of the "empowerment" behind them.