Religion and TattoosBy Pete On March 19, 2012 Under Posts
Since Roman times wherever Christianity entered the picture tattooing was frowned upon and discouraged. Devout Christians point to Leviticus 19:28, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” That’s pretty clear, I guess.
Tattooing is forbidden to followers of the Jewish faith. Orthodox Jews also look to Leviticus 19:28 as their reasoning. More recent Jewish law, however, permits tattooing if it has been forced upon someone. An example of this was the number each victim was branded with on their arm when they entered the concentration camp during the Holocaust.
The two main sects of Islam, Sunni and Shiite disagree on many things and tattoos are no exception. Sunni Muslims believe that tattoos are forbidden as well as other permanent physical alterations not connected with surgery or health. The Sunni Hadith do not permit any disfiguring of the body, they are haram. The Shias, on the other hand, seem more ambivalent about the subject.
In Hinduism there is no religious police or strict religious law. Hindus believe “All rivers flow to the ocean” and take pains to point out how inclusive and tolerant their beliefs are. There is no prohibition in Hinduism against tattoos or tattooing Hindu gods or goddesses. However, if design is placed in the wrong “areas” of the body they would cause offence, particularly if the image of a Hindu god or goddess were used.
Buddhism, like Hinduism, is non-discriminatory when it comes to body ink. Tattoos are not forbidden as long as the tattoos are not racist or incite hatred.
Sikhs are not supposed to change their bodies, which is why many of the men avoid shaving and let their hair grow. However, browsing the various online forums on Sikhism, it appears there are no restrictions here either regarding tattoos. Some symbols may cause offence but there is no blanket ban.
If one converts to another religion, or a sect of a religion that does not permit tattooing then something must be done to correct this. Such converts are often prime candidates for tattoo removal.
Image credit: Wikipedia