Overblown Outrage

Tattooed Jesus billboard not as controversial as outraged critics think

Tattooed Jesus not as controversial as outraged critics think

Jesus tattoo billboard in West Texas October 2013
The Lubbock billboard of a tattooed Jesus Christ that has caused quite an uproar. EverythingLubbock.com

A billboard of a tattooed Jesus Christ along a West Lubbock highway is causing quite a lot of commotion. The work of the website Jesustattoo.org, the billboard depicts Jesus with outstretched arms, which are tattooed with such words as "Outcast," "Jealous" and "Addicted."

Some people in the community have reacted strongly to the billboard. "I don’t like the picture. I think it’s very derogatory," a Lubbock resident told CBS affiliate KEYE-TV.

The website's homepage features a video that portrays Jesus as a tattoo artist. Several tattooed individuals approach him, revealing their sinful markings, including a woman with "Self Righteous" tattooed on her chest and a young disabled boy with the word "Outcast" tattooed on his body.

Although the billboard has certainly drawn a lot of attention, it hasn't all been negative.

"I thought that it was cleverly done because, basically, it's a visual of Jesus taking the sins of people and covering them and taking them from an outcast or something and giving them a new start, which is what the gospel is about," David Wilson, a senior pastor at Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock, told ABC News.

The six-minute video on the website shows Jesus going to work on the tattooed victims and changing each negative word or phrase into something positive. The woman with the "Self Righteous" tattoo breathes a sigh of relief when her tattoo is changed to "Humbled," and the young boy delights as his tattoo goes from "Outcast" to "Accepted."

The filmmakers' comments on their website emphasize the positive nature of the message. "It really is as simple as it appears. We are a small group of people humbled by the love of Jesus. We are not a church. We are not selling anything. We encourage you to tell as many people as possible. That's it."

Wilson agrees, saying the billboard is a creative way to reach a different demographic. "You know, I use the analogy — I like to fish, and I use different baits for different fish, and to me this is fishing for people who would never walk in the door of a church."