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Medill Belief and Public Life

Christian Tattoo: The Needle for the Nail

Christian body art at the Cornerstone Music Festival
By Benjamin Helfrich, August 16, 2007

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The Needle for the Nail:

Christians showing faith, independence through tattoo

By Benjamin Helfrich

Omar Edmison bought a cheap, gold-framed picture of Jesus from a man whose pickup truck was parked on a Texas back road. That purchase now hangs on the wall of his All-American Tattoo Shop in Salem, Ore. in concert with a bevy of classic tattoo stencils that customers eagerly pick to have cut into their body.

“It started out as a regular old street tattoo shop,” he said. “But then I got saved and it has become my ministry.”

Many younger Christians, whose attendance at traditional churches is waning, are now turning inward and toward churches willing to stray from old-fashioned creeds and inch more towards a contemporary interpretation of the Bible.

For 15 years,