Billboards featuring a tattooed Jesus Christ have stirred quite the controversy among Texas residents. The billboards are part of an advertising campaign for the website Jesus Tattoo. At least one of them is located on the side of a highway in West Lubbock.
The advertisement shows a tattooed image of Jesus Christ, stretching out his arms, which feature large tattoos with words such as “Jealous” and “Addicted.” An oversize tattoo reading “Outcast” is also visible on his chest. The address for the website dominates the rest of the billboard.
An accompanying video -- found on the Jesus Tattoo site -- depicts Jesus working as a tattoo artist. Numerous tattooed individuals walk up to him and show him marks of their past represented by tattoos on their bodies with words such as “Self Righteous” and “Outcast.” As the video continues, Jesus works on the tattoos of his shamed victims -- changing the negative words into positive ones. The negative labels then move to the body of Jesus, apparently symbolizing that he takes on the sins of his followers. The people behind the video stress on the site that the ad campaign has no hidden agenda and that the project “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.”
Some Texans haven’t been inspired by the imagery or the advertisement, though, calling it blasphemous and inappropriate. “I don’t like the picture. I think it’s very derogatory,” one local resident told the CBS affiliate KEYE-TV in Austin. But other residents were more welcoming of the campaign. David Wilson, a senior pastor at the Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock, told ABC News that he “thought that it was cleverly done.”
Ashleigh Sawyer -- media-relations coordinator for Jesus Tattoo -- said the site is open to the dialogue the controversy has sparked. “We’re finding that those who visit the website and watch the video come to understand the message of the campaign,” Sawyer said. “Certainly, like with all deeply personal relationships, not everyone approves of the image of Jesus with tattoos, but we welcome the controversy because we understand that a dialogue on the issue is the best way to spread the message.”
In all, 59 of the billboards have been placed around Lubbock, according to the local KCBD NewsChannel 11.