Are Humanists Less Likely to Get a Tattoo?

Do you have a tattoo? Read our article and answer our poll below.

There are many reasons why people decide to get tattoos. Some do it for spiritual reasons, some for aesthetic reasons, some because it is trendy, and a select few that don’t really have much reason why. And there’s plenty of benefits, too: According to The Huffington Post, a study “showed both men and women had higher body appreciation, higher self-esteem, and lower anxiety” after getting tattoos. Despite the pain (and the level of that pain depends on your personal threshold) of going through the process, tattoos are generally harmless and usually non-offensive, aside from the occasional gang symbol, sexist or racist piece. Tattoos are gaining tons of popularity (one-in-five adults in the United States has one) and are becoming more broadly accepted.

It amazes me, however, when I encounter people who lack the understanding of how big a decision, and permanent, getting a tattoo truly is. I cringe when I see a young person who randomly decided to have a Looney Toons character permanently scarred into their skin or notice a tattoo that could’ve used a proofreader before the needle started buzzing. Did I stress the word “permanent” enough? Assuming you don’t go through the painful process of tattoo removal, it’s more permanent than buying a house or getting married. Heck, tattoos last beyond death! So it’s understandable that many are apprehensive to go through with it, unwilling to commit to such a lasting mark. Does this lack of commitment have any weight in the argument of religion? It is easy for freethinkers to think that a devout religious person is willing to commit to such permanence because they already devote their lives blindly to an idea.

When it comes to a person’s belief, who is more likely to approve of getting a tattoo? Are religious people more likely to get a tattoo because they believe so strongly in their faith that they are willing to dedicate their body to religious imagery as they dedicate their life to a god? Are humanists more likely to get a tattoo because they are freethinking individuals with open minds?

Obviously, most people select tattoos that represent what is important to them. Christian tattoos may be of crosses and Jesus (but for the record, Leviticus 19:28 states, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves”); humanists may get tattoos of the Darwin fish or, indeed, the happy humanist. Flowers, animals, song lyrics, your mom’s name—a tattoo can truly be anything you want.

As a freethinker and a person who happens to have several tattoos, I can say that my lack of faith did not lead me toward tattoos nor drive me from them. There’s no research I could find on a person’s religious belief and whether or not they have a tattoo, but I think many would be curious to learn if a person who believes in a god is more or less likely to get a tattoo based on that belief.

Tattoos are a wonderful, creative outlet for expression that doesn’t need a philosophy or ideology to be accepted or rejected. Just please, don’t get your girlfriend or boyfriend’s name.