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Justin Bieber tattoo of Jesus: Is it blasphemy?

Justin Bieber tattoo: The pop singer has a new tattoo of Jesus’ name written in Hebrew. Beyond Justin Bieber, what do religious authorities say about tattoos?

Justin Bieber got a new tattoo of Jesus' name in Hebrew on his side. Here he poses in the press room at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas on May 22.

Dan Steinberg/AP

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So Justin Bieber got a tattoo of Jesus’ Hebrew name (pronounced Yeshua) on his side. He got it during a recent trip to Israel, and had to get parental permission, because he’s still a minor.

It’s a pretty small tattoo compared to the elaborate ink "sleeves" of rocker Tommy Lee, or the neck tats of rapper Lil Wayne. Still, some eyebrows have been raised, even though he already has a tiny seagull (in honor of Jonathan Livingston Seagull) on his stomach.

Tattoos used to be the province of sailors and motorcycle gangs. Although now they are almost respectable – practically a uniform for college students – tattoos still have unsavory associations, especially among religious folk.

Christians and Jews seeking guidance, often cite Leviticus 19:28 (King James Bible): "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I [am] the LORD."

Many rabbis oppose inking the skin, although more and more Jews are doing so. There also is a condemnation of the practice due to the forced tattooing imposed on Jews by the Nazis. It is a myth, however, that a tattooed person cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

As far as getting a Hebrew tattoo, apparently Mr. Bieber recites the "Shema Yisrael" prayer before every concert, taught to him by his agent, Scott "Scooter" Braun. "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one," goes the prayer.


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