By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 8:43 PM on 7th January 2012
A Michigan pastor, bucking tradition and taboos, has opened a tattoo parlour inside his church.
Reverend Steve Bentley said it’s all part of an outreach to people who have never felt comfortable at a traditional house of worship.
Rev Bentley’s church, The Bridge, occupies 3,000 square feet inside a Flint Township shopping centre. Serenity Tattoo is located not far from his office – as well as a galvanized watering trough that he uses for baptisms.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO
Tattoo artists Ryan Brown and Drew Blaisdell work at the county-licensed shop that is open every day except Sunday (which is, of course, a day of worship).
A recovering alcoholic, Rev Bentley told mlive.com that before opening the parlour, he didn’t gain fulfilment from life and was struggling to keep his own tattoo studio afloat.
Rev Bentley said he makes an effort to speak with all who come to the tattoo parlour, though not all of them end up in a pew on Sunday.
‘You can get a tattoo in a clean environment. You can do it while still sticking to your moral code,’ he said.
Rev Bentley rejects criticism that a church is the wrong place for a tattoo parlour, calling it a ‘morally neutral’ practice akin to having your ears pierced.
However, getting permanently tattooed is a taboo in some denominations of Christianity.
A verse in the Old Testament states: ‘Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and o not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.’
Some say the Leviticus verse was only applicable in Old Testament times, as tattoos were associated with Pagans.
Others argue that the body is a temple and is not to be tampered with.
Rev Bentley himself has two tattoos. One of them was done in the church’s parlour.