By BARBARA SCHMITT | ABC News
A billboard showing a tattooed Jesus Christ has stirred up quite a bit of buzz in the heart of the Bible Belt.
The ad, which is the work of the website Jesustattoo.org, popped up along a West Lubbock, Texas, highway, and it's got people talking. It shows a man, ostensibly Jesus Christ, with outstretched arms tattooed with such words as “Outcast,” “Addicted, “Jealous.”
“I don't like the picture. I think it's very derogatory,” a local-area resident told the CBS affiliate KEYE-TV.
On the website, a video casts Jesus as a tattoo artist and shows several tattooed individuals approaching him to reveal their sinful markings. A woman with “Self Righteous” tattooed on her chest and a young disabled boy with the word “Outcast” tattooed on his body come forward.
ABC News' calls to the group behind the video and controversial billboard were not immediately returned.
While the billboard has drawn a lot of attention, not everyone finds it blasphemous or outrageous.
“I thought that it was cleverly done because, basically, it's a visual of Jesus taking the sins of people and covering them and taking them from an outcast or something and giving them a new start, which is what the gospel is about,” David Wilson, a senior pastor at Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock, told ABC News.
Wilson said there's a great message within the billboard and video once one gets past its shock value.
“I looked it up, and I said … this is perfect because it just draws people in here,” Wilson said.
Over the course of the six-minute video, Jesus goes to work on the plagued tattooed victims and changes each shameful or negative word or phrase into something positive. The woman in the video breathes a sigh of relief when her tattoo is transformed from “Self Righteous” to “Humbled.” The young disabled boy shows pride as he goes from “Outcast” to “Accepted.”
On their website, the filmmakers emphasize the uncomplicated nature of their message. “It really 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.”
Wilson said the billboard and video are different ways to reach different people.
“You know, I use the analogy — I like to fish, and I use different baits for different fish, and to me this is fishing for people who would never walk in the door of a church.”
Copyright 2013 by ABC News