Watch: Tattoo taboos fading among younger Latter-day Saints

A couple talk about the tattoos they have and the meanings behind them.

(Kristina Martinez | Amplify Utah) Stockton Barney sports a full back tattoo celebrating his home town of Salt Lake City. Barney believes his tattoos are consistent with his Latter-day Saint faith.

This story is jointly published by nonprofits Amplify Utah and The Salt Lake Tribune, in collaboration with Salt Lake Community College, to elevate diverse perspectives in local media through student journalism.

Last fall, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a new version of its youth-focused pamphlet, “For the Strength of Youth,” with revised general principles and values for young members to consider when it comes to sexuality purity, clothing, same-gender attraction, and even tattoos.

“The Lord’s standard is for you to honor the sacredness of your body, even when that means being different from the world,” the updated version of the guide reads. “Let this truth and the Spirit be your guide as you make decisions — especially decisions that have lasting effects on your body.”

Some faithful members, however, like married couple Stockton and Brielle Barney, flaunt heavy ink showcasing their love of Utah, their faith, trials and triumphs. While tattoos may be taboo, they say, ink has never been forbidden.

“It’s never been actual doctrine that tattoos are a big no-no,” Stockton Barney said. “It’s always been a cultural thing.”

Their tattoos have strong and personal meanings, and include images they’re happy explaining to anyone curious to ask. A lot of thought goes into every tattoo, given its permanence, Brielle Barney said.

“It was a decision between me and my Heavenly Father,” she said. “Definitely contemplated it a lot just because growing up, it was such a bad connotation behind tattoos, so I took it very seriously.”

Salt Lake Community College journalism student Kristina Martinez joined the couple and their tattoo artist, Raoul “Grey” Manzano, at The Dark Arts studio in Midvale for her documentary short “Inked: Latter-day Saints, Tattoos and Taboos.”

Kristina Martinez reported, filmed and produced this documentary short as a journalism student at Salt Lake Community College. It is published as part of a collaborative including nonprofits Amplify Utah and The Salt Lake Tribune.