Jesus in Today's Fashion Trend Raises Debates

( [email protected] ) May 10, 2004 04:37 PM EDT

As the T-shirts with Jesus' name are growing more and more popular, many Christians are pondering upon today’s trend whether or not it is an acceptable way to express one's faith in Jesus.

Partly due to the overwhelming popularity of Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” Jesus has reentered today’s fashion trend with the statement “Jesus is My Homeboy” written everywhere from T-shirts to baseball caps since the last big pop-culture moment during the Vietnam War, when Jesus Christ Superstar ruled stages and movie theaters.

Many young Christians believe this is a ‘cool’ way of expressing their faith whereas some other Christians think this is something that needs to be stopped since such products degrade the name of Jesus Christ.

"Idolatry and instant fame, certainly the media has helped to generate that so our society tends to grandiose everybody," said the Rev. Mitch Olson, youth pastor at Hillside Wesleyan Church in Clyde Township, Fl.

"Now it's Jesus. He walks on water, is faster than a speeding bullet and flies. He's our superhero," he added.

While some people find calling Jesus “my homeboy” doesn’t go together, others say talking about God in this manner is better than no talk at all.

"We're seeing two different cultures lining up and starting to ask similar and deeper questions," said Craig Coon, youth pastor at The Cornerstone Church in Clyde Township, Fl.

"People are looking for a realness to their faith," he said. "They want to know who Jesus is, what he stands for and why it's important to them. If all this hipness comes down to that, then it's OK."

As a Christian, Hailey Bevis from Tallahassee, Fl. knows Jesus Christ is her one and only savior and she is proud to put on her t-shirt that says “Jesus is My Homeboy.”

Bevis is one of many people who proudly proclaim their faith through fashion by wearing T-shirts that boast 'Jesus is my homeboy.'

"I'm really, really Christian and it really shows that," the 13-year-old said. "I didn't just get it because it was cool."

Kevin Furay of Clyde Township, Michigan doesn't mind wearing Jesus T-shirts. "I think they're sweet," said Kevin, 16. "I don't think offensive, but let people really present themselves as who they are and who is their Lord."

Rachel Hinkley, 18, and a member of First Baptist Church of Marysville, said the merchandise is expressive.

"If they wear it as a mockery, then it bothers me," she said. "But mostly, I think they're a cute way to say Jesus is important to me. That's cool."

A Los Angeles-based clothing company, Teenage Millionaire, started distributing the shirts and now the shirts are growing in trend all around the world.

“We looked at the popular icons of the 20th century and Jesus definitely topped the list," said Chris Hoy, a partner at Teenage Millionaire. "This shirt has been in our line for about three years, but it's just now getting all the popularity. The movie is out; there's just a big buzz."

Other Christian statements such as “Go Fish,” “Jesus Loves Me,” and “My Savior is Tougher than Nails” can also been seen on the clothing products.

"It's everywhere. It's at all the stores," said Craig Gross, founder of "This is the latest thing. A lot of people are wearing them not because they want to display their relationship with God, but because it's the cool thing to do."

However, some are insulted by the products and note that such products with Jesus’ name don’t carry any spiritual significance in leading people to believe in Jesus. No matter how much teens like the T-shirts, many believe that having Jesus in the center of fashion and pop culture doesn’t necessarily lead people to have more interest in church or prayer.

"A lot of people find it offensive and say you can't put Jesus on a shirt," Gross said. "I don't think there's much spiritual significance in the popularity of the Jesus junk.”

"I think these T-shirts are disrespectful," said Michael Allan, an attorney from Los Angeles who grew up Catholic. “Mary and Jesus don't belong on T-shirts. There are other ways to show your devotion."