On Magic City Religion, Samford University students ground their study of religion in the lived experience of Birmingham, Alabama. From its founding in 1871, the city grew like “magic” at the junction of two railroads. Birmingham’s religious citizens are most widely known for their roles in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Its airport is the only major airport in the U.S. named for a clergyman, civil rights leader, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. But Birmigham’s religious life is about more than segregation and civil rights. Its world famous leaders include not only Martin Luther King Jr. but also Mother Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network. Today its religious citizens include Catholics as well as Protestants, Buddhists as well as Muslims, the unaffiliated as well as church members.

Students began writing essays for this site in fall 2019. That semester religion majors explored the greater Avondale neighborhood, while students in Introduction to World Religions examined eleven communities throughout the metropolitan area. These represent Birmingham’s contemporary diversity. In spring 2020 students examined four prominent images of Jesus Christ in dialogue with The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America by Edward Blum and Paul Harvey. Other projects were underway but had to be suspended due to COVID-19. Click the images below to explore aspects of our work. Please use the comments or email to share your perspectives with us. We hope to hear from you!

A Teaching Project at Samford University
edited by David R. Bains, professor
Department of Biblical and Religious Studies
Howard College of Arts and Sciences


David R. Bains
205-726-2879, twitter @DavidRBains
Department of Biblical and Religious Studies,
Samford University, 800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35229