On Magic City Religion, Samford University students explore the lived religious 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 best known for their roles in the Bible Belt and of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Even the city’s airport is named for a Baptist preacher, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, a civil rights leader.
But Birmigham’s religious life is about more than evangelicalism 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 churchgoers.
Eighty-four students and professors have created fifty-two essays for this site and one detailed annotated map of the Avondale neighborhood. The most recent essays from fall 2020 are by students in a freshman seminar on religious images in Birmingham. In spring 2020 students examined 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. Students began writing essays for this site in fall 2019. Religion majors explored the greater Avondale neighborhood. Students in Introduction to World Religions examined eleven communities throughout the metropolitan area representing Birmingham’s contemporary diversity.
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