Atlanta, a leading city of the New South, is described as “the buckle of the Bible Belt,” “the heart of the Old Confederacy,” and the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. Today, Atlanta’s multi-ethnic reality is evident in a short drive down Buford Avenue, where Korean, Chinese, Indian, Bangladeshi, and Vietnamese eateries neighbor Mexican, Salvadoran, and American establishments. Professionals from around the globe flock to the “Big Peach,” a city of 420,000, because it ranks fourth in the nation for the city with largest number of Fortune 500 headquarters. Atlanta’s religious landscape is robust, dotted with hundreds of churches, over twenty mosques, nearly as many Buddhist centers, and five Hindu temples.
Atlanta is home to over twenty interfaith organizations, a sizable infrastructure given the city’s population of 420,000. Interfaith initiatives reflect, to some extent, the “religious ethos” of Atlanta; the city is home to several interfaith healthcare chaplaincies; Interfaith Airport Chaplaincy, Inc., an organization that operates in the world’s largest airport facility; and an interfaith television station. There is growing interest among activists in sharing contemplative practices across religious traditions. In an effort to see Atlanta become “a model interfaith city,” Interfaith Community Institute—the “go-to” interfaith organization in the city—holds itself “accountable for fostering trust, inspiring understanding, respecting diversity, facilitating safe interactions, and providing accessible, nourishing programs.”