Church steeples just as often as skyscrapers penetrate the sky over Richmond, a reminder that the city has been—and continues to be—shaped by diverse “Christianities.” Richmond is simultaneously a symbol of old Southern charm and a city with new religious diversity. As Richmond approaches the 200th anniversary of the Civil War, it appears to draw from both its past and present to decide how such a defining moment in its history will be remembered. Today, “The River City” is now home to eight mosques, six Buddhist temples, two Sikh gurdwaras, three Pagan communities and three Hindu temples.
Locals report that the city’s diversity, its size (relatively small at just over 204,000 people), and its culture of southern hospitality have created a positive interreligious atmosphere. The Interfaith Trialogues, annual conversations between a local synagogue, church, and mosque, exemplifies the spirit of welcoming the neighbor. Education is also a key feature of Richmond’s interfaith infrastructure. The Virginia Muslim Coalition for Public Affairs, the Richmond Peace Education Center, and the Interfaith Reconciliation Center at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church take seriously the charge of educating people about different faiths.