David Bains is a historian of religion in the United States. His courses explore the interplay of culture, ideas, and religious practices. He regularly teaches classes in several areas including: the history of Christianity, world religions, American religious history, Christian worship, and biblical studies. A native of Hampton, Virginia, he was fascinated by history, religion, ritual, and architecture from a young age. He studied physics and religious studies at the University of Virginia and received his Ph. D. from Harvard University.
He is co-editor of The Development of the Church: “The Principle of Protestantism” and Other Historical Writings of Philip Schaff (2017), and has contributed chapters to The Future of Mainline Protestantism in America (2018), The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Christianity (2016), Understanding the Religions of the World (2015), and Faith in America (2006). His essays on worship, architecture, and religious thought have appeared in the Encyclopedia of Religion in America and the journals Theology Today and Church History. He leads tours of religious sites at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the American Society of Church History. The video portion of his curriculum on church architecture developed for Samford’s Center for the Worship and the Arts is available online. He blogs about his research and teaching at www.chasingchurches.com.
A faculty leader, Dr. Bains was interim chair of the religion department for three years beginning in 2015. He had also led the department as acting chair on previous occasions for a total of two years. From 2015 to 2018 he served as the inaugural chair of Samford’s General Education Committee. In 2008 he founded Samford’s chapter of Theta Alpha Kappa, the national honor society for theology and religious studies. He was the principal author of the religion department’s 2018 self-study for an academic program review and a co-author of the 2018 self-study for the Core Curriculum.
He enjoys bicycling, photography, hiking, kayaking, gardening, and entertaining students at home with his wife, Martha. He is a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood and also active in the life of All Saints’ Episcopal Church and Birmingham Episcopal Campus Ministries. He often teaches in area churches.
Degrees and Certifications
- B.A., University of Virginia
- A.M., Harvard University
- Ph.D., Harvard University
Awards and Honors
- Phi Beta Kappa
- S. Louis and Ann W. Armstrong Professor of Religion, 2016-18
- “Beliefs and Practices.”” In Future of Mainline Protestantism in America, edited by James Hudnut-Beumler and Mark Silk, 59–82. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018.
- The Development of the Church: “The Principle of Protestantism” and Other Historical Writings of Philip Schaff, ed. with Theodore Louis Trost. Mercersburg Theology Study Series. Vol. 3. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf and Stock, 2017.
- “Church Architecture Worldwide since 1800.” In The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Christianity, edited by Lamin Sanneh and Michael McClymond, 386-98. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2016.
- “Christianity.” In Understanding the Religions of the World: An Introduction, edited by Will Deming, 325-88. Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.
- “Philip Schaff: The Flow of Church History and the Development of Protestantism.” (With Theodore Louis Trost.) Theology Today 71, no. 4 (January 2015): 416-28.
- "Architecture, Protestant, From the Nineteenth Century to the Present," "Religious Thought," "Worship, Catholic," "Worship, Contemporary Currents," and "Worship, Protestant." In Encyclopedia of Religion in America, edited by Charles H. Lippy and Peter W. Williams. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2010.
- "Contemporary Worship: Trends and Patterns in Christian America." In Faith in America: Changes, Challenges, New Perspectives, Vol. 3, Personal Spirituality Today, edited by Charles H. Lippy, 1-23. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2006.
- "Conduits of Faith: Reinhold Niebuhr's Liturgical Thought." Church History 73 (March 2004): 168-194.
- “Introduction to Islam.” St. Martha’s Guild. All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Homewood, Ala. April 16, 2018.
- “Star Wars and Daoism.” Faith and the Modern Family, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Homewood, Ala. February 25, 2018.
- “Philip Schaff and the Place of the Bible in the Organic Development of Protestantism.” The Bible and the Reformation: 2017 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture. Waco, Tex., October 27, 2017.
- “History of Christianity 101.” Nine-week series. Clark Center for Theological Studies. Canterbury United Methodist Church, Mountain Brook, Ala. March to May, 2017.
- “Congregationalism, Anti-Slavery, and the Claiming of Denominational Ground in Washington, D.C.” Spring meeting of the American Society of Church History, Minneapolis, Minn., April 17, 2015.
- “Job: Wrestling with God.” Four-week series. Grace Episcopal Church, Cullman, Ala. Lent, 2015.
- “Stones and Replicas: Using the Holy Land to Christianize the American Capital.” Annual meeting of the Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion, Nashville, Tenn., March 7, 2015.
- “Stones of Hope: American Protestants and Gothic Revival Churches.” Annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Baltimore, Md., November 24, 2014.
- Religious Capital: Representing Religion in Washington, D.C.
- Christian Worship in North America
- American Society of Church History
- American Academy of Religion
- Historical Society of the Episcopal Church
- North American Academy of Liturgy