David R. Bains

David R. Bains

S. Louis and Ann W. Armstrong Professor, Interim Chair

Howard College of Arts and Sciences


Office: Beeson Hall 333
Email: drbains@samford.edu
Phone: 205-726-2879
Curriculum Vitae

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.

A leader in the study of sacred space and worship, he serves as co-chair of the Space, Place, and Religion Group of the American Academy of Religion. He is co-editor of The Development of the Church: “The Principle of Protestantism” and Other Historical Writings of Philip Schaff (2017), and author of the chapter on Christianity in Understanding the Religions of the World (2015). His essays on worship, architecture, and religious thought have appeared in the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Christianity, 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.

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 active in the life of All Saints’ Episcopal Church and Birmingham Episcopal Campus Ministries. He eagerly teaches in many area churches.

Degrees and Certifications

  • B.A., University of Virginia
  • A.M., Harvard University
  • Ph.D., Harvard University

Awards and Honors

  • Phi Beta Kappa


  • 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.

Recent Presentations

  • “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.
  • “The History of Church Architecture.” Four-week series. Seekers class, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Homewood, Ala. Sept. & Oct., 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