Even in the 17th century, Philadelphia had a tolerant approach to religion, thanks to founder William Penn, who had the radical idea that people should be allowed to worship who they want and how they want. The history of Philadelphia's faithful, still strong and diverse today, is summed up in Keepin' The Faith, the latest podcast tour on SoundAboutPhilly.com. The tour is the seventh addition to a new site created by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation and initiated by The Pew Charitable Trusts, featuring free dynamically mapped and completely customizable sound-seeing tours of the city.
Each of the eight segments on Keepin' The Faith focuses on Philadelphia congregants, religious leaders and houses of worship that tell the inside story on the city's religious culture, from past to present. Here's a look at the segments on the tour:
- Christ Church: How ironic that lightning struck the replica of King George II of England's crown that was once perched atop the spire of this Revolutionary War-era church, now also a popular visitor attraction?
- Congregation Rodeph Shalom: As if being the oldest Ashkenazic congregation in the Western Hemisphere isn't enough history, this spectacular synagogue, designed by Frank Furness, also features displays of historic Judaica.
- Arch Street Meeting House: The only religious sect awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, the centuries-old Quaker influence is still alive and well in Philadelphia.
- First Unitarian Church: Punk rock concerts probably weren't what minister's son and architect Frank Furness was thinking when he designed this church, but this diverse congregation embraces everyone and even hosts indie rock concerts.
- Tindley Temple United Methodist Church: Generations of freedom-fighters have chanted "We Shall Overcome," but few knew that the genius behind it (and dozens of other gospel hymns) was a Philadelphia minister named Reverend Tindley.
- St. Augustine Catholic Church: Anti-Irish arsonists destroyed the original church in 1844. Rebuilt in 1847 and stronger than ever, the church reverberates with the "Our Father," sung by the Filipino in their native Tagalog language.
- Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church: The burial ground here is a who's who of 18th-century movers and shakers. And the church's history includes music, an appearance in a Hollywood film and even a touch of scandal.
- Masjid Jami'a: After the tragic events of September 11, Philadelphia Muslims found acceptance and tolerance here. Why was Philadelphia different than other cities around the nation? And what is the real Islam all about?
Access the tours at SoundaboutPhilly.com.