Highway to Heaven


BOB ABERNETHY: Just outside Washington, DC, there’s a 10-mile-long stretch of New Hampshire Avenue. It’s lined with houses of worship: churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. It’s been called the Highway to Heaven. It’s literally a drive-by tour of America’s new religious landscape, strikingly diverse.


Unidentified Man #1: There’s not any of the great religions of the world that doesn’t have some place of worship along New Hampshire Avenue. Someone else referred to it as, “If you want to see the many faces of God, New Hampshire Avenue is the place to come.”

Unidentified Woman #1: It is the Highway to Heaven. You have anything from the Buddhist temples to the Vietnamese to the Spanish-language service, to our service, which is in both languages.

Unidentified Man #2 (Seventh-Day Adventist Church): We come from different cultures, we come from different countries, and we speak English, you know. But what’s exciting is that when you come to the House of God, you know there’s a chair for you.


Unidentified Man #3 (Cambodian Buddhist Temple): We try to do everything like we practice in Cambodia, according to our tradition. So the people who just arrived here, they just, “Wow, just — my arriving to this temple, we just feel at home.”

Unidentified Woman #2 (Conservative Jewish Synagogue): The atmosphere is tranquil, which is something that I don’t find much of outside of the synagogue. I feel as though I need something like that to sustain me a little bit.

Unidentified Man #4 (Hindu Temple): Most of the people from Hindu faith, they come here to worship, and we have as many two to 3,000 people sometimes. You know?

Unidentified Woman #3 (Vietnamese Catholic Church): I escaped from my country in 1981 and we can’t believe it: when we came in the United States, we can have our own church like this one. That really is a dream come true for us.

Unidentified Man #5 (Muslim Mosque): This country has given us religious freedom to practice the religion we would like. Of many countries in the world, this is the place where we can really practice our religion well.