San Antonio is a city with a long and rich history, and it has been a place of religious diversity since its inception. Almost 300 years ago, the San Fernando Cathedral was erected in the center of the city, and it is still standing today as a testament to the city's religious heritage. Today, San Antonio is home to a wide variety of religious groups, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Mennonites, Quakers, Greek Orthodox, Bahá'í, Unitarian Universalists and many more. Rabbi Mara Nathan of Temple Beth-El has noted that this attitude of cooperation and acceptance has enabled many different faith communities to establish themselves in San Antonio.
In 1990, there were approximately 140,000 Muslims living in Texas, representing 0.7 percent of the state's population and 2.8 percent of the total Muslim population of the United States. Nowadays, it is estimated that there are 30,000 Muslims living in San Antonio alone. Austin and San Antonio each have 5,000 Muslims, El Paso has 1,500 and there are small Muslim communities in Bryan-College Station, Corpus Christi and Kingsville. The Muslim presence in San Antonio has grown significantly over the past few years with the emergence of at least nine mosques and other Muslim organizations in the city.
Ann Helmke, the religious liaison for the city of San Antonio, believes that this type of cooperative interfaith activism for justice and social causes began to define the religious communities of San Antonio from that point on. She also believes that universities and military bases have played a role in attracting new cultural and religious groups to the city. Temple Beth-El is one of the oldest preserved places of worship in San Antonio. Founded in 1874, it is the oldest synagogue in South Texas and a symbol of the city's growing religious diversity during that period. Rather than leaving it up to young people alone, groups of clergymen from different religious traditions in San Antonio organized their own sit-ins at the Majestic Theater and other locations during the 1960s to help integrate the city more peacefully.