Religion is a complicated thing. Talking about religion and how it ties to various aspects of society is often even more complicated. But a new half-hour program on WETS-FM/HD will explore the role religion plays in society and how it intersects with social justice and public life.
The weekly program, “Religion For Life,” will be hosted by the Rev. John Shuck, pastor of First Presbyterian of Elizabethton. It begins airing on WETS Thursday at 8 p.m.
Shuck said the show is designed to be an educational program that looks at religion from an academic perspective rather than a sermon-based program. In each episode, he’ll interview local and national figures from a variety of religious traditions and perspectives.
“So in some cases it will be how people of faith or a religion or spirituality are motivated to do good things and sometimes it’ll be a more academic analysis about how religion affects things,” he said.
Those effects — both the good and the bad — will offer a variety of talking points to be discussed during each show.
Initially, Shuck was approached by Teresa Keller, manager of Emory and Henry’s WEHC-FM, to host a religious-themed program for their radio station. After talking with both Keller and WETS director Wayne Winkler, Shuck decided to broadcast “Religion For Life” from the station in Johnson City.
The program will be re-broadcast on WEHC in Emory, Va. on Mondays at 1 p.m.
Although Shuck has been in the ministry for nearly 20 years, he started out as a radio broadcaster in Seattle and Boise, Idaho. He’s excited to have an opportunity that will allow him to utilize both his training in broadcasting and work within the ministry.
“I’ve often thought about ways to integrate these two loves of my life — broadcasting and religious study and religious issues — and, so, it seems like a great way to do that,” he said.
The first episode will feature a discussion with Anthony Flaccavento of SCALE, a private consulting business dedicated to catalyzing and supporting ecologically healthy regional economies and food systems, about building local and sustainable economies.
Other upcoming programs will feature discussions with author Sarah Sentilles, whose book “Breaking Up With God” recounts her disillusion with the church and its patriarchy; local activist Jennie Young, who has been working on informing Tennesseeans about the effects of mountaintop removal mining; and Mazen Alsaqa, a Christian refugee from Iraq who now lives in Michigan.
Shuck said he hopes discussions with these people and others will allow him to present listeners with people whose religion inspires them to do good for the world.
“Religion, however, in practice, does not always lead to the good. I will also present voices who provide a critique of religion especially when it leads to violence, exclusivity and injustice to others and to our Earth. Sometimes, it is the people who are not religious who show us what true religion is to be about,” he said.
“Religion For Life” will broadcast on WETS every Thursday at 8 p.m. and re-broadcast Sundays at 2 p.m. Podcasts will be available at www.fpcelizabethton.org.
For more information on the program, visit Shuck’s blog, www.shuckandjive.org, the program’s pages on Facebook and Twitter or at www.wets.org.