Religion For Life in Johnson City Press

Thanks to Madison Mathews and the Johnson City Press for this nice article in today’s Faith Section of the paper, “Faith on air:  Weekly radio show takes look at religion in society.”

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

For more information on the program, visit Shuck’s blog,, the program’s pages on Facebook and Twitter or at

Religion For Life Launches!

Religion For Life begins broadcasting January 2012 on WETS FM/HD (89.5 MHz) Johnson City, Tennessee and WEHC FM (90.7 MHz) Emory, Virginia.  Here is the press release:

The role of religion in society will be explored on a new program, a joint production of public radio stations WETS-FM/HD  (89.5 MHz) in Johnson City, Tennessee and WEHC-FM (90.7 MHz) in Emory, Virginia. Religion For Life will be heard on WETS Thursdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm, beginning on January 5 and on WEHC Mondays at 1 pm.

This half-hour educational program will focus on the intersection of religion and public life and religion and social justice.    The locally produced program will feature interviews with local and national figures from a variety of religious traditions and from a variety of perspectives, and will address the effects of religion – both positively and negatively — on public life.

The host of the program is the Reverend John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister for 19 years and currently the minister at the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tennessee.   Prior to entering the ministry, Shuck was a radio broadcaster at stations in Boise, Idaho and Seattle, Washington.

Upcoming programs include author Sarah Sentilles whose latest book, “Breaking Up With God” recounts her disillusion with the church and its patriarchy.   She took leave of the church and let go of a belief in a personal god just as she was about to enter the priesthood.

Another program focuses on local activist Jennie Young, who is alerting Tennesseans about the encroachment of mountain top removal mining.   She sees this destructive mining practice as a moral issue and shows how faith communities are taking the lead in resisting it.

In other programs, Mazen Alsaqa, (pictured above left with Shuck) a Christian refugee from Iraq now living in Michigan, talks candidly about the violence against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and the causes of this violence since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

Shuck also interviews Carol Landis, the chair of the board of directors for the Green Interfaith Network or GINI in the Tri-Cities.  GINI is a coalition of faith communities taking an active role in care and advocacy for the environment and communicating accurate, scientific information to the public.

Podcasts of Religion For Life will be available at and more information about the program will be available on Shuck’s blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter.



RFL’s First Guest: Anthony Flaccavento

Anthony Flaccavento of S.C.A.L.E. will be my guest on Religion For Life January 5th and January 8th on WETS and January 9th on WEHC.

S.C.A.L.E. is an acronym for Sequestering Carbon and Accelerating Local Economies.   We will be discussing strategies and the importance of building local, sustainable economies.

WETS 89.5 Thursday, January 5th 8 p.m. and Sunday, January 8th 2 p.m.

WEHC 90.7 Monday, January 2nd 1 p.m. and Sunday, January 8th noon.

Download Podcast