This time of year prompts many people to reflect on the role of spirituality in their lives. From the commercialization of religious holidays to separation of church and state, talk about religion can elicit strong responses. This week on WBHM (Dec 14-18, 2009) we discuss all this and more during On The Line: Considering Faith. The program is nightly from 7 - 8 p.m.

Join the conversation by calling 1-800-444-9246 during the program or emailing your comment or question to news@wbhm.org.



Program airs Monday, December 14


The Rev. Tom Duley is an ordained Elder of the North Alabama Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves as the Executive Director of Urban Ministry Inc. Rev. Duley has a long history of working in the area of missions and social justice both within congregational settings and outside them. Rev. Duley is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University and Asbury Theological Seminary.

Father John McDonald is principal of John Carroll High School. He is also associate pastor at Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church.

In 2004, at the close of a seven-day fast, James Sutton answered the call to preach. He was licensed and ordained as Elder of the church in April 2008 and has "preached the uncompromising Word of God with fire and fervor" across the country from Birmingham to California. Prior to becoming a preacher, Sutton was a successful public relations professional, working with The Salvation Army in Jackson, Mississippi to raise nearly $100,000 for homeless and poverty-stricken residents and as an account executive at Elements Communications, the nation's oldest African American-owned PR firm. Sutton volunteers with several local non-profits including being on the boards of the American Diabetes Association (AL, MS Chapter), Alabama Community AIDS Fund, the Dream Center and Gateway. He is also a member of Young Business Leaders. After Hurricane Katrina, James and his wife Marie led a citywide Bible drive, collecting more than 500 Bibles for victims. The Suttons attend The Worship Center Christian Church.



Program airs Tuesday, December 15


Madhu (Sam) Shah is president of the board of trustees of the Birmingham Hindu Temple and Cultural Center. He's led/taught/coordinated the Divine Youth Group for 20 years. Shah is a retired nuclear/electrical engineer with the Southern Company.

Dr. Santosh Khare is a retired UAB physician who now devotes most of his time to spiritual matters, study and contemplation. He chairs the Religion Committee at the Hindu Temple of Birmingham, which is located in Pelham.

Sanjiv Bajaj was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. After attending Indian Springs School, he majored in English at Princeton University. He then returned to Birmingham to attend UAB medical school. Sanjiv now is a resident physician in radiology in St Louis, Missouri, where he also founded and directs a theater company. His primary interests outside of work are in the arts and religion. He has studied Hinduism both informally and formally over the years.



Program airs Wednesday, December 16


After graduating with a B.A. from American Jewish University in 1993, Rabbi Michelle Goldsmith received her Master of Hebrew Letters from the same university the following year. Rabbi Goldsmith then attended the Jewish Theological Seminary, from which she received an M.A. and her ordination in 1998. After three years as Associate Rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom Congregation in Jacksonville, Florida, Rabbi Goldsmith joined Temple Beth Sholom in Sarasota, where she has served as Associate Rabbi since 2001. At Beth Sholom, she was instrumental in revitalizing the day and religious schools, and created and led teen, adult, and family education programs.

Rabbi Hausman-Weiss is the Director of Adult Jewish Educational Outreach at Temple Emanu-El . Hausman-Weiss joined the congregation in 1999 to enrich adult learning opportunities. He has spent the last seven years teaching and engaging both young and old alike in a variety of settings including special adult programs, religious schools and Jewish camps. Ordained at the Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Hausman-Weiss received two Masters degrees including Jewish Education and Hebrew Letters. A native of Los Angeles, he and his wife, Natalie, are the parents of two sons, Abraham and Samuel.



Program airs Thursday, December 17


Imam Raed Awad earned his Bachelor degree in Islamic Jurisprudence in Islamic University of Medina. In 1984 he moved to Chicago due to political instability in the Middle East. He has also worked as a chaplin for federal, state and county prisons in Arizona. Award lived in Florida before moving to Birmingham in 2004. In 2009, he became a full-time Imam for the Birmingham Islamic Society. This organization is a nonprofit religious organization established to facilitate the Muslims of the Birmingham metropolitan area for the worship of Allah.



Program airs Friday, December 18


Janet Bronstein has lived in Birmingham since 1984 and has been on the faculty of UAB since 1987. A meditation practitioner and teacher when she moved here, she participated in the founding of the Birmingham Shambhala Meditation Center in 1997 and served as the Director from 2006-2009. The Birmingham Shambhala Meditation Center is part of a world-wide network of meditation centers, providing meditation instruction and supporting the community of meditators with guidance, classes and places to practice. Shambhala is a tradition rooted both in Tibetan Buddhism and in the secular practices and teachings of societies that have expressed sanity and peacefulness throughout history.

~ December 14, 2008