Premiering tonight on the Sundance Channel is a six part reality series about a tattooed, pierced alterna-preacher Jay Bakker, called One Punk Under God. As the only son of TV evangelical preachers Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Jay had a pretty troubled childhood what with the scandals over Jim's illicit affair and accounting fraud, the Bakkers subsequent divorce and Jay's descent into substance abuse. However, now Jay has his life more on track with a marriage and a commitment to running his church, Revolution which holds its non-denominational services in a bar. The series follows Jay's attempts to reconnect with his estranged father, care for his mother who's battling cancer and move Revolution from Atlanta to Williamsburg, Brooklyn when his wife gets into grad school.

2006_12_arts_onepunkunder.jpgWhat makes this show compelling viewing is when it focuses on Jay telling stories to his congregants about his past and struggles to find God. Usually when kids do that 180 rebellion from their conservative parents with body art and drugs, they don't end up coming back to the fold. But for Jay, his sense of conviction in the power of faith is pretty remarkable even to a cynical, urban TV viewer. In one scene in tonight's episode, he holds a packed bar rapt as he preaches. Afterwards, you can just see how moved the audience was by his honesty about his problems and the comfort he finds in religion. We also see Jay travel back to the now dilapidated Heritage, USA, a crazy elaborate theme park for Christianity run by his parents where Jay spent many childhood days, and are introduced to Jay's adorable wife, Amanda, an opinionated nurse with Run Lola Run electric red hair.

The producers of the series also made a great documentary about Jay's mom, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, so we expect good things from the rest of the episodes which run through January on Wednesdays at 9 pm. You can download the first episode for free on iTunes.

Daniel Radosh wrote a Talk of the Town piece in The New Yorker about Jay when he first moved his church to Williamsburg. Jay Bakker also wrote a book in 2001 about his experiences aptly titled, Son of a Preacher Man.