A new podcast devoted to race, religion and politics is scheduled for release later this month at Good Faith Media (GFM).
“The Raceless Gospel,” hosted by Rev. Starlette Thomas, will drop all five episodes of its first season on Monday, March 22. Listen to the trailer here.
Each episode features a different guest – and is structured like a church service. It’s five Sundays, if you will.
“The podcast is structured like a church service because race, religion and politics go to church every Sunday,” says Thomas, who began her “Raceless Gospel” blog in 2011. “Specifically, we also need to take race to task theologically and really think about what it means to our faith. We need to ‘have a little talk with Jesus’ about race and the ways in which it malforms his body.”
Thomas says the podcast “is not about colorblindness versus post-racialism, denominationalism versus post-denominationalism, conservatism versus liberalism. This is not about picking and choosing or picking one’s battles but picking holes in the things that pit us against each other.”
Each episode features different elements of a Sunday worship hour: welcome, testimony, sermon, call to discipleship, offering and benediction.
“Folks do not have to like church or have any church experience to like the podcast,” says Thomas. “It is structured as a church service to normalize these conversations as an expression of Christian discipleship, as a spiritual practice, as an act of faith. Because the church in North America has not responded well to race, religion and politics, which is why folks don’t like the church and rightly so.”
Each episode’s “sermon” is a back-and-forth between Thomas and her guest. Guests, in order of episode appearance, are:
- Josina Guess, managing editor at The Bitter Southerner
- Dr. Michael Bledsoe, an author and former pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
- Jeremy Bell, general secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship
- Thomas Bowen, the Earl L. Harrison Minister of Social Justice at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
- Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, chief operating officer at the National Council of Churches
“The guests are all comfortable in their own skin and live through their convictions unapologetically,” says Thomas, who knows each guest well.
“What any powerful thinker offers people is not so much answers but questions,” says Michael Bledsoe, Thomas’ guest in episode two. “What people are going to come away with after listening to Starlette, or overhearing a conversation with her and others with whom she is engaged, will be a way of reframing our perceptions.”
“Because she is so well-read and educated in not just theology but poetry and literature, I benefit by her gifts of word and the evocation of the Holy in the midst of our mundane and too often profane world,” Bledsoe continues. “And because of her fierce authenticity I’ve been blessed by her prophetic engagement with our current racial reckoning in America.”
Production on “The Raceless Gospel” began in earnest last fall, nearly a decade after Thomas launched her blog of the same name. Thomas wrote the podcast episodes herself. She was joined in production by GFM media producer Cliff Vaughn.
“‘The Raceless Gospel’ podcast is important because the willful silence around the issues that arise with regard to race, religion and politics is killing us and any chance at reconciliation,” says Thomas. She characterizes the silence as “our feigned and sinful laryngitis.”
The podcast offers a new church experience, in a way. Thomas even playfully refers to herself as “your podcast pastor.”
“‘The Raceless Gospel’ podcast fills the niche in faith, identity and belonging,” she says, “and scratches the itch for those who want to have rigorous and informed discussions around race, religion and politics, who don’t want to choose between one or the other, who are tired of holding their tongues because ‘we don’t talk about that,’ who don’t have a bone to pick but want to pick your brain.”
Thomas, who is pursuing a doctorate of ministry at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., is a member of the GFM strategic advisory board.
Mitch Randall, GFM’s chief executive officer, approached Thomas last year about hosting a podcast.
“Rev. Starlette Thomas and ‘The Raceless Gospel’ podcast will challenge listeners attempting to reconcile their deep commitment to faith and the human construct of race,” says Randall. “Thomas’ prophetic and priestly voice will stir your soul to action and soothe long-inflicted wounds. Good Faith Media is proud and excited to release ‘The Raceless Gospel’ podcast featuring Rev. Thomas.”
Listeners can learn more about “The Raceless Gospel” podcast at https://goodfaithmedia.org/the-raceless-gospel and listen on Apple, Google, Spotify and more.
“Starlette is not Mary Poppins offering a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down,” says Bledsoe. “She is not an entertainer. She is a fierce and devoted disciple of Christ. People will want to listen to the podcast in order to participate in a transformative conversation.”
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