Dear Mr. Trump: Christian Questions You Still Need To Answer

Mr. Trump, you had a meeting today and invited almost 1,000 Christians to it. From the reports so far, the people you asked to come were overwhelmingly white, old, evangelical, conservative men. There were lots of other evangelicals that you didn't invite, even some old white evangelical men like me who have raised questions to you that you have yet to answer. And it would have been so much better to have invited more black, brown and young evangelical women and men, from a broader spectrum of political perspectives. You would have been asked some better questions. I've been told some of the questions you were asked today, as well as the questions you weren't asked.

You were asked about religious liberty, and answered that you would appoint conservative Supreme Court justices as recommended by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. People of faith across all our traditions do care deeply about religious liberty, and we need to ask you about the ban on all Muslims from entering our country which you continue to propose, along with your proposed surveillance of mosques and the profiling of Muslims already living as citizens in the United States of America. You didn't answer any questions about how those stances are compatible with a belief in religious liberty.

You were asked about poverty, crime, and racial issues. I'm glad you were, because those moral and biblical matters are at the heart of many of our deepest concerns about you. You said that black Americans were being "screwed over" by the economy and you would offer more jobs. We all agree that jobs are critically important to solving the problems of poverty. But you have to also answer why you have claimed an American judge couldn't be fair to you because of his Mexican heritage, made hateful comments about Mexican immigrants, been painfully slow to distance yourself from KKK and other white supremacist groups, and have regularly stoked racial fear and division, even in continually disparaging our first African American president as not really one of "us." Mr. Trump, our churches are becoming more diverse, as our country is, and we regard that as a blessing and a gift from God, not as the threat you and many of your followers seem to think it is. You have to answer our questions about racial bigotry.

You were asked by a Latino evangelical leader how you would protect our borders while building a bridge to the Hispanic community. You spoke of national security and the threats from immigration and said you would like to build better relationships with Hispanics, but without saying how you would do that. You need to answer why and how you would deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, breaking up all those families, and dividing our local communities. Jesus tells us that how we treat "the stranger" among us is literally how we treat him. But I'm told Jesus didn't even come up at today's meeting.

When asked about national security and issues of terrorism, you committed to spend more on the military, give Israel 100% support, and again called our current leaders "stupid." You didn't answer how you could, in good conscience, bring back torture as you have promised -- which is a moral issue for many of us in the religious community, as well as a violation of international treaties our country has signed. And your horrific promise to kill the families and children of terrorists is a moral question that you desperately need to clarify.

When asked, you agreed that we should pray for our political leaders but then said that should mean only praying for the good ones -- assuming you meant yourself. Mr. Trump, it has been said that you may be the most irreverent and illiterate candidate when it comes to religion that either party has ever nominated, which is why it seemed so ironic that you today accused your likely opponent, Hillary Clinton of being weak in her faith. Your statements and behavior today and throughout this campaign raise many questions about your own beliefs, from the things you have said about not having asked God for forgiveness, to your remarkable lack of knowledge about Christian faith and lifestyle. Slowly learning the language of evangelicals will not substitute for moral positions on the public questions that our faith lifts up. You need some deeper conversations with the faith community about that.

You should know that there are many more evangelicals and many different kinds of evangelicals than you met with today. You should meet other evangelicals, other Christians -- especially from racial groups that you have targeted in negative ways -- and you should talk to some Muslims who you make so afraid. The language you most need to understand is that of the prophet Amos, "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." There are many evangelicals who also would suggest you learn the language of Jesus who told us to care for "the least of these;" and said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."