If I got to ask a question at the presidential debates …

If I got to ask one question at a presidential debate, it would be this: Christian teachings have long identified greed as one of the seven deadly sins. Do you think greed is a sin, and, if so, how do you define it and how would your policies address it, particularly the racial wealth gap?

(OK, I know, that’s more than one question. But if you only get one shot, you have to wrap in several follow-up questions.)

Graph of household wealth by race. Data on Native American households not included. (Source: The Ever-Growing Gap.)

Joe Biden is a Catholic, Donald Trump a Presbyterian. They should get the question. But if debate organizers allowed time for a little context, I would note that the three wealthiest Americans — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet — have more combined wealth than the bottom 50 percent of all Americans, according to the website Inequality.org.

Over the past 30 years, white families’ average wealth grew by 84 percent, or triple the rate for black family wealth, according to the 2016 report The Ever-Growing Gap by the Institute of Policy Studies and others. “If average Black family wealth continues to grow at the same pace it has over the past three decades, it would take Black families 228 years to amass the same amount of wealth White families have today.”

It’s a moral question as well as a policy question, and a good question to ask at any number of candidate debates: “How do you understand the racial wealth gap through the lens of your faith tradition and what are your solutions?

For an interesting 5-minute video on the downside of extreme wealth, click here.

If you got one shot to ask a question at a presidential debate, what would you ask?

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