(RNS) — Mark Charles is not your typical presidential candidate. The son of an American-Dutch mother and a Navajo father, he is an author, advocate and former pastor, and he has a lot to say about America’s future — and its past. Charles sat down with Religion News Service to discuss his presidential campaign, as well as his religious roots. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

So why run as an independent candidate?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the United States of America needs a national dialogue on race, gender and class.

But I didn’t know how to make the nation talk about it. … I concluded the best way to get there is to use the presidential election cycle because

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