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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Obama's Wallet is Telling

Preachers have always told us that you can see what someone really believes if you look at their checkbook and their day planner. In other other words, don't listen to what they say - look at what they do. I never paid much attention to that, but as I've gotten older, I began to realize that it's backed by a very strong truth in human nature: people don't always do what they say, but they will always do what they believe. And so yesterday's news on the Obamas was very sad for me.

Barack and Michelle Obama made public their tax returns for the years 2000-2006. (They issued a challenge to Bill and Hillary Clinton to do the same thing.) I'm not sure why tax returns are such a big deal for presidential candidates, but they are telling about the beliefs of these individuals.

True Christians have, for centuries, tithed faithfully - giving at least 10% of their household incomes to the church or otherwise to the work of the Lord (i.e. Christian organizations and missions). Obama has been running for president on a platform of Christianity. He's told us that he had a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ and has been a Christ-follower ever since. His tax returns seem to suggest otherwise.

From 2000-2004, the Obamas took in over $1.2 million in household income. That's an average of $244,529 annually over those five years. Their giving to all charity during those years? Just $10,770, or less than 1% of of their income. Folks, these are not generous people. Heck, they are not even obedient people!

When the press questioned this, an Obama spokesman said, "As new parents who were paying off ... student loans, giving ... was as generous as they could be at the time." Could that be true of Christ-followers? I hate to be difficult, but folks, I'm not buying this one. I know people who have two kids, student loans and make only a fraction of what the Obamas make. They still tithe. Children and student loans don't prevent one from being obedient to God.

In 2005, the Obamas' income shot up to almost $1.671 million - and their giving shot up to $77,315. That was 4.63% of their income, almost half what it would have taken to tithe as Christians obedient to God. In 2007, the Obamas' income was only $991,296 and they gave $60,307 to charity. That was just over 6% of their income. I guess the good news is that as they have become more wealthy (the above photo was taken while Barack was relaxing at the Ritz Carlton in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands), they are becoming more generous. Perhaps if this trend continues, they will become truly obedient to Christ!

I don't like taking pot shots at anyone. But this man is asking me to trust him for a lot. Before any of us can really trust someone, we have to know them. I don't think I really know who Barack Obama is. And the troubling thing is that what I do know makes me think he isn't who he says he is.

So Mr. Obama, I'd really like to vote for you. But can you tell me who you really are?

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