(Photo: Reuters/John Gress)
An analysis of 12 years of tax returns recently released by President Barack Obama from 2000 to 2011 shows that the First Family donated 1.4 percent or less of their income to charity until he began to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004, and gave only nominal amounts to the church except for substantial donations to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity Church of Christ in 2006 and 2007.
The analysis performed by The Christian Post shows that from 2000 to 2011, the Obamas reported an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of $18,677,610, of which they paid $5,794,492, or 31 percent, in taxes. Almost this entire amount was taxed as ordinary income based on the particular bracket the Obamas fell into from year-to-year, as compared to the 15 percent tax rate on long-term investment income that many individuals who have significant investment income, such as GOP candidate Mitt Romney, pay.
Over the same 12-year period, President and Mrs. Obama gave $1.3 million to various charities, ranging from a low of $1,050, or .4 percent of their income in 2002, to $172,130, or 21.8 percent of their income in 2011. Overall, from 2000 to 2011, the Obamas gave 6.9 percent of their AGI to charity, and less than a quarter of a percent was reported as donated to churches.
A few of the charities that received substantial gifts from the Obamas include CARE, Habitat for Humanity, Fisher House, United Negro College Fund and the Congressional Black Caucus.
During the five year period from 2000 to 2004, the Obamas' tax return did not list a breakdown of charitable contributions because the total amount was often less than 1 percent.
Assuming that for the first five years the Obamas did as least much contributing to the church as they did from 2005 on, the First Couple would have given a total of $62,955 to various churches for the 12-year period, amounting to .3 percent of their AGI. Of that total amount, $53,770 was given to Wright's church.
The president stopped donating to Wright's church completely in 2008 when controversy grew over whether Wright's black liberation theology had affected the president. Prior to that, the Obamas gave a total of $53,770 to Wright's church over a three-year period from 2005 to 2007. The largest contribution was for $26,270 in 2007.
Tax records show that the Obamas saw a dramatic increase in income when he began to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and that charitable giving directly tracks the President's Senate and White House campaigns.
In 2000 when the president was an up-and-coming law professor and soon-to-be State Senator, he and his wife, Michelle, who was a hospital administrator, had a combined adjusted gross income of $240,505. Their charitable gifts of $2,350 equaled just under 1 percent of their income.
In 2005, his first full year in the U.S. Senate, the Obamas reported an AGI of $1.6 million, a significant increase from their prior year's income of $207,647, which was their lowest income during the 12-year period. That same year their total charitable giving increased from 1.2 percent to 4.7 percent.
However, the vast majority of their income since 2005 has come from sales of their books. Obama's salary during his term in the U.S. Senate was around $155,000 and he now makes $400,000 annually as President.
Although the Obamas' top income of $5.5 million came in 2009, the first full year of his presidency, they only gave 5.9 percent of their income to charity with $450.00 going to two different churches.
In 2010, the Obamas' income dropped substantially to $1.7 million, however they reported no contributions to churches, but gave 14 percent of their income to charity, including a $131,000 donation to Fisher House.
In 2011, their income dropped to $789,674, but their charitable giving rose to a 12-year high of 21.7 percent. A $1000 was given to St. John's Church.
Though some Christians believe that tithing is an Old Testament responsibility not transferred to the New Testament, a substantial number of Christians believe grace-filled giving in the New Testament exceeds Old Testament tithing. Pastor Phillip Meek of Love and Truth Church in Savannah, Tenn., asserts that the concept of tithing, or giving the first 10 percent to God, originated in the Old Testament but still holds true for Christians today.
"The Bible teaches, and therefore I teach, that we are to give the Lord the first 10 percent of our earnings, and I view that as gross earnings," Meek told The Christian Post.
"The definition of 'tithing' is giving 10 percent to God, and by that I mean your home church," explained Meek. "Anything above that is an offering that Christians give to individuals or entities they feel will benefit the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. More importantly, tithing is the one area where God gives us permission to test him."
The Christian Post contacted the White House to inquire if the Obamas were members of any one church.
"The First Family has attended services at 19th Street Baptist Church, the Washington National Cathedral, Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, Shiloh Baptist Church, Zion Baptist Church, and multiple services at St. John's Episcopal Church and Evergreen Chapel at Camp David," said White House communications staffer Shin Inouye in an email.
"The First Family has enjoyed worshipping with a number of D.C. area congregations and has not selected one specific 'church home' in Washington."
The President has stated on a number of occasions that he is a Christian and has made a commitment to Jesus Christ as his Saviour.