When Sen. Obama recently addressed Jewish leaders concerned about Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr and his outspoken admiration for Louis Farrakhan, the candidate attempted to give the impression that his pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ was old and a relic of the 1960s. (Wright is five years younger than John McCain.) But he has appeared to be extremely reluctant to spell out exactly where he disagrees with his pastor other than over his spiritual advisor's admiration for Louis Farrakhan.
It's hard to know what's in a man's heart, especially in the heart of someone as verbally gifted and cautious as the Democratic frontrunner. We do have one objective source of data, however: the Obama family's charitable contributions according to their tax returns of 1998, 2005, and 2006.
The Obamas didn't give a lot to charity until they hit it rich in 2005 with Barack's book deal and Michelle's big raise, but what's of interest here is the pattern of donations. Was there a relative fall-off in support for Wright's Trinity church as they matured politically and emotionally?
According to a 2007 Chicago Tribune story:
"Only a few of the tax returns released by Obama detail the recipients of his charity. In 1998, when the Obamas reported a combined household income of $191,146 and $1,100 in cash donations to charity, the biggest gift went to Trinity. It totaled $400, about 0.2 percent of their combined income.
"In 2005 they gave the church $5,000 and in 2006 it received $22,500."
So, in two of the three years for which we have numbers (1998 and 2006), Wright's Trinity church was the top recipient of the Obama family's contributions. Now, 2006 really wasn't very long ago...