Follow the Money
New Covenant Churches and the Family Protection Lobby
(This article is the third in a series demonstrating the ties of the Maryland Moral Majority, the Family Protection Lobby, the New Covenant Churches of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, to the Wright Family and their connection with the Shepherding Movement. The first article is HERE.)
As a quick recap, the Moral Majority of Maryland was formed in June of 1980, with Bob Wright as the Vice-Chair of the organization. Jim Wright was appointed as the Director of the organization despite the fact that he was in his early 20s and had only graduated recently with a degree in Biology. The Maryland Chapter of the Moral Majority was the 48th to form, no doubt because the state of Maryland was overwhelmingly Democrat and the perceived practical influence was not seen as very high. The National Organization however, surely expected more than being made a National Laughingstock in the press with the decision of Jim Wright to make an issue of “Pornographic Gingerbread Men” in a local bakery.
Smaller Scope – Greater Control
Aside from the drubbing in the press and editorial pages both locally and nationally, however there were some additional issues going on. Bob Wright and Jim Wright, found that the donations to the state organization that was set-up and coordinated so closely with their network at the New Covenant Churches of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, were not coming back directly to them through the National Organization. With that realization, it became quickly apparent that if the Wright’s wanted to keep control of the finances and the agenda of their local chapter that they would need to form their own organization and depart from the Moral Majority formally. As they had embarrassed the organization anyway, and the State Agenda in Maryland was not particularly strong or promising, it took only a couple of months into 1981, for a new organization to be formed called the Family Protection Lobby, and the Moral Majority of Maryland was expelled from the National Organization on June 1, 1981, almost a year to the day it was originally formed.
The Family Protection Lobby, effectively formed from the shattered remnants of the original Moral Majority Group. Where the original group, even though it obviously was strongly influenced by Bob Wright as the Vice-Chair and host of the Organizational meetings through the New Covenant Church network, had broader statewide support from other churches and organizations, the Family Protection Lobby was almost exclusively the property of the New Covenant Churches and especially the Wright Family. Jim Wright remained the director, for the same reasons as before with the Moral Majority. His father Bob Wright, was about to launch a series of political campaigns personally and couldn’t therefore be associated with the non-profit formally. He also resigned his pastoral position and instead became a “consultant”. Jim remained in his position until the mid 1980s until he left to go to grad school and by that time, the direct political aspirations of Bob Wright were apparently at an end and so the farce of Jim leading the organization was no longer necessary and Bob Wright took over the directorship from his son formally.
Bob Wright’s Failed Political Campaigns
School Board (defeated)
In quick order, even while much of the aftermath and fallout was taking place, Bob Wright launched a series of runs for various offices. He first attempted to obtain a seat on the local School Board. An article from the Annapolis Capitol on March 19, 1981 presents Robert R Wright as a candidate. Robert R Wright finished dead last in this attempt by the way.
The applicable text in the article is as follows:
Seven County residents have filed to fill the only open county Board of Education seat this year, including former board member, Frederick W. Hegge of Davidsonville.
Robert R. Wright
Wright, 47, is a native Marylander whose two sons were educated in public schools. A minister since 1974, Wright is currently associated with New Covenant Churches, Inc. and serves as pastor of the New Life Christian Center in Arnold.
He is a retired Navy Commander and pilot of 20 years and attended Towson State Teachers College, now called Towson State University. He is certified in personnel management and administration and taught calculus and statistics for two years at the Naval Schools Command in Pensacola Florida.
Wright recently spearheaded a grassroots citizens movement to have a bill sponsored in the General Assembly for an elected school board.
“I believe my concern (for the children) overrides my objections to the system (of how board members are elected).” Wright said.
“I have a sincere desire to serve the children in the community,” the minister said, adding that he has worked with many youngsters who are not prepared by the school system to lead productive lives as adults. He labels himself a conservative, both fiscally and philosophically.
House of Delegates (dropped out)
Bob Wright also filed to run for the House of Delegate in December of 1981, a campaign he dropped out of in 1982, in order to run for State Senate.
State Senate (defeated)
In what was apparently a doomed House of Representatives campaign, Bob Wright dropped out and filed to run for State Senate against John Cade. It was a failed campaign from the start but it afforded the opportunity for some press. Bob Wright actually filed to run against this incumbent Senator with only 30 minutes left before the filing deadline. The irony too is if you look at his announcement above for the House of Delegates position, he is said to have made a gesture toward party unity by endorsing John Cade, and then he in short order dropped his seat bid in order to challenge Cade directly.
Note in the endorsement, that by this time it was clear to the community that Wright was primarily driven and supported by a “flock of church followers” which was, of course, the New Covenant Churches, Inc. of Maryland. This was the same base as the Family Protection Lobby as well. Note as well the spin given as to Bob Wright’s departure from the Maryland Moral Majority. In one article he claims he resigned because the National Organization didn’t fit his “personal agenda” and then later he claims he had problems with their “national policies.” That’s all vague but when it comes right down to it, both Wright’s were an embarrassment to some degree and further, you only have to follow the money, to see how that factored into the decisions made.
Future articles will look at some of the subsequent scandals that came out of the Family Protection Lobby in very short order after they were formed and Jim Wright’s role in those as well.
The next article in this series is HERE.