Jim Wright’s Misrepresentation of His Past
His Parents and Organic Church
This is an article in a continuing series started HERE.
For the past few years, Jim Wright has been holding forth on Facebook (before the Crossroad Junction Facebook Page operated by Jim and Marianne Wright was shut down by Facebook for Multiple Community Guideline Violations), the internet and his blog site with the claim that his parents, Bob and Mary Jane Wright, were pioneers in “Organic Church.” Jim Wright bases his own claim of “leadership” as an “elder” in Organic Church in great measure upon his proclaimed heritage through his parents whose work he claims to be carrying on.
This is a heart-warming story. It would be even more heart-warming if it were true. As has been demonstrated on this blog time and time again however, Jim Wright is promoting stories that twist the truth and are often gross exaggerations and often, as in this case I believe, outright lies.
The truth, that Bob and Mary Jane Wright, were leaders in what was known in the 70s and 80s as “The Shepherding Movement.” This was primarily based in the Charismatic Movement and operated on the belief that God’s prescribed way of operating was through chains of command or hierarchy in which elders, pastors or “shepherds” provided “covering” between others and God. It’s a strong part of the reason that Jim Wright puts so much emphasis in his writing referring to himself as an “Elder” and also why he lies about others claiming that they claim titles for themselves that they in fact, don’t.
Organic Church, on the other hand couldn’t be more different. Organic Church operates on the assumption that Christ is the head of the church and the body is comprised of equals who work together without anyone attempting to assert leadership and authority over others. Jim Wright is currently trying to “reinvent” himself in the aftermath of his being excommunicated from his last local church in June of 2009 by claiming he now is part of a local network of organic churches that he and his second wife Marianne “had a part in starting.” Jim makes this flimsy claim on the basis of a few small and impermanent home churches formed from a prison ministry he’s been involved in where he’s able to dominate and control former prisoners and their families who apparently have no willingness, ability or permission from Jim to speak as he does all of the speaking and fabricates his own version of reality free from any worries of anyone contradicting him, if in fact there actually are any real people in the background.
Ironically, as soon as 2010 Jim claimed to be a “minister” building this “ministry” as an extension of his parents previous ministry of “home fellowships” from the 1980s. Jim’s parents were living with him at the time, having just recently returned from Texas where they were planting another “New Covenant Church” (a common name for Shepherding Type Churches), due to health reasons for Jim’s father.
Jim Wright has attempted to portray himself as an “organic church planter” even going so far as to call himself an “organic sower” since 2009. He does this while maintaining closed meetings, no named elders, and by maintaining strict control of all communications from his web of organizations that look eerily like the network that his father, Robert R. Wright maintained in the 1980s as the leader of the New Covenant Church cult on Maryland. He even tried to join his local ministerium of institutional churches as at that time he really had no idea of what organic church was and he was moving in another direction at the time.
Here’s What New Covenant Churches were Under the Wright’s
The reality, as usual, is vastly different than the story Jim Wright tells now. Here’s a description of the churches under Bob Wright and Jim Wright from the 1980s as reported in the Annapolis Gazette, October 29, 1984. If you have difficulty reading the images, you can scroll to the bottom of this article where it is transcribed in full.
The text of the article for any having trouble reading the images is at the end of this article. Bold text is put in for emphasis by me. Note in the article as well the references to Fundamentalist Christianity. Jim Wright has denied being a Fundamentalist Christian in other areas. Obviously he embraced it fully in this article.
Future articles will further display newspaper articles from this time and also address the practice of “Gas-lighting” used by Jim Wright in his manipulative and dishonest rewriting of his past and his current attempts to deceive others and promote himself in the Organic Church community; a community in which he has no real past involvement and is attempting to destroy others to establish himself as an authoritative voice.
The next article in this series is HERE and it shows the very direct connections between Jim Wright and Sovereign Grace Ministries.
Political action preached from pulpit
By Pat Riviere, Staff Writer
Annapolis Gazette, October 29, 1984
In the last four years, fundamentalist Christians across the nation have been putting the church back into state.
Aligning themselves with the Republican Party and taking their conservative views to the streets and into the voting booths, they are succeeding in making “In God We Trust” more than a slogan on a penny.
While there is nothing new about religious leaders taking a stand on political and social issues, some argue there is an uncompromising moral certitude and self-righteousness to their politicking.
“I think there is a danger at times, a tendency to bring the same certainty, the same absolutism that one has in one’s religious beliefs to every single political issue,” said Del. Robert G. Kramer, D-Cape St. Claire.
Kramer, a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Cape St. Claire, had been viewed by many as one of the new conservatives when he first entered the legislature in 1983. It’s an image Kramer has worked hard to overcome.
“I don’t think that (religion) necessarily means that you can predict all of one’s political beliefs,” Kramer said. “And I don’t think the Republican Party has ownership of the evangelicals.”
In Anne Arundel County, the New Covenant Church has spawned some of the most visible of the new right fundamentalist Christians.
One of the numerous charismatic churches that sprung up in the late 1970s, New Covenant Church leaders began making themselves heard politically in 1980.
The three churches in Anne Arundel County have attracted a following who campaign for political and moral issues with the same zeal they praise the Lord during three-hour Sunday services.
I don’t believe we have a full representation of our society (in politics) because the fundamentalists have not participated in the political process,” said Robert R. Wright, a former Navy pilot and one of several people who helped found the New Covenant Church in 1976 (date unclear in image.)
Wright, a self-employed business consultant, ran for a seat on the county Board of Education in 1980 two years later mounted a surprise challenge to state Sen. John A. Cade, R-Severna Park. Both campaigns were unsuccessful and Wright tried to distance himself from any perceived leadership role in the church.
In a recent interview, Wright said he sees no difference in New Covenant members getting involved in politics and members from traditional religions becoming active.
However, some critics, including former members, disagree.
“When they (the church) started getting into politics, I felt it was time for me to leave,” said Sandra, who asked that her real name no be used.
Sandra and her husband were members of the New Covenant Church in Eastport from 1977 to 1978. She describes herself as a Christian who shares many of the New Covenant church’s beliefs, including opposition to abortion.
She was drawn to the church, she said because members seemed more active in reaching out to young people with drug abuse problems.
Wright, who is president of the loosely knit corporation of New Covenant churches across the state, said the 3,000 members statewide have an average age of 27 to 30 years.
“They are,” he said, “the conservative alternative to the “yuppies,” the young professionals who have aligned themselves with liberal candidates and the Democratic Party.
“It seemed that most of the members were young people and I was rather stereotyped – I had certain ideas and it was hard to budge,” Sandra said.
I think young people are quicker to get on the bandwagon than older people, she said. Sandra is almost 60 and she did not like being told how to vote and who to vote for.
“I’m just not sure (God) wants me to go knocking on doors and telling people to vote for so and so,”she said. “All denominations, all through history have played a part in issues, but this was the first church where I was told to vote for so and so and not vote for so and so.
The harshest of New Covenant Church critics say church leaders exercise tight control over members.
The church hierarchy does all the thinking,” said “Bill.” Bill and his wife, “Mary Grace” who requested that their real names not be used, attended the New Covenant Church for about a month before an elder asked them not to return.
“They demand absolute obedience to the elders,” Bill said. “Independent thinking is something they cannot tolerate.”
Bill described the church’s control over members as “militaristic.”
But Mary Grace said she saw it as “legalistic.”
“There were just so many rules,” she said. “They don’t want anyone rocking the boat. They only want people they can control.”
Bill said he found the Sunday service depressing, despite the singing, dancing, arm raising and spontaneous verbal bursts of praise.
“There was just something forced about it,” he said.
Mary Grace said she found the church members, “loving.”
“They are very loving people,” she said. They are a very good group and I’m sure the people believe that what they are doing is right,” she said.
But she also said that those loving people would not speak to her once she and he husband left the church.
Sandra also said she likes the church members and continues to work with some in the numerous community service projects church members participate in.
“If there was an emphasis on being obedient, it was done in a very gentle caring way,” Sandra said. “Maybe I did sense something.”
She said that when the Eastport New Covenant church she was attending began growing and the church in south county established, the church leaders began telling members which church they should attend.
“I probably should have just gone to the church that I wanted but I would have felt that I was being disobedient,” she said.
TAKEOVER A FANTASY
Church members deny charges that strict obedience is required and reject the idea that the church is seeking control of the political process.
“That’s fantasy, that’s just not reality.” Wright said.
“There are going to be disgruntled church members, people who just don’t fit in. That happens in any church.”
“It seems like people have gotten paranoid and for no reason,” said David Kelley, a church elder.
Wright traces the the beginnings of fundamentalist Christian involvement in Maryland politics to a 1980 state Senate bill that would have required Christian schools to have a permit from the state department of education.
“We felt that was a direct attack on our rights,” Wright said. “Through that, the fundamentalists in this state got together. We found each other.”
He said he believes fundamentalist Christians have become involved in politics because of three issues: the Christian schools, abortion and economics.
It is the economic issues. Wright said, that have propelled the fundamentalists into the mainstream of conservative Republican politics.
“They believe in rather than a handout, they would rather see people give a hand up,” Wright said. “That’s where they overlap with the Goldwater conservatives.”
In contrast to Wright’s last place finish four years ago for nomination to the school board, New Covenant members helped propel one of their own into a first place finish at last summer’s nominating convention.
Wes Hagood, a New Covenant member and the former chairman of the school board nominating convention committee, has denied charges that the church group stacked delegates at the convention.
“I feel that if a group of people organize and play by the rules, that’s OK,” Hagood recently told a legislative subcommittee examining the school board selection process.
In the wake of the controversy this summer, Gov Harry Hughes rejected the convention’s top choice and reappointed incumbent Jane Sin, the convention’s second choice.
Wright angered traditional Republicans leaders four years ago when 30 minutes before the filing deadline, he withdrew from the race for a state delegate seat and decided to challenge Cade.
Wright said recently he switched races because he thought it was a good move politically.
That same year, three of the church members were elected to the Republican Central and have forged alliances on the 13 member committee that has led to an almost even split.
James Wright, son of Robert Wright and a member of the central committee, said he sought a seat on the central committee so he, “could have some influence on other issues, beyond pro-life and pro-family issues.”
James Wright founded the Family Protection Lobby, an organization he says includes some 10,000 households and lobbies against abortion and for “pro-family” legislation.
“There’s a lot of talk about imposing morality,” James Wright said.
“Nobody wants to contemplate imposing their own morality. But we cannot deny that all law has a moral undergirding. The question is not morality in politics, but what system of morality.”
He also dismisses claims that the New Covenant congregation is seeking to control the political process and that the church leaders exercise control over the membership.”
He also points out that the fundamentalist Christians would not be receiving as much attention if the battles were for liberal causes.
“A liberal organization would not be challenging the status quo because the status quo is fairly liberal,” he said, “We are challenging the status quo.”
“I’m seeing the same kind of crazy paranoia now among the liberals that some of the conservatives have been guilty of in times past,” he added.
Robert Wright agreed, saying he believes the paranoia is coming from those who feel their own power will be eroded by the influence of fundamentalist Christians.
He also said he believes the influence of the fundamentalist Christians will continue.
“I believe it will be the major new ingredient in the political scene until we become a part of the recognized plurality or until the press loses interest,” Robert Wright said.
The next article in this series is HERE and it shows the very direct connections between Jim Wright and Sovereign Grace Ministries.