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Matt Hale
 UPDATE: Matt Hale receives 40-year prison sentence. (4/6/05) 

World Church of the Creator
Year of birth: 1971
Group: The Creativity Movement (formerly known as the World Church of the Creator)
Education: B.A. Bradley University; J.D., Southern Illinois University
Residence: East Peoria, Illinois
Led group since: 1996
Ideology: White supremacy. "Creativity" considers itself a religion based on the belief that the white race is "nature's highest creation" and that "white people are the creators of all worthwhile culture and civilization." Followers do not believe in God, heaven, hell or eternal life. They consider Jews and nonwhites, whom they refer to as "mud races," to be the "natural enemies" of the white race.
Background: American White Supremacist Party, National Association for the Advancement of White People, National Socialist White Americans' Party
Influences: Adolf Hitler, Ben Klassen (founder of the Church of the Creator)

Matt_Hale An admitted racist since the age of 12, Matt Hale became one of the most effective and best-known leaders of the far right after he became head of the World Church of the Creator (as it was then known) in 1996. Under Hale's PR-savvy guidance the group regularly gained publicity for its activities and for the violent incidents associated with its members. A 1999 decision by the State of Illinois to reject Hale's application for a law license, due to his past "conduct," is widely thought to have helped trigger a murderous shooting spree by his follower, Benjamin Smith, in which two people were killed and nine injured - all of them members of racial or religious minority groups.

In November 2002, the World Church of the Creator lost a trademark infringement lawsuit brought against it by the Te-Ta-Ma Truth Foundation, which had successfully trademarked the name "Church of the Creator" years before. A federal judge ordered Hale's group to stop using its name, to give up its Web addresses and to turn over all printed material bearing its name. Hale refused to comply. In January 2003, upon arriving for a contempt of court hearing, he was arrested for soliciting the judge's murder. During Hale's incarceration, special administrative measures were imposed to reduce his ability to communicate with his followers. In April 2004, Hale was convicted of one count of solicitation of murder and three counts of obstruction of justice. Without Hale's leadership, the Creativity Movement has fallen into decline.


Sowing the Seeds

Matt Hale, born in 1971, is the youngest of four sons; his father, Russell Hale, Jr., a former police officer, raised Hale and his three brothers alone following a rancorous divorce when Hale was nine years old. Hale proudly claims that he began his "racial awakening" at the age of 11 after discovering that "white people had been responsible for the vast majority of progress in the world, and as such, the idea that the races were 'equal' to one another seemed incorrect." At the age of 12, he became fascinated with Adolf Hitler and National Socialism after reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and, later, Hitler's Mein Kampf. At 13, he formed a group called The New Reich with a few school friends. Later, while a student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, where he completed a double major in political science and music (Hale is a violinist who favors Tchaikovsky), he founded the American White Supremacist Party. After dissolving the unsuccessful AWSP because, he said, "the organization only consisted of seven or eight people, few of whom were really committed," he tried to open a chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, a group founded by David Duke. It appears that the NAAWP leadership never recognized the chapter, and Hale abandoned this project as well.

Shortly thereafter Hale discovered Ben Klassen's Church of the Creator. Klassen, a one-time Florida state legislator who had drifted among far-right causes, formed the COTC in 1973 with the publication of a 511-page tome entitled Nature's Eternal Religion. The book was a call to "completely reject the Judeo-democratic-Marxist values of today and supplant them with new and basic values, of which race is the foundation." As his title indicates, Klassen believed that race had transcendent meaning; Christianity, by contrast, he disdained as a "suicidal religion." 1

In 1992, as Hale's involvement with COTC grew, he also proclaimed himself "National Leader" of the National Socialist White Americans' Party, another tiny fringe group that, in 1995, he disbanded. He began concentrating his full attention on COTC, and on July 27, 1996, his 25th birthday, the group's Guardians of the Faith Committee "anointed" him Pontifex Maximus ("highest priest"). At the ceremony at member Slim Deardorf's ranch near Superior, Montana, the group itself was rechristened World Church of the Creator.

Leading the WCOTC

Hale revitalized the organization; it began to attract hundreds of mostly young male followers - as well as a considerable amount of media attention because of the legal and illegal actions of a handful of dedicated members. Hale and his supporters propagated their message through aggressive pamphleteering; the proliferation of WCOTC-affiliated Web sites; newsletters; a public access cable show ("White Revolution") that aired in three states; and highly publicized, albeit often sparsely attended, public meetings. The efforts have yielded significant dividends: the group now has more than 65 "contact points" (22 of whom are incarcerated members) spread across at least 22 states, and nine international contacts.

The WCOTC's most common method of spreading its message has been to distribute the 32-page anti-Semitic and racist booklet compiled by Hale, Facts That the Government and the Media Don't Want You To Know. Scattered on innumerable American driveways and lawns during the past several years by WCOTC members, the tract denigrates nonwhites and promotes hoary conspiracy theories about Jewish control of the media and of the Atlantic slave trade, and about the "Kosher Food Tax," as well as material allegedly demonstrating the biological superiority of whites.

Hale has also worked hard to disseminate his views on the Internet. He regularly forwards articles and letters about the WCOTC to his online mailing lists. WCOTC has spawned dozens of sites on the Web - unsurprisingly, given its mostly young and computer-literate members. Hale recognizes that the Internet "has the potential to reach millions of White People with our message and we need to act on that immediately." Updated frequently, the WCOTC home page includes articles about the group, editorials by Hale from The Struggle newsletter, announcements of public meetings and a number of audio files of Hale's radio shows and "Church services." The site makes WCOTC membership easy, providing a membership form, dozens of contact points and a lengthy membership manual that covers such topics as a WCOTC wedding ceremony, advice on dealing with law enforcement and a "Child Pledging Ceremony."

Outreach to Women and Children

Unlike most other hate groups, WCOTC also makes a concerted effort to reach out to women. It offers two venues - The Women's Frontier and The Sisterhood of the WCOTC, each with its own Web site and newsletter. Although church ideology does not consider men and women to be equal, women do play a central role - they are not only encouraged to become members but also to become leaders: "While the Church first and foremost views women's most natural and important role to be that of mother to beautiful White children and loving wives to our glorious White men, our women members, just as our male Creators, can become ordained Reverends and rise to positions of influence." At present, the WCOTC Web site lists two contacts for The Sisterhood and two for The Women's Frontier. The Sisterhood advertises itself primarily as "an outlet for [white women] to express their feelings of racial loyalty in positive ways" like writing poetry and providing support for other "white sisters," while The Women's Frontier focuses on direct racial activism, like distributing WCOTC propaganda and attending meetings and rallies.

The WCOTC also actively recruits children. The WCOTC Kids! site (subtitled "Creativity for Children") utilizes child-friendly graphics to attract young Web users. The home page explains that "the purpose is to make it fun and easy for children to learn about Creativity." Instead of going into detail about the group's racist ideology, children are offered "games and stories and stuff," like crossword puzzles with the following clues: "The _____ are the deadliest enemies of the White Race" or "_____ was the greatest White Leader that ever lived." The answers, "Jews" and "Hitler," are provided on a separate page.

The Messenger and The Message

The best recruitment tool for the organization is Hale himself. Always promising to be controversial, he has been frequently quoted in periodicals and has appeared on numerous radio shows and on tabloid talk shows hosted by Jerry Springer, Ricki Lake and Leeza Gibbons. In July 2000 Hale was interviewed by Tom Brokaw for an NBC report entitled "Web of Hate"; additionally, in September 2000 he was included in a panel for a nationally televised show on MSNBC entitled "Race in America."

As Hale's sound-byte proficiency has grown, his campaign for public attention has intensified - especially since 2000. Conducting public meetings and college campus recruitment rallies at which the media and opponents of the WCOTC far outnumber followers of the group, his message rarely wavers: every social problem derives from the presence of nonwhites and Jews, whom he compares to parasites and mosquitoes: "What stands between [the Jew] and his goal of destroying all that which is beautiful is you and I," he says, "we who are aware of the mosquito and have the hand to swat them. Through our efforts, the true 'judgment day' will come - the day in which the Jews will be rendered harmless for all time."

Hale and the WCOTC also attack Christianity, characterizing it as a religion concocted by Jews that demonstrates their talents as "Master Mind-Manipulators" - Klassen's phrase in The White Man's Bible. Yet, despite Hale's vilification, he realizes that he must attract white Christians to strengthen his organization. Predictably, there is no mention of the group's contempt for Christianity in WCOTC's promotional materials.

Like Klassen before him, Hale is aware of the psychological value of hatred. In an editorial in The Struggle, he says that "[White Christians] yearn not only for a friend but also for an enemy…for indeed, it is much more alluring to be a villain if hatred for the villain is 'off limits.'" Elsewhere Hale has written of trying to affect the climate of public thought by appealing to a general psychological need for scapegoats and placing blame: "While we Creators are of course in this great Cause due to our deep belief in our people, we must utilize whatever tactics necessary to pull the masses away from the degenerate causes and ideas that they currently embrace and realize further that it is possible to have profound influence on the masses without them ever formally joining with us."

He tells followers that the WCOTC is the "most dynamic and inspiring organization in existence for the survival, expansion, and advancement of our beloved White Race." In the introduction to "The Creator Membership Manual," Hale proclaims that the group has "the total solution to the ills of this planet." These sweeping assurances have appealed to many young, disenfranchised and often troubled people.

Benjamin Smith

Even given Hale's talent for keeping his name in the spotlight, the church is best known for the actions of its 1998 "Creator of the Year," Benjamin Nathaniel Smith. By all accounts, Smith (b. 1978), a native of Chicago's affluent North Shore, had been troubled and angry for some time before first encountering the WCOTC and its teachings. A sophomore at Indiana University (where he transferred after a stormy year and a half at the University of Illinois), he had already tried to establish a white supremacy group when, in the spring of 1998, he noticed a flier with Hale's number tucked under the wiper blade of his car. The two later met for dinner. Smith energetically devoted himself to Hale's cause, and gained his "Creator of the Year" laurels for attracting "more media attention to the church than any other Creator, resulting from his massive distribution of Facts That the Government and the Media Don't Want You To Know." Hale encouraged other WCOTC supporters "to view Brother Smith's activism as an example to follow."

In the spring of 1998, Hale earned a law degree from Southern Illinois University and later passed the Illinois bar exam. He was denied a license to practice by the state bar, however, due to his bigotry. At a subsequent hearing in April 1999, testifying before the bar's Character and Fitness Committee, Smith praised his new mentor: "He's given me spiritual guidance….When I first met him, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with my life, what direction I was going to go." On July 2, 1999, a separate state panel turned down Hale's application, whereupon he released a statement declaring, "I have been denied my most precious rights of speech and religion. If the courthouse is closed to 'NON APPROVED RELIGIONS,' America can only be headed for violence." That night - the beginning of the July 4th weekend - Smith went on a 40-hour shooting spree that left two dead and nine wounded before the young gunman fatally shot himself in a stolen van as police pursued him through the Illinois countryside. The victims were all members of racial and religious minority groups, including African Americans, Asian Americans and Jews. (Hale's reaction to the carnage: "As far as we're concerned, the loss is one white man.")

Hale initially claimed that he scarcely knew Smith, then conceded that the two were closely associated and had in fact met days before the shooting. He continued to disavow any prior knowledge of Smith's plans.2 He told The New York Times, when asked if he thought Smith's actions were connected to the Illinois State Bar's decision: "I do. I very much do." To date, Hale has avoided any liability in the case, although several suits have been filed against him.

Violence

While this brutal episode (along with several other criminal actions carried out by former and current members and followers of the WCOTC) brought the group significant attention, it has not, of course, brought it any closer to achieving its goal of white world domination - "free from alien control and free from pollution of alien races." Even Hale, while basking in the media attention, has acknowledged that violence is counterproductive. "The mud races may very well offer some resistance and that resistance will have to be destroyed," he has stated.

"However...violent, illegal acts only serve to put good people behind bars, feed the anti-racist propaganda, and hence diminish the effectiveness of our movement." He argues that the racial revolution, or Racial Holy War (RaHoWa), that he and his followers await depends upon changing the thinking of the uninitiated white masses: "…once we get the White Races thinking straight, the White Race will cease to subsidize the mud races, and they shall wither on the vine." If individual Creators bring sufficient zeal to the cause of racial "loyalism," Hale promises, "you and I shall one day celebrate our victory to the accolades of the masses - and over the graves of our enemies."

Law License Crusade

It was this kind of rhetoric that contributed to Hale's failure to obtain his law license in Illinois. An Associated Press article on July 6, 1999 reported that the commissioners who denied Hale's appeal for the license did so because his activism was in "absolute contradiction" to the required conduct of lawyers. A report issued by the Committee on Character and Fitness quoted racial slurs from the WCOTC Web site as evidence of Hale's "bad character." Hale subsequently filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court; Illinois officials, in urging the justices to reject Hale's case, argued: "as opposed to being excluded from Illinois' bar on the basis of beliefs or speech, Hale's past conduct, lack of credibility and inability to meet his burden of proof doomed his bar application." The appeal was denied; in response, Hale stated that he could "no longer in good faith and in good conscience urge, recommend, or instruct my adherents and supporters in general to obey the laws of this land….whatever blood is spilled with be [sic] on the hands of those who so severely wronged us today." While Hale vowed to continue to fight for his license in Illinois, he also attempted to become accredited in Montana; in February 2001, the Montana State Bar denied his application. Hale vowed to appeal this decision as well and has indicated that he "will apply to all 50 states if necessary."

Messiah in His Own Mind

Hale has said that "Adolf Hitler was the greatest White leader that ever lived"; he has also repeatedly voiced his admiration of Klassen. The fervency of his praise - and his rhetorical fanaticism generally - add to the impression that he sees himself as a new Fuhrer leading a nation of Aryan loyalists toward world domination and a Thousand Year Reich. In a plea that would be comical had it not already led to murder and terror, he has urged his supporters to relocate to the WCOTC "World Headquarters" (essentially, his brother's old bedroom in his father's house, where Hale still lives): "Just as Adolf Hitler knew that before he could win Germany, he must first win his home turf, Munich and then Bavaria as a whole, before we can win the world, I fervently believe that we must win our capital, Illinois."

"I am proud to lead our Church," he says, "and I am proud to hear it said by Creators that I am the 'Great Promoter' that our Founder so unswervingly sought during his lifetime. I may have come too late to be the Great Promoter during his lifetime, but it is my unshakable determination that through my efforts and through the efforts of you, my Brothers and Sisters, that we will indeed completely and everlastingly win this Racial Holy War. RAHOWA!"


1Ironically. Klassen himself committed suicide in 1993. His death created a void of leadership in the group that Hale later filled.

2Smith mailed a certified letter to Hale on July 2, 1999, formally breaking off his ties with the WCOTC. In the letter, Smith stated: "Although I have not been a member of the World Church of the Creator since April 1999, due to my past public support of that legal and religious organization run by Matt Hale, I find it necessary to formerly [sic] break with the World Church of the Creator because I am unable + unwilling to follow a legal Revolution of values."

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