Matthew F. Hale (born July 27, 1971), more commonly called Matt Hale, is the leader of the religious group formerly known as the World Church of the Creator and now known as the Creativity Movement which was based in East Peoria, Illinois. In 1998, Hale made headlines when his application for an Illinois law license was denied for his belief in White Separatism (described as "gross deficiency in moral character"). On April 6, 2005, Hale was sentenced to a 40-year prison term for soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill federal judge Joan Lefkow. He is currently incarcerated in the Administrative Maximum facility in Florence, Colorado.
In August 1989, Matt Hale became a freshman at Bradley University. In September 1989, Hale began writing editorials in the college newspaper, the Bradley Scout, espousing his views of White Separatism. A student at Bradley, Robert Bingham, also a political science major, began a debate in the college newspaper editorial about equal rights and the KKK. Upon coming out to give his surname, Matt Hale invited the KKK to the campus of Bradley in the spring of 1990. Eventually he was expelled from Bradley in 1990 due to his beliefs. At the age of nineteen, Hale burned an Israeli flag at a demonstration and was found guilty of violating an East Peoria ordinance against open burning. The next year, he passed out racial pamphlets at a shopping mall and was fined for littering. In May 1991, Hale and his brother allegedly threatened three African-Americans with a gun, and he was arrested for mob action. Since he refused to tell police where his brother was, Hale was also charged with felony obstruction of justice; he was convicted of obstruction, but won a reversal on appeal. In 1992, Hale attacked a security guard at a mall and was charged with criminal trespass, resisting arrest, aggravated battery and carrying a concealed weapon. For this attack, Hale was sentenced to thirty months probation and six months house arrest.
In 1993, Hale graduated from Bradley University and received a degree in political science. In 1996, Hale took over the Church of the Creator, a religious group that worships the white race as creators of civilization. The church believes that a "racial holy war" is necessary to attain a "white world" without Jews and non-whites and to this end they encourage their members to "populate the lands of this earth with white people exclusively".
After Hale was appointed "Pontifex Maximus" (supreme leader), he changed the name of the organization to the World Church of the Creator. The name was changed again to the Creativity Movement when a religious group in Oregon (the Church of the Creator) sued Hale's group for trademark infringement. Hale ran the church from an upstairs bedroom at his father's two-story house in East Peoria.
Hale graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Law in May 1998 and passed the bar in July of that same year. On December 16, 1998, the Illinois Bar Committee on Character and Fitness rejected Hale's application for a license to practice law. Hale appealed, and a hearing was held on April 10, 1999. On June 30, 1999, a Hearing Panel of the Committee refused to certify that Hale had the requisite moral character and fitness to practice law in Illinois.
Two days after Hale was denied a license to practice law, a World Church of the Creator member named Benjamin Smith went on a three-day shooting spree in which he randomly targeted members of racial and ethnic minority groups in Illinois and Indiana. Beginning July 2,1999 Smith's rampage he shot nine Orthodox Jews walking to and from their Synagogues in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood, killed two people, including former Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong, in Evanston, Illinois, and a 26-year-old Korean graduate student named Won-Joon Yoon who was shot as he was on his way to church in Bloomington, Indiana. Smith wounded nine others before committing suicide on July 4. Mark Potok, director of intelligence for the Southern Poverty Law Center, believes that Smith may have acted in retaliation after Hale's application to practice law was rejected.
After Smith's shooting spree, Hale appeared on television and in newspapers saying, "We do urge hatred. If you love something, you must be willing to hate that which threatens it." He also referred to non-whites as "mud races." According to Hale, America should be occupied by only whites. During a television interview that summer, Hale stated that his church didn't condone violent or illegal activities. Meanwhile, Hale was distributing thousands of copies of the "White Man's Bible," a book which encouraged a war against Jews and "inferior, colored races". In public, Hale claimed to be against violence, but his church's bibles expressed the opposite sentiment: "You have no alibi, no other way out, white man! It's fight or die!
Hale's reactions to Smith's shooting spree were also recorded by a police informant, and on the tapes Hale supposedly laughs about the murders and imitates the sound of gunfire. The tapes were used by the district attorney's office to prosecute Hale after he was arrested on January 8, 2003 for soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill federal Judge Lefkow.
Hale had previously filed a class action lawsuit against Lefkow in late 2002, around which time threats against her life appeared on the white supremacist forum Stormfront.org and other websites. Prior to his arrest, Hale denounced Lefkow in a news conference, claiming that she was biased against him (in his trademark case) because she was married to a Jewish man and had grandchildren who were biracial.
On February 28, 2005, Lefkow's mother and husband were murdered at her home on Chicago's North Side. Chicago Police revealed on March 10 that Bart Ross, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case that Lefkow had dismissed, admitted to the murders in a suicide note written before shooting himself during a routine traffic stop in Wisconsin the previous evening.
Hale's projected release date is December 6, 2037.
Barbarian at the gates: Revisiting the case of Matthew F. Hale to reaffirm that character and fitness evaluations appropriately preclude racists from the practice of law
Jan 01, 2002; BACKGROUND Matthew F. Hale is an outspoken racist. He makes no effort to hide this fact. To the contrary, he appears to be quite...
The case of Matthew F. Hale: Implications for First Amendment rights, social mores and the direction of bar examiners in an era of intolerance of hatred
Jul 01, 2000; INTRODUCTION Matthew F. Hale and the Illinois Committee on Character and Fitness have together reopened a debate that many...