Matthew F. Hale

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For other people named Matthew Hale, see Matthew Hale (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 38°21′23″N 105°05′41″W / 38.35630°N 105.09482°W / 38.35630; -105.09482

Matthew F. Hale
Religion Creativity
Nationality American
Born (1971-07-27) July 27, 1971 (age 45)
Senior posting
Title Pontifex Maximus
Period in office 1996-2005
Successor James Logsdon[1][2]
Matthew F. Hale
Education Bradley University (B.A.); Southern Illinois University Carbondale (J.D.)[3]
Years active 1983–2005
Known for White supremacy, federal soliciting to murder conviction
Home town East Peoria, Illinois, United States
Parent(s) Russell Hale and Evelyn Hutcheson

Matthew "Matt" F. Hale (born July 27, 1971) is a white supremacist leader and convicted felon.[4] Hale was the founder of the East Peoria, Illinois-based neo-Nazi group formerly known as the World Church of the Creator (now called the Creativity Movement). In 1996, Hale declared himself the third Pontifex Maximus (Latin for "highest priest") of the Creativity religion.[5]

In 1998, Hale was barred from practicing law in Illinois by the state panel that evaluates the character and fitness of prospective lawyers. The panel stated that Hale's incitement of racial hatred, for the ultimate purpose of depriving selected groups of their legal rights, was blatantly immoral and rendered him unfit to be a lawyer.[6][7]

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.[5] He is currently incarcerated at FCI Terre Haute[8] with the inmate number 15177-424. His projected release date is in 2037.[9]

Early life[edit]

Hale was raised in East Peoria, Illinois, a city on the Illinois River. By the age of 12, he was reading books about National Socialism, such as Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, and had formed a group at his school.[3]

In August 1989, Hale entered Bradley University, studying political science. At the age of 19, 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 racist pamphlets to patrons at a shopping mall and was fined for littering. In May 1991, Hale and his brother allegedly threatened three African-Americans with a gun. Hale was arrested for mob action, and because he refused to tell police where his brother was, he was also charged with felony obstruction of justice. Hale 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 30 months of probation and six months of house arrest.[10]

In 1993, Hale graduated from Bradley University and received a degree in political science[how?]. Three years later, he founded the New Church of the Creator, a revival of Ben Klassen's religious group, which believes that the white race are the creators of all worthwhile civilization. The church believes that a "racial holy war" is necessary to attain a "white world" without Jews and non-whites. To this end, it encourages its members to "populate the lands of this earth with white people exclusively."[11]

After Hale appointed himself "Pontifex Maximus", he changed the name of the organization to the World Church of the Creator. The name was again changed to the Creativity Movement when a religious group in Oregon called the Church of the Creator sued Hale's organization for trademark infringement.

Controversy over law license[edit]

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.[12] Attorney Glenn Greenwald represented Hale in a failed federal lawsuit to overturn the licensing decision.[6] The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois concluded it did not have jurisdiction to review an earlier decision of the Illinois Supreme Court upholding the license denial.[13] The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision in an opinion filed on July 14, 2003.[13]

Two days after Hale was denied a license to practice law, a World Church of the Creator member and college student, 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 on July 2, 1999, Smith shot nine Orthodox Jews while they were walking to and from their synagogues in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood. He also killed two people, including former Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong, in Evanston, Illinois, and a 26-year-old Korean graduate student, Won-Joon Yoon, who 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.[14]

According to Hale, America should only be occupied by whites.[15] During a television interview in the summer of 1999, Hale stated that his church does not condone violent or illegal activities.

Federal convictions[edit]

Matthew F. Hale
Criminal penalty 40-year prison term
Criminal status Incarcerated at FCI Terre Haute prisoner number 15177-424
Conviction(s) Soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill Judge Joan Lefkow

In late 2002, Hale filed a class action lawsuit against Judge Joan Lefkow, the United States district court judge presiding over his trademark case. Again in late 2002 and prior to his arrest, Hale denounced Lefkow in a news conference, claiming that she was biased against him because she was married to a Jewish man and had grandchildren who were biracial.

On January 8, 2003, Hale was arrested, charged with soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill Lefkow.[16]

On February 28, 2005, Lefkow's mother and husband were murdered at her home on Chicago's North Side. Chicagoan 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. The murders and suicide were unrelated to Hale or Creativity.[17]

On April 6, 2005, Hale was sentenced to a 40-year prison term for attempting to solicit Lefkow's murder. During the trial, jurors heard more than a dozen tapes of Hale using racial slurs, including one in which he joked about Benjamin Smith's murderous shooting spree.[18]

In June 2016, Hale was transferred out of ADX Florence to a medium security federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana where he will serve the remainder of his sentence.[19]

Hale's projected release date is December 6, 2037.[20] If he is released at that time, he will be 66 years old.


  1. ^ "The Creativity Movement contacts". Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  2. ^ Keller, Larry (Winter 2010). "Neo-Nazi Creativity Movement Is Back". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  3. ^ a b "Matt Hale and The Creativity Movement (formerly the World Church of the Creator)". Extremism in America. New York City: Anti-Defamation League. 2005-04-06. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  4. ^ "Matt Hale's mother laments his racist rants". Peoria Journal-Star. 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  5. ^ a b Jodi Wilgoren (2003-01-09). "White Supremacist Is Held in Ordering Judge's Death". NY Times. Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  6. ^ a b Matthew F. Hale v. Committee on Character and Fitness at the Wayback Machine (archived April 9, 2008)
  7. ^ Pam Belluck (1999-02-10). "Racist Barred From Practicing Law; Free Speech Issues Raised". NY Times. Retrieved 2015-09-18. 
  8. ^ Andy Kravetzof (14 June 2016). "Matt Hale moved out of supermax prison in Colorado and into Indiana federal prison". Journal Star. Retrieved 14 June 2016. 
  9. ^ "Locate a Federal Inmate: Matthew F. Hale". Federal Bureau of Prisons. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  10. ^ "Matt Hale". 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2015-09-17. 
  11. ^ "A History | Southern Poverty Law Center". Retrieved 2012-10-17. 
  12. ^ "Committee Files With Illinois Supreme Court Objection to Matthew F. Hale's Application for Law License" (Press release). Illinois Supreme Court. 1999-10-29. Retrieved 2010-09-08. 
  13. ^ a b Matthew F. Hale v. Committee on Character and Fitness for the State of Illinois, 353 F.3d 678 (Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 2003).
  14. ^ Wilgoren, Jodi (March 2, 2005). Haunted by Threats, U.S. Judge Finds New Horror. The New York Times.
  15. ^ Chicago Tribune
  16. ^ "Race extremist jailed in plot to kill judge". CNN. January 9, 2003. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  17. ^ (March 10, 2005) Police: Wisconsin death has Lefkow tie Chicago Tribune
  18. ^ "Matthew Hale gets maximum 40-year sentence". Southern Poverty Law Center. April 7, 2005. Archived from the original on February 14, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-17. 
  19. ^ Andy Kravetzof (14 June 2016). "Matt Hale moved out of supermax prison in Colorado and into Indiana federal prison". Journal Star. Retrieved 14 June 2016. 
  20. ^ "Federal Bureau of Prisons". Retrieved 2012-10-17. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Swain, Carol M.; Russ Nieli (2003-03-24). Contemporary Voices of White Nationalism in America. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-81673-4. 

External links[edit]

  • Free Matt Hale. Information about the trial and appeals of Matt Hale, including his mailing address in prison.
  • In Klassen We Trust. More than sixty hours of speeches and interviews of Matt Hale.