Matthew F. Hale

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Matthew F. Hale
EducationBradley University (B.A.); Southern Illinois University Carbondale (J.D.)[1]
Years active1983–2005
Known forWhite supremacy, federal soliciting to murder conviction
Home townEast Peoria, Illinois, United States
Parent(s)Russell Hale and Evelyn Hutcheson
Criminal statusIncarcerated at FCI Terre Haute prisoner number 15177-424
Conviction(s)Soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill Judge Joan Lefkow
Criminal penalty40-year prison term
TitlePontifex Maximus
Born (1971-07-27) July 27, 1971 (age 47)
Senior posting
Period in office1996–2005
SuccessorJames Logsdon[2][3]

Matthew F. "Matt" Hale (born July 27, 1971)[4] is an American white supremacist, neo-Nazi leader and a convicted felon.[5] Hale was the founder of the East Peoria, Illinois-based white separatist group then known as the World Church of the Creator (now called The Creativity Movement), and he declared himself its Pontifex Maximus (Latin for "highest priest") in continuation of the Church of the Creator organization founded by Ben Klassen in 1973.[6]

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.[7][8]

In 2005, Hale was sentenced to a 40-year federal prison term for encouraging an undercover FBI informant to kill federal judge Joan Lefkow.[6] His projected release date is December 6, 2037.[9]

Early life[edit]

Hale was born in 1971 and 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.[1]

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 1990, Hale was expelled from Bradley University, where he was studying political science.[4] In 1995, he dissolved the National Socialist White Americans Party (NSWAP) and instead formed the New Church of the Creator, a revival of Ben Klassen's religious group "Church of the Creator", 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.

Controversy over law license[edit]

Hale graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Law in May 1998 and passed the bar examination in July of that same year.[12]

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.[13] Attorney Glenn Greenwald represented Hale in a failed federal lawsuit to overturn the licensing decision.[7] 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.[14] The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision in an opinion filed on July 14, 2003.[14]

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.[15]

During a television interview in the summer of 1999,[full citation needed] Hale stated that his "church does not condone violent or illegal activities".[16]

Federal convictions[edit]

In 2000, a religious group in Oregon called the Church of the Creator sued Hale's organization, the World Church of the Creator, for trademark infringement.[10]

Hale filed a lawsuit against Judge Joan Lefkow, the United States district court judge presiding over the trademark infringement case who, after an appeal, had ruled against Hale's organization. Hale stated that the WCOTC was in a "state of war" with Lefkow, and denounced Lefkow in a news conference, claiming that she was biased against him because she was married to a Jewish man and had biracial grandchildren.[10]

On January 8, 2003, Hale was arrested, charged with soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill Lefkow.[17]

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. The murders and suicide were unrelated to Hale or Creativity.[18]

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 (considered a virtue in Creativity), including one in which he joked about Benjamin Smith's murderous shooting spree.[19]

In June 2016, Hale was transferred out of ADX Florence to medium-security federal prison FCI Terre Haute, Indiana, to serve the remainder of his sentence.[20]

Hale's projected release date is December 6, 2037.[9] If he is released at that time, he will be 66 years old.


  1. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  2. ^ "The Creativity Movement contacts". Archived from the original on 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  3. ^ Keller, Larry (Winter 2010). "Neo-Nazi Creativity Movement Is Back". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  4. ^ a b "Matt Hale – The Creativity Movement". Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Matt Hale's mother laments his racist rants". Peoria Journal-Star. 2014-01-14. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  6. ^ a b Wilgoren, Jodi (2003-01-09). "White Supremacist Is Held in Ordering Judge's Death". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  7. ^ a b "Matthew F. Hale v. Committee on Character and Fitness". Archived from the original on April 9, 2008. Retrieved 2015-03-12.
  8. ^ Pam Belluck (1999-02-10). "Racist Barred From Practicing Law; Free Speech Issues Raised". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  9. ^ a b BOP register number 15177-424 at "Find an inmate". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved 2016-09-03.
  10. ^ a b c "Matt Hale". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  11. ^ "Church of the Creator Timeline". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. September 15, 1999. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  12. ^ "Matthew F. Hale, Plaintiff, v.Committee on Character and Fitness for the State of Illinois (see "The Parties", paragraph 5)". Archived from the original on 9 April 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ 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).
  15. ^ Wilgoren, Jodi (March 2, 2005). Haunted by Threats, U.S. Judge Finds New Horror. The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Hale guilty: Profile: Supremacist offered mixed message through his group". Chicago Tribune (online ed.). April 27, 2004. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  17. ^ "Race extremist jailed in plot to kill judge". CNN. January 9, 2003. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  18. ^ (March 10, 2005) Police: Wisconsin death has Lefkow tie Chicago Tribune
  19. ^ "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.
  20. ^ Kravetz, Andy (14 June 2016). "Matt Hale moved out of supermax prison in Colorado and into Indiana federal prison". Retrieved 14 June 2016.

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]