A church's litany of hatred

MSNBC/July 6, 1999
By Dick Kay

Wilmette - Benjamin Smith's rage against minorities may be linked to his ties to an organization well known for preaching racial hatred and anti-Semitism.

Smith was a very active member of the 26-year-old World Church of the Creator, which preaches racial hatred and anti-Semitism. He and a woman named Christine Weiss, both graduates of New Trier High School, were arrested earlier this year in Wilmette for distributing racist handbills mentioning the church.

In 1997, 21-year-old Patrick Langballe was charged with defacing a Jewish temple and other buildings and recruiting North Shore teens into a neo-Nazi group. Four New Trier students who were juveniles were involved.

Patrick Langballe was charged with defacing a Jewish temple. Sources said Smith was a quiet, uninvolved student at New Trier. But two years after graduating, he was distributing racist leaflets and material from the World Church of the Creator at Indiana University.

In April, Smith and Weiss, who also lived at Smith's Indiana address, were arrested in Wilmette for distributing World Church material. The Anti-Defamation League was aware of Smith.

"We started tracking him because he was unapologetically and proudly proclaiming his allegiance and fidelity to the racially-charged theories and theology, if you will, of the World Church of the Creator," said Richard Hirschhaut, regional director of the ADL.

The World Church of the Creator is run by Matthew Hale of East Peoria. He was recently denied his law license because of his racist views. Smith testified on Hale's behalf at his license hearing.

"The Benjamin Smith I knew was a very thoughtful, polite, intelligent conscientious young man," Hale said. "He believed in his people. He was very selfless."

Hale said he does not endorse Smith's violent acts.

"It wasn't in accordance with our methods as a church," he said. "We wouldn't be around very long if we were endorsing this type of thing, and we don't. But we understand why he did it."

But the so-called church's Web site is filled with racist and anti-Semitic material, and calls for a racial holy war. Hale himself has insulted Jews, African-Americans, and Asians in his column.

Some of the postings on the group's message board talk about killing minorities, and refer to African-Americans as "mud people," as Smith did. One message says Smith was given an award from the group for being one of the most active members.

Other postings praised Smith's shooting spree. One message mentioned lone wolves who would commit violence against minorities rather than hand out literature.

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