'Creativity' is a name for racism

Worcester Telegram & Gazette/July 18, 2002

By Mary Jo Hill

Sterling -- Matthew F. Hale is a 30-year-old violinist who looks like a Young Republican Club member in the photo he posted on the Web.

The clean-cut man wearing a white shirt and tie leads a church devoted to racism.

The Illinois-based World Church of the Creator is among the leading groups attracting young, violence-prone adults into the white supremacist movement, according to one hate expert.

The Rev. Hale and his congregation practice a religion called Creativity, which believes "the creator" is the white race and rejects the idea of gods, angels and devils, according to the group's Web site.

The church coined the phrase "Rahowa" -- a term supporters use as a battle cry for "Racial Holy War." People of color are called "mud races" by the church. And Rev. Hale's e-mails sign off with the slogan: "The Jew is through in 2002!"

Last month, people in several Central Massachusetts communities woke up on a Sunday morning to find evidence of the church on their front lawns after a mass distribution of fliers. The group has distributed literature in the past as well.

The blitz sparked a controversy involving the group's state leader, Tony J. Menear, a 26-year-old Sterling man who has served time in prison for armed robbery.

The Rev. Menear's parole was revoked after a newspaper reported the recent flier blitz. Rev. Hale claims the state Parole Board gave Rev. Menear an ultimatum to denounce the church or return to prison, and he chose prison.

The group is raising questions about the possible violation of Rev. Menear's constitutional right to freedom of religion. The state Parole Board has not commented on why his parole was revoked.

A preliminary hearing on the parole revocation is scheduled for today.

Robert S. Griffin of Peabody, a member of the church, said the flier blitz was conducted because he had about 2,000 leftover fliers with a July Fourth theme. Church members hit about 30 communities across the state on the night of June 29, he said.

Mr. Griffin, who was raised as a born-again Christian, now uses the same tactics to promote the World Church of the Creator that his parents' church used, he said. For instance, he leaves a small flier on a subway seat or a business card with a tip in a restaurant, he said.

A trial is putting the idea of Rahowa on display in U.S. District Court. Erica Chase, 22, and Leo V. Felton, 32, are on trial and charged with conspiracy to build a bomb to use to spark a racial holy war by targeting a Jewish or African-American landmark in Boston.

Court documents have shown that Ms. Chase was a close confidante of Rev. Hale when she lived in Indiana, said Devin J. Burghart, an expert on hate groups who works for the Center for New Community in Illinois. The center is a faith-based initiative designed to revitalize congregations and community for social, economic and political democracy.

And according to The Boston Globe, Ms. Chase's best friend testified at the trial Tuesday that Ms. Chase regularly wrote and recruited prison inmates for the World Church of the Creator.

Ms. Chase caught the eye of many men -- including Rev. Hale -- [Ms. M.] testified, according to The Boston Globe .

In an interview, Rev. Hale was more vague about his relationship with Ms. Chase.

"I think I've heard of her. I think I've heard the name," Rev. Hale said.

He said he guessed that Ms. Chase corresponded with him but he cannot say he wrote many letters in response, he said.

Rev. Hale has maintained that his group's racial holy war is nonviolent and compared the phrasing to the war on poverty.

The church has been around for 29 years, and the number of crimes the church's adherents have committed can be counted on one hand, which is pretty good, Rev. Hale said.

But, Mr. Burghart said, "I think that given who they're recruiting there is a high propensity of violence from the World Church of the Creator."

The church is among the leading white supremacist groups attracting young, violence-prone adults by positioning itself as revolutionary, violent and rebellious, Mr. Burghart said. The church's belief that Christianity is a Jewish hoax is considered quite rebellious, he said.

An e-mail forwarded to a reporter by Rev. Hale is called "The Making of a Revolutionary" and apparently was written by Rev. Menear about his decision not to renounce the religion and return to prison.

Chip Berlet, who is with a progressive think tank called Political Research Associates in Somerville, said the church is all about purifying the body and soul and becoming one with nature.

"It really is a religion. It's just a despicable one," Mr. Berlet said.

The National Alliance, which is a larger white supremacist group, and the World Church of the Creator have worked together using racist music to reach out to skinheads, Mr. Berlet said.

The church does attract a young crowd, but skinheads are in the minority, Rev. Hale said. The group's anti-Christian stance does draw youths, he said.

Mr. Griffin said he started out as a traditional skinhead without a view on politics and race. But after listening to other skinheads who were racist and their music, he began reading literature from different white supremacist groups, he said.

The World Church of the Creator was the only group he found that had its own books and doctrine, Mr. Griffin said. He has been with the church for about four years.

The church gives the essentials on how to look out for your own race rather than saying, "Let's just go recruit people, get them to donate money," Mr. Griffin said. The group talks about following nature's laws and looking out for your own family and race as opposed to someone else's race, he said.

"It's pretty clear that the basic theology here promotes the idea a real hero would stand up to protect the race by going out and eliminating Jews, blacks, other people of color ... and other enemies of the white race," Mr. Berlet said.

Along with the belief about Christianity, the group also sees Hitler as a prophet and follows the Rahowa doctrine, Mr. Burghart said.

Mr. Griffin said the church does not have enough people to start a racial holy war, although maybe it would like to think it will someday. He believes black people or other minorities will end up starting the war and whites will defend themselves, he said.

Rahowa does not mean "bullets will fly" but that the church wants independence for white people, Rev. Hale said. And the church does not believe Adolf Hitler is a prophet because the members do not believe in prophecies, but Hitler did tell the truth about the Jews and communists, Rev. Hale said.

William H. West Jr., a 28-year-old truck driver from Saugus who also is a member of the World Church of the Creator, said that violence is not needed to ensure white supremacy.

"We don't promote violence. Everybody has bad apples in their group," Mr. West said, commenting about violent incidents by people with ties to the church. A member of the Jewish Defense League has been charged in connection with conspiracy to build and detonate bombs, he said.

Irving D. Rubin, 56, of Monrovia, Calif., was indicted in January by a federal grand jury in connection with criminal conspiracies to build and detonate bombs at a mosque, a Muslim community group and a field office of a congressman, according to a statement from a U.S. attorney's office.

The Jewish Defense League asserted Mr. Rubin's innocence on the group's Web site.

Mr. West had been a member of the National Alliance for about a year before joining the church a few months ago, he said. While the National Alliance is a "pro-white organization," the World Church of the Creator offered a religion, he said.

"We look at it as our race being our religion," said Mr. West, who was raised Roman Catholic.

Creativity has five fundamental beliefs, Mr. West said. These are that the white race is the religion; the white race is nature's finest; racial loyalty is the greatest of all honors and racial treason the worst of all crimes; what is good for the white race is the highest virtue and what is bad is the ultimate sin; and Creativity is the only salvation for the white race, he said.

Mr. Burghart said the church has a few hundred members nationwide, with most members in their late teens to late 20s. The largest concentration of members is in the Midwest, with pockets in the Pacific Northwest and New England, he said.

Rev. Hale would not provide a specific tally of members but said there were thousands. And the northeastern United States probably is the strongest region now, he said.

Rev. Hale took over the group in 1996 after it had been in disarray. Ben Klassen, who founded the organization in 1973, committed suicide in 1993.

"What Matt's done is give it a new image," Mr. Burghart said.

Mr. Hale helped deflect the traditional image of a young white supremacist who is uneducated and often associated with the skinhead scene, Mr. Burghart said.

Rev. Hale is a college graduate and a classical violin player with a bookish appearance, Mr. Burghart said. And, he said, after being involved with the white supremacist movement for nearly two decades, Rev. Hale has become very media savvy.

The attention keeps Rev. Hale involved, Mr. Burghart said.

"Because without it, he would've been at best a fairly unsuccessful attorney graduating toward the bottom of his class who still lives in his dad's attic," Mr. Burghart said.

Rev. Hale said he graduated in the top half of his class and if it were not for his racist beliefs, he would have a law license and be a successful lawyer.

Schisms have been developing in the group because of Rev. Hale's authoritarian leadership and craving for publicity, Mr. Burghart said. But an attempt to stage a coup and grab leadership in the spring failed, he said.

"He still has kept it together. It's a fragile organization to say the least," Mr. Burghart said.

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