World Church members say leader’s fall won’t kill group

Peoria Journal Star, Jan. 9, 2003

EAST PEORIA – Three men claiming to be members of the World Church of the Creator say their leader’s arrest on Wednesday wouldn’t derail the white supremacist organization.

Instead, the men compared the situation to any other religion that might lose its leader.

“This church isn’t about <A HREF="javascript:zoek('Matt Hale')" "javascript:void(0);" onmouseover="return overlib('Click for archived news items on this subject’, CAPTION, ‘Link Info…’, HAUTO, VAUTO, SNAPX, ‘5’);” onmouseout=”return nd();”>Matt Hale. It’s not a cult of personality. It’s about the members all over the country,” said the Rev. John King of Newport News, Va. “If the pope dies, the Catholic Church doesn’t fall apart, does it?”

Hours after Hale, 31, of East Peoria was taken into custody in Chicago on charges that he tried to have a federal judge murdered, King and other members of the Church’s Internet community were firmly behind Hale.

Häns Glock. the man who claims to run the group’s Internet message board, said Hale went to Chicago with the intent of fighting a trademark infringement case that has stripped the group of its name.

“The Rev. Hale isn’t the type of person to do this. He was planning on fighting this with legal measures that he was going this with. He was prepared to give his defense. He is not a terrorist; he is fighting for our people, not against anyone else,” Glock said.

Someone who only identified himself as “Brother Rob” said violence is expressly forbidden by the church. In fact, King bemoaned the fact that every time the World Church is mentioned in the press, it’s always followed by the mention of the 1999 shooting spree of former member Benjamin Smith.

All three members said they had believed Hale would likely be arrested for defying U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow’s order to hand over church paraphernalia as a result of the trademark case, but none was prepared for what actually happened.

“If they knew this charge took place in December, why did they wait until now to arrest him? It seems like it was for maximum impact for the public,” Brother Rob said.

King called the charges “ludicrous and without merit,” dubbing the entire thing a “a political witch hunt.”

“It’s a government-concocted case. I guess the government has no recourse but to make phony charges against Matt Hale,” he said. “Besides, it makes no sense. The death of the judge wouldn’t end the trademark case.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday January 11, 2003.
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