Anderson v. Hale and World Church of the Creator Historic Case

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

April 4, 2000

Case Description 

Anderson v. Hale and World Church of the Creator is a civil rights case in which Reverend Stephen Anderson sued the World Church of the Creator, charging them with advocating a “Racial Holy War” that incited a man’s murderous rampage.

On April 4, 2000, CCR filed a civil rights suit on behalf of Reverend Stephen Anderson in Chicago federal court against Matthew Hale, the leader of the World Church of the Creator, and the estate of Benjamin Smith, who shot Reverend Anderson three times. The suit, which was filed under the federal Ku Klux Klan Act and the Illinois Hate Crimes Act, charged that Hale conspired with Smith to violate the civil rights of Reverend Anderson on the basis of his race.

On July 3, 1999, Reverend Anderson, who is Black, was shot three times while he was standing in the driveway of his home in Decatur, Illinois. The man who shot him, Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, was a complete stranger who went on a three-day-shooting spree that left two people dead and nine people wounded. Smith was an active member of the World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist hate group based in Peoria, Illinois that was led by Matthew Hale, its so-called “Pontifex Maximus.” The church advocated a “Racial Holy War,” which it defined as a “total war against the Jews and the rest of the goddamned mud races of the world.” Each of Smith’s targets was Black, Asian American, or Jewish, and several were shot near their synagogue or church. Smith’s murderous rampage came to an end when he took his own life as the police were about to apprehend him. Following Smith’s shooting spree, Hale failed to express compassion for Smith’s victims or their families. Rather, Hale stated that he was happy with Smith’s zealotry for the church’s cause and applauded Smith for dying a “martyr for free speech for white people.”

Rather than risk a court determination, defendants elected to discuss an out-of-court settlement.