Extremism in America: Creativity Movement

  • December 1, 2001

 

The Creativity Movement was one of the most notorious hate groups in the 1990s, gaining publicity for its rapid growth and the violent incidents with which it was associated. Originally founded by Ben Klassen in 1973 as Church of the Creator, the organization fell into disarray in the mid-1990s following the criminal convictions of several of its members, the suicide of Klassen in 1993 and a successful lawsuit brought by the family of a Gulf War veteran murdered in 1991 by a COTC member. In 1996, COTC was reborn as WCOTC with the emergence of the young law school graduate Matt Hale as its leader. Hale's publicity skills, his unsuccessful battle to obtain his law license in Illinois, and a two-state shooting spree by follower Benjamin Smith in July 1999 that left two dead and nine wounded, all kept the WCOTC in the headlines in recent years. In November 2002, the WCOTC lost a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against it by the Te-Ta-Ma Truth Foundation, which had successfully trademarked the name "Church of the Creator" years ago. A federal judge ordered the WCOTC to stop using its name, to give up its Web addresses, and to turn over all printed material bearing its name. Hale refused to comply with the order and in January 2003 had arrived for a contempt of court hearing when he was arrested for soliciting the judge's murder. He remains in jail awaiting trial as members of the WCOTC and other white supremacist groups rally behind him. Currently, Thomas Kroenke, appointed "Hasta Primus" or "Spearhead" of the WCOTC before Hale's arrest, is running some of the group's operations in Wyoming.

Read the full report: Extremism in America: The Creativity Movement (PDF).

More from this Section