BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Montana Human Rights Network is urging the leader of the whites-only World Church of the Creator not to relocate to Montana.
Matt Hale, 29, of Peoria, Ill., is considering settling in Montana or another state that will allow him to practice law. Hale passed the bar exam in Illinois, but an Illinois Supreme Court committee, evaluating "character and fitness," denied him permission to become a lawyer.
"There's a possibility I'll be moving to Montana," Hale said. "I'm looking at other states that have more of a First Amendment way of looking at things."
While Hale ponders his options, the Human Rights Network is circulating petitions against a move to Montana.
"He's the national leader in a hate movement," said Ken Toole of Helena, the network's program director. "They're the worst of the bad. This group is consistently associated with violent behavior."
Hale said his group has a lot of supporters and "the vast majority of them aren't committing any crimes at all."
Network officials should be taking the opposite approach, Hale said.
"If the Human Rights Network truly believes in human rights, they should recognize my right to practice my livelihood without being penalized for what I believe in," he said.