The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Tummy Trouble: Oklahoma Bomber Demands End to Refined Foods — and $4.5 million

By Sonia Scherr on April 10, 2009 - 7:28 am, Posted in Extremist Crime

Terry Nichols is distressed about his sins against God.

And no, he’s not talking about his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, including 19 children. Rather, Nichols is referring to his diet at the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colo., where he’s serving a life sentence for conspiring with Timothy McVeigh to carry out the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

“The forced consumption of numerous refined foods daily is abhorrent to Mr. Nichols’ sincerely held religious beliefs, for it forces him to sin against God in that it (refined foods) destroys His holy temple (i.e. my body),” wrote Nichols, 54, in the handwritten lawsuit filed last month in U.S. District Court in Denver.

Among other culinary demands, Nichols wants 100% whole wheat breads, cereals and pastas, more raw vegetables (with peels intact), a variety of fresh fruits, no deep-fried foods, and brown or wild rice instead of white rice. Nichols, who’s asking for more than $4.5 million in damages, claims that the highly processed meals he’s served are adversely affecting his health — and he doesn’t shy away from the details. “Medically, Plaintiff can easily take in all those refined foods, but the problem lies in getting it out,” he explained in court documents.

Several other inmates concurred in affidavits filed with the court, including another antigovernment terrorist who’s imprisoned for life. “According to my sincerely held religious beliefs God has made us in his image and likeness,” wrote Eric Rudolph, who was responsible for four major bombings, including an explosion at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that killed a woman and a 1998 Birmingham, Ala., attack on an abortion clinic that left a moonlighting police officer dead. “Our bodies are, therefore, sacred and should be treated as such. This includes eating whole foods and avoiding pollutants such as refined over-processed foods.”

An affidavit from Nichols’s former wife, Lana Padilla, reveals that Nichols was devoted to a high-fiber diet long before he went to prison — though apparently not devoted enough to deter him from helping McVeigh construct a 4,800-pound fertilizer bomb. “Terry would often make his own 100% whole wheat bread, 4 loaves at a time, from scratch including grinding the wheat into flour,” wrote Padilla, who co-authored a 1995 book about the bombing called By Blood Betrayed.

Nichols also gets touchy about his reputation in the lawsuit, contending that the media, the courts and the federal prison system have stereotyped him as a terrorist. “Mr. Nichols is not a terrorist,” he huffed.

Most people would disagree. Though the warden at the Florence, Colo., Supermax did not respond to a request for comment on Nichols’ lawsuit, many readers reacted angrily at NewsOK.com, which has been covering the story. “Let’s see if I understand his religious logic,” reads one post. “It pisses god off to eat processed food, but not killing babies and innocent people?”

  • Dylan

    Personally, I believe that this man is using the idea of a “sacred temple” as justification for this lawsuit. If he was really that devoted to God, he wouldn’t have killed 200 people. FUrthermore, in all the religious texts I’ve seen, THOU SHALT NOT KILL came before THOU SHALT NOT EAT WHITE BREAD. Honestly…..

  • http://www.myspace.com/treycoley Trey

    Did I read this correctly? The people in this forum are hypocrites. If you read the bible it states we are all children of God. It is important to note that everyone is redeemable in the eyes of the Lord.

    So all prisoners should starve? Good Lord! You do realize some people are in prison for petty crimes? What a crazy mob in here.

    We pay taxes and feed people who sit around and do nothing (out of prison). The prison system can only justify itself under the premise of rehabilitation. It is society and the disparity it creates that causes the kind of desperation that leads to crime. It is the consumer driven system we live in today that drives people into the abyss.

  • William

    Hmm, so it is against God’s wishes to eat refined foods? Well, where does God say that a murderer has a right to sue for such a ridiculous amount of money? Wouldn’t God just want better food served? How is that justice to pay a terrorist any money at all? I don’t think God would approve, thereby making his lawsuit request hypocritical, no?

  • Diane Perry

    so eating white bread is a sin, but killing nearly 200 people isn’t?

  • Rose Stewart

    Prisoners should not have food. They should be allowed to just starve therefore saving the USA plenty of dough. What rights does a prisoner have to food? it is not in our Constituion adpoted in 1776..If i was the President i would begin not serving food of any kind to prisoners. and if you think some of these prisoners COULD be innocent then its just too damned bad.

  • dbc

    i agree with warren. a daily dose of all bran or even miralax will help his “temple” rid himself of the processed and refined foods he must eat.i also agree with sheila, had he not done the crime, he would be a free man to eat as he wishes. he forever lost his choices for life by choosing to murder innocents. as much as it already costs to feed, clothe and house this animal now it could cost us taxpayers another fortune to address this idiotic lawsuit. by the way, who is paying his lawyers? guess. some other lifer should become a hero and shank him. he would become a hero.

  • Warren

    I suggest that a teaspoon of a commercial fiber product in a glass of water with each meal would solve this jokers elimination problems in short order…and it wouldn’t cost $4.7 million!

  • lol @ Tim

    This piece of human waste is complaining about the prison food, and they’re taking this seriously? This is why avoidance of the death penalty fails – you end up catering to society’s lowest like Mr. McVeigh. The only diet he should have consumed was a delicious 10 cent bullet between the eyes.

  • Carter

    Some may be typing before the coffee kicks in…… People are imprisoned as punishment.

    Their ability to choose their diet, what delightful tobacco products, and sexual behavior the little darlings want, has been curbed because they are there as punishment. The surprising fact is that corrections is not designed to rehabilitate. Society has found that it cannot rehabilitate that which has not been habilitated prior to incarceration. The basic concept of rehabilitation is a paradigm that did not function; thus it is not at the core of the model anymore. The core is to keep this human garbage away from functional men & women, away from families & children….period.
    Hundreds of millions of dollars & many decades of experimentation have gone into this conclusion, which MANY of the IMPRISONED know to be the TRUTH!

  • Mel

    Perhaps this is the only way our government-subsidized meals will be taking into consideration by the media, and from there, the greater U.S. population.

    Public school lunches are similar in the processing and a low nutritional value they offer when compared to prison food. It has been proven that eating this food on a regular basis causes behavioral problems.

    Regardless of whether he has committed criminal activity, he has a right to eat healthy–perhaps prisons would even encounter less behavioral problems if prisoners were served more nutritional food. Some have said he has no right to demand certain foods because he is a criminal. So, would you also say that poor children in this country who get free and reduced lunches at public schools don’t deserve more nutritional government-subsidized meals either?

    It’s not a question of who wants to eat what and why. It is a question of the quality of food that the government supplies across the board.

  • Sheila

    What an imbecile. While I agree about the refined foods, perhaps he should realize that had he not participated in criminal activity, he’d be free to choose his diet.

  • Barry

    Just a question, if he’s locked up for the rest of his life, what does he need $4.5 million for?

  • Gregory

    If Mr. Nichols feels that these processed foods are so dangerous then maybe he and Mr. McVeigh should have simply operated roach coaches that catered to the workers at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, instead of bombing the shit out of it.

  • http://journalplagueyear.blogspot.com Dave von Ebers

    Kidding aside, this is one of the things that makes the United States a great country — that our institutions allow even the most despicable of humans to air their grievances in court. As crazy as it sounds, the essence of due process is giving it to everyone, even to people who seemingly don’t deserve it. Too bad that basic concept was lost on the Bush administration and its apologists.

  • bob cooper

    Why is THIS news? this guy should have been taking a dirt nap like 10 years ago. screw feeding him, feed him bread and water, thats what REAL prison food ought to be.

  • Jonathan

    It seems like a sensible request. Processed foods are not healthy.