Skip to main content

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

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?”

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to HWeditor@splcenter.org and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.