James Nichols finds religion – with group labeled racist
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Sunday February 9, 2003
Jewish organizations find brother of Oklahoma City figure attending anti-black, anti-Semite Bible study’
The Flint Journal, Feb. 9, 2003
By Ron Fonger, JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Decker – The brother of Terry Nichols, one of the men convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing, has a new acquaintance – a pastor some say has advocated the lynching of Jews.
And farmer James Nichols said he’s not sure whether another Holocaust isn’t a good idea.
A story in the winter edition of the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report claims Nichols took a secret oath to the Christian Identity movement on behalf of himself and his brother during a two-day meeting outside tiny Essexville in October.
Months after the gathering that included pastor James Wickstrom and about 90 supporters in a furniture store, Nichols denies he took such an oath but said he wasn’t sure whether Jews should be exterminated.
“I don’t know. I’m there to learn,” said Nichols, who acknowledged he was at the “Feast of Tabernacles” and has been attending what he called Bible study meetings at the store.
Wickstrom’s movement claims God created a single race — the white race – in his own image, that Jews are descendants of Satan and that blacks and other nonwhite races are “mud people” on the same level as animals, according to the ADL.
“The Bible is racist itself. It’s not meant for everybody,” said Nichols, who said he’s known Wickstrom for more than a year.
Nichols’ involvement in the Identity movement and his relationship with Wickstrom raise new questions about the 49-year-old Decker farmer who has portrayed himself as “just an average everyday” person rather than a revolutionary.
Terry Nichols and bomber Timothy McVeigh were linked to militia, or Patriot, groups following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, but the tie was never proven.
McVeigh was executed June 11, 2001, for carrying out the bombing. Terry Nichols now is serving life in prison for conspiracy and the deaths of eight law enforcement officers in the bombing; he was accused of helping deliver a getaway car to bomber McVeigh and working with McVeigh to pack the bomb inside a Ryder truck.
Nichols still faces state charges – 160 counts of first-degree murder – in the bombing and faces the death penalty if convicted.
James Nichols claimed his brother was framed by federal officials and expressed conspiracy theories and distrust of the government since the bombing, similar to claims of militia members. He renounced his U.S. citizenship, returned his Social Security card and refused to carry a driver’s license, but until the SPLC story hadn’t been singled out as a member of a hate group.
“James Nichols, among many other people, always denied the Patriot movement was racist. This shows clearly the racist and anti-Semitic strain that always ran through the movement,” said Mark Potok, editor of the SCLC’s Intelligence Report and author of a report, “The Second Man: Terry Nichols and the Oklahoma City Bombing.”
Nichols contends the SPLC story doesn’t accurately portray what happened at the Feast, but the Montgomery, Ala., nonprofit organization is standing behind its story.
Nichols said he couldn’t even be sure he heard anti-Semitic remarks at the gathering.
“That was in October (and) I wasn’t there every minute of the day,” he said. “I don’t remember hearing that (but) I could have been taking a break outside.”
Nichols called the SPLC “liars and cowards.” He said he took part in a prayer, but the SPLC story was not correct in saying he dropped 66 cents into a basket, pledging himself and brother Terry to the movement.
“They didn’t get that part right,” he said.
Potok would not comment on how the organization collected its information about the meeting, but said the group stumbled into Nichols while it was attempting to keep up with about 90 white supremacists at the session.
“We had almost no interest in James Nichols at all. He just popped up,” Potok said.
He said Nichols took a “Soldier’s Ransom” oath in Essexville.
“The Soldier’s Ransom — it’s an oath to do battle … very much associated with Aryan Nations,” Potok said.
Potok said Nichols’ relationship with Wickstrom is troubling because Wickstrom is one of the most radical Identity pastors. His Web site offers links to music “with a pro-white agenda,” Aryan Nations and the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
Nichols, a 1972 graduate of Lapeer High School, denied he took an oath to “anybody or any group.
“I took an oath to be a Boy Scout a long time ago,” he said.
Jack Kay, professor of communications at Wayne State University, said Wickstrom – once a candidate for governor and U.S. Senate in Wisconsin – has a limited but national following.
“Wickstrom is quoted in a lot of the Ku Klux Klan and Identity Web sites,” Kay said. Some music groups associated with “white power groups use Wickstrom’s words” as lyrics, he added.
A 1998 Intelligence Report story quoted Wickstrom as telling followers a Y2K (or year 2000) computer crash was coming and to prepare to “fill our shoes with the blood of our enemies and walk in them.”
Wickstrom said he “lives for the day I can walk down the road and see heads on the fence posts,” according to the story.
The Journal could not reach Wickstrom for comment, but Mary Marquiss, who owns Marquiss Quality Furniture, where the Christian Identity meeting was held, said she would relay requests to speak with him.
Like Nichols, Marquiss said their Bible study group believes whites and blacks should not mix. She said Jews are “sons and daughters of Satan.”
“The Bible — if you read it — is a book of the white race,” Marquiss said. “What we believe is each bird to his own kind; each race to its own kind. You don’t racially mix. You don’t see a cat and a dog mixing.”
Nichols said Wickstrom is “just a pastor,” and he doesn’t believe in everything he hears during Bible meetings but isn’t inclined to walk out.
He said the Bible establishes that it is normal for whites and blacks to marry within their own race and said whites are often treated unfairly.
“The blacks can have their days and the Jews have a Jewish holiday, but … when do the white people have their holiday?” he asked.
Marquiss said Nichols isn’t a radical racist.
“Jim Nichols is not a threat to anyone. Neither was Terry Nichols,” Marquiss said. “He was framed.”
About James Nichols
Who he is: Decker farmer; brother of Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols.
What he’s done: Joined what he calls Bible study meetings with James Wickstrom, minister with the Identity Church movement, near Bay City. The Southern Poverty Law Center claims Nichols took a secret oath in October, pledging himself to the group with ties to the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations.
What Nichols says: SPLC distorted what happened during the October meeting, spreading a bunch of lies and bunch of crap.’ The group he attends is made up of just average everyday people … just there to study the Bible.’
About James Wickstrom
Who he is: A minister with links to Posse Comitatus, a movement that says the federal and state governments have been taken over by a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. The Anti-Defamation League describes him as an extreme hatemonger.’ It says Identity churches use Christianity to justify racism and anti-Semitism. Identity followers believe that white Anglo-Saxons — not Jews — are the real biblical Chosen People’; that Jews are descendants of a sexual union between Eve and Satan; that the white race is superior to others and that blacks and other nonwhite races are mud people’ on the same level as animals, and therefore have no souls.
What he’s done: Convicted in 1990 of conspiracy to pass counterfeit bills in an effort to fund a guerrilla army. Now meeting with supporters in a furniture store in Hampton Township, just outside Essexville, about 60 miles northwest of Flint.
What he says: Did not return calls to The Flint Journal.
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