Notorious Anti-Semitic Figure Dies

TAMPA – Charles Albert Eidson, who gained local notoriety as the pastor of an anti-Semitic church, died Monday of lung cancer and heart problems, his family said Friday.

Eidson, the son of an oil company worker and a full-blooded Cherokee, was 72.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer last fall and had been on life support since November, said his son, Keith.

Eidson was born in Georgia but grew up in Port Tampa. He graduated from Plant High School in 1952 and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Tampa. He had a successful career as a marketing executive for small oil companies, his son said.

But during the 1990s, Eidson’s life spiraled downward in a series of public controversies and scandals.

In 1991, he ran an unsuccessful populist campaign against incumbent Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman, promising to remove the parking meters and one-way streets downtown. He also said worship of Satan was a major problem locally. A civil lawsuit surfaced in which he claimed a witches’ coven had taken out a life insurance policy on him and intended to kill him.

Freedman won, but Eidson collected 1,678 votes.

In 1992, Eidson outraged the Jewish community by posting a sign outside his “Church of the Avenger” on Kennedy Boulevard condemning “damnable Jews” beneath a cross bearing the twin lightning bolts of Adolf Hitler’s dreaded SS.

A year later, a news account quoted him as saying, “Hitler couldn’t join this organization. He’s too nice. He wouldn’t meet the requirements.”

In 1995, Eidson was accused of posing as an attorney for a Sarasota man in an alimony and child support dispute. He referred to himself in court as a “constitutional counselor” and filed a “motion to squash” the case. He was convicted and had to serve 30 days in jail.

Accusing The Tampa Tribune and two other newspapers with mounting “an all-out attack on the mere existence of Christianity in America,” Eidson sued the newspapers and Tribune columnist Dan Ruth in 1997 for $10 billion. A judge dismissed the case.

It wasn’t long before Eidson was in more trouble with the law. A Tampa police officer saw him dump sludge into a storm sewer that emptied into Tampa Bay. Investigators found invoices showing that he was charging customers to store the sludge. He was sentenced to five years in prison for pollution and mail fraud. He was released in 2003.

Eidson is survived by his son and two daughters. The family struggles to reconcile the positive aspects of his early life with the hate-filled elements of his later one, Keith Eidson said.

Charles Eidson told a reporter in 1993 that drinking dogged his oil company career and family life.

“His life just changed,” Keith Eidson said Friday.

The family wouldn’t discuss funeral plans.

Reporter Michael Fechter contributed to this report.

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Tamba Bay Tribune, USA
Jan. 22, 2005
Lenny Savino

Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday January 23, 2005.
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