Did Scientology Kill a Man?

lonsdale.jpgLos Angeles is known as the international headquarters of Scientology. But, when followers refer to the spiritual headquarters, they’re talking about Clearwater, Florida. That’s where 39-year-old Shawn Lonsdale has turned up dead, raising a lot of questions on both coasts.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Lonsdale’s crusade against Scientology made him a “public enemy” of the church.

For a few months in mid to late 2006, Lonsdale stood alone in downtown Clearwater beside a sandwich board that read “Cult Watch” in the heart of Scientology’s religious headquarters.

Videocamera in hand, he taped hours and hours of footage: Scientology buildings, church staffers walking the streets, security guards watching his movements and verbal confrontations with Scientologists. He then edited them into a “pseudo-documentary” about Scientology that eventually aired on local cable television.

Lonsdale first clashed with Scientologists over redevelopment issues at a city council meeting. So they began following Lonsdale. Everywhere.

They hired a private investigator to look into Lonsdale’s background and found two misdemeanor convictions for lewd and lascivious conduct, both related to public sex with men, in 1999 and 2000.

They called Lonsdale’s employer at a title company and his landlord and said that Lonsdale was a religious bigot, possibly dangerous.

Police found a garden hose stretched from the exhaust pipe of Lonsdale’s car into a window of his home. There were no signs of foul play, and there was an apparent suicide note.


Photo from the St. Petersburg Times

14 Replies to “Did Scientology Kill a Man?”

  1. Oh I love a good conspiracy and how you just run with scissors. This should be interesting to unfold, especially if we get anything official from local headquarters.

  2. I think the real issue here is:
    “two misdemeanor convictions for lewd and lascivious conduct, both related to public sex with men”
    Thats twice! He shouldve known better.

  3. I think its dangerous to assume that anytime a critic of the Church of Scientology kills themselves that it may be the work of the COS. Especially when there’s no evidence presented.

  4. Al,

    Given the recent media exposure after the Anonymous protests globally I thought it interesting to change the focus of these stories to something more banal opposed to the alleged machiavellian tactics employed by the CoS.

  5. dangerous to assume that anytime a critic of the Church of Scientology kills themselves that it may be the work of the COS

    Valid point. Of course, an investigation is underway.

    I am especially intrigued by the fact that the hose was attached to the exhaust pipe of the car and run through a window INTO THE HOME. That’s a strange choice. Why not sit in the car?

    Also, if this is indeed a suicide, is the church partly to blame for its tactics? They called his landlord and his employer. Isn’t that harassment?

  6. Jason: You should never, ever, ever, blame someone for causing another person to take their own life. This paves the way to excusing every crime and negative action known to mankind. For example, the Virgina Tech killer would like the public to believe certain individuals were to blame for the murders. Alcoholics could legitimately blame their drinking on any range of events or individuals.

  7. I find it interesting that the article doesn’t verify or at least offer a source of the statement that the church (or members) called his employer and landlord. According to who? The deceased? Does the church acknowledge such actions? The landlord? The boss? Seems like a little bit of lazy reporting going on there.

  8. I’m not blaming anyone for someone else committing the act. But, you cannot absolve others who may have led to the situation that triggered that decision.

    What about the MySpace suicide? Is the woman who posed as a friendly boy, only to turn on the girl who eventually committed suicide completely innocent? You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would say she is not partly to blame.

  9. With the MySpace suicide, I think numerous other factors were more to blame than her bitch of a neighbor. The girl was clearly using web based relationships as a crutch, and any number of similar incidents could have sent her over the edge.

    But right now, with this case, there has been no evididence presented that the supposed Scientology harrassment had any part in the suicide. Just reminds me of whenever there is an explosion or violence of any kind, many people first react by assuming Muslims are responsible.

  10. I believe Jason is asking a question and laying out his obvious hearsay. I think anyone can make a conspiracy, with enough hearsay linked facts appear on occassions. Will it happen here? Who knows.

    What I do know is Jason took a risk tossed out some information, shoulda coulda included links to some other sources to back up the St Pete news that referenced CoS hiring a private dick, turning up some L&L stuff and turning it over to the landlord and employer. Maybe he googled and found nothing?

    I don’t know, interesting fodder for discussion that could benefit from more sources to expand on the new article?

  11. Here are a few facts about the paper from which I pulled the article:

    The St. Petersburg Times has won the Pulitzer Prize six times.

    In 1997, TIME magazine recognized the Times as one of America’s best newspapers, calling it “most resourceful.”

    In 1999, the Columbia Journalism Review ranked the Times No. 9 on its list of the nation’s best newspapers for the 21st Century.

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