Asshole. Prick. Handsome. I've been called all three.
But Karin Pouw, a spokesthetan for the Church of Scientology, dropped a u-bomb on me in a Feb. 20 email.
She called me "unprofessional." Sniffle.
Between Feb. 13 and 18, I called the church's media-relations outfit in Los Angeles
three times, telling them I was working on a story about the church
and allegations it spies on critics. (We evil journalists keep things kinda vague until it's time for the gotcha questions, when the hilarity ensues.)
After getting forwarded by a live person to voice mail, I left messages each time. The only return telephone call I received was from a nice lady who left a voice mail message on my office line, telling me to email my questions to the address firstname.lastname@example.org
This was on a Thursday, but I had already left the office for the day to bail editor Gustavo Arellano out of jail. And, I wasn't in the office on Friday--pretending to work in the field, blah, blah, bah.
When I returned to the Weekly world headquarters Monday, I listened to the message and fired off an email (including a semi-sincere "Sorry we couldn't make contact when I called last week").
I asked what the church's response is to those who say it sends out spies on its critics; to Amy Scobee's allegations of abuse; to the allegation that the church charges "freeloader" fees on those who leave. I also asked if the organization in Los Angeles sets up a Scientologist's program, charges the person for "handling" if he or she doubts the group's teachings. And I welcomed any comments the church wanted to make about Scientology, but I did not guarantee I could fit them all into the story.
Here is the email I received from Pouw:
Dear Mr. Dulaney:
I have received your questions. You were originally asked to send them on the 16th, yet you waited four days before doing so just a few hours before your self-imposed deadline on a holiday. I find it unprofessional and it is insufficient time for the Church to provide you a suitable response to outrageous and general allegations that are neither time-sensitive nor newsworthy.
Amy Scobee hasn't been a member of the Church of Scientology for seven years, and so your "interview" does not contain any information relevant to the Church today. I will provide you a response as rapidly as possible, but you will need to inform your editor you emailed questions at noon and asked for a response by 5 p.m., and it is insufficient.
I will, however, start by providing you an answer to your last question. Yes, there is a lot to be said about Scientology. It is the story of the explosive worldwide growth of the Church of Scientology.