03/14/2006 AT 8:00 AM ET
Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons and Scientologists have been raked over the comic coals of Comedy Central’s South Park, and Isaac Hayes, who voices the character Chef, says he won’t stand for it anymore.
“There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins,” the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said in a statement.
“Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored,” he continued. “As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.”
South Park co-creator Matt Stone has a different take. “This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology,” he told the Associated Press. “He has no problem – and he’s cashed plenty of checks – with our show making fun of Christians.”
A top-rated episode in November targeted the Church of Scientology and such celebrity followers as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Titled “Trapped in the Closet,” the segment featured fourth-grader Stan being hailed as a reluctant savior by Scientology leaders, while a cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and refuses to come out.
Stone said that he and co-creator Trey Parker “never heard a peep out of Isaac in any way until we did Scientology. He wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin.”
Stone and Parker have accepted Hayes’s resignation, according to news reports.