Cooking up a storm: Isaac Hayes bows out as 'South Park' chef in spat over Scientology episode

Isaac Hayes, the soul singer who has played South Park's school chef since the series began nine years ago, has decided to call it quits, saying he can no longer put up with the show's "intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs".

That, in turn, has triggered an entertainingly acrimonious spat between Hayes and the show's creators, who have found the accusation little short of hilarious, given the fact that the show has been deeply irreverent towards organised religion from the start.

They believe the true cause of Hayes' annoyance is a notorious episode aired in the United States last November - and yanked from the air in Britain for legal reasons - which targeted Scientology and suggested, in characteristically unsubtle fashion, that the religion was a bogus pile of sci-fi claptrap designed to hoodwink people into forking over their money.

"In 10 years and over 150 episodes of South Park, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons or Jews," the South Park co-creator Matt Stone said in a statement. "He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show." Stone added, however: "Of course we will release Isaac from his contract, and we wish him well."

In his own statement, Hayes made no specific mention of Scientology or of the Scientology episode, in which one of the South Park fourth-graders is mistaken for the second coming of L Ron Hubbard, the religion's founder, and proceeds to be worshipped by the likes of Cruise, John Travolta and other celebrities until he unwittingly triggers a crisis of faith.

"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," Hayes said. "Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honoured. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices." Hayes likened the show's attitude to religion to the notorious Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed, saying the writers had shown "growing insensitivity".

Stone and his co-creator Trey Parker, both University of Colorado graduates who never quite shed their student sense of humour, are right to assert there is nothing new about disrespect for religion on their show. South Park grew out of two short films they made lampooning Christianity, including one in which Jesus and Santa Claus tussle in a martial-arts duel over the true meaning of Christmas.

Hayes, who sang the theme from Shaft and other soul classics of the 1970s, was originally hired on a one-off basis. But the character of Chef, a suave ladies' man with a weakness for talking lewdly about sex - in one episode he sings a song called "Salty Chocolate Balls" - proved so popular that he became a regular.

Among other activities, Hayes has become involved in a Scientology-related initiative to help impoverished inner-city schools. But in last November's episode, entitled "Trapped in the Closet", Parker and Stone depicted entertainment celebrities involved in the religion as gullible and psychologically unstable.

Their animated version of Tom Cruise - perhaps the most prominent Scientologist in the world -- travels to South Park to meet Stan, believing him to be the new Hubbard, then locks himself in a closet after Stan tells him he doesn't think much of him as an actor. The second half of the episode is replete with jokes that cannot be repeated here for the same reason that the show was pulled from BSkyB's schedule.

Britain's libel laws, tougher than those in the United States, have been used by Mr Cruise in the past to scare off would-be gossip-mongers.

Although Mr Cruise did not threaten legal action in this case, his reputation for litigiousness was enough for the broadcaster to exercise caution.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SEO Executive

£24 - 28k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical SEO Executive to join one ...

Research Analyst / Insight Analyst

£25k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Research Analyst / Insight Analyst to joi...

RTB/ Programmatic Campaign Manager

35,000 - 50,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Our client is the world's largest...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence