Idol Chatter

What’s that saying about getting out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat?

Looks like Isaac Hayes, the voice of Jerome “Chef” McElroy, doesn’t like what those “South Park” boys–Matt Stone and Trey Parker–have been cooking. E! Online reports that Hayes has asked to be let out of his contract due to the series’ “inappropriate ridicule of religious communities.”

Hayes, a Scientologist, did not specifically cite in his complaint the 2005 “Trapped in the Closet” episode, which goofed on Scientology with visits from Tom Cruise and John Travolta, but felt that “as a civil rights activist of the past 40 years” he could not support a show that made fun of people’s beliefs any longer. “There is a place in this world for satire,” Hayes said, “but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins.”

Co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker feel that the only intolerance on display is Hayes’s, and that he’s “cashed plenty of checks” mocking Christianity and other religions. Stone told the AP that the team “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.”

In fact, while South Park has been busy parodying many religions and sects, including Christianity, Mormonism, Islam, and Judaism, the show has also been subversively teaching audiences about these faiths.

“One of the most interesting episodes of South Park dealt with a Mormon family moving to town,” noted Mark Pinsky, author of “The Gospel According to Disney,” during a Beliefnet roundtable discussion on television and religion. “In less than half an hour, the show gave a history of the denomination that was both knowing and satiric. The conclusion was a knockout–the Mormon kid who was so badly treated lets fly. Yes, our Scriptures may seem wacky to you, he says, and maybe the Book of Mormon wasn’t discovered or written by Joseph Smith, but so what? My religion provides me with a stable loving family. Wow! And this from a potty-mouth cartoon!”

If Hayes was offended by the Scientology-skewering episode, he should just come out and say so. But to say that he’s taking a stand for all people of faith after almost nine years with the show seems a bit disingenuous, especially after telling the New York Daily News in January 2006 that Matt and Trey are “equal-opportunity offenders. Don’t be offended by it. If you take it too seriously, you have problems,” according to E! Online.

Still, it’s nice to know that there’s someone willing to stand up for the “followers” of illusionist David Blaine, “Blaintologists,” as featured in “South Park” episode “Super Best Friends.”

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