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Isaac Hayes Quits ‘South Park,’

March 13, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) _ Isaac Hayes has quit ``South Park,″ where he voices Chef, saying he can no longer stomach its take on religion.

Hayes, who has played the ladies’ man/school cook in the animated Comedy Central satire since 1997, said in a statement Monday that he feels a line has been crossed.

``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.

``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 responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, ``This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem _ and he’s cashed plenty of checks _ with our show making fun of Christians.″

Last November, ``South Park″ targeted the Church of Scientology and its celebrity followers, including actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, in a top-rated episode called ``Trapped in the Closet.″ In the episode, Stan, one of the show’s four mischievous fourth graders, is hailed as a reluctant savior by Scientology leaders, while a cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won’t come out.

Stone told The AP 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.″

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