Isaac Hayes Quits South Park
03/14/2006 AT 08:00 AM EST
"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.