Isaac Hayes’ Son Believes That Chef Didn’t Quit ‘South Park’ — Scientology Forced Him Out

The soul music superstar couldn’t have possibly submitted his infamous public resignation himself, according to Hayes’ family
Isaac Hayes’ Son Believes That Chef Didn’t Quit ‘South Park’ — Scientology Forced Him Out

Goodbye there, children.

At the beginning of South Park Season 10, Trey Parker and Matt Stone had the unenviable task of writing off one of the most beloved characters in the series after it was made clear that their star wouldn’t continue work on the show. On March 22, 2006, Comedy Central aired “The Return of Chef,” which was, arguably, the most not-so-subtle side-eye of an episode in South Park history at that point as Parker and Stone lambasted both the Church of Scientology and Isaac Hayes for forcing them to kill off Jerome Nigel McElroy, better known by his job title at South Park Elementary as the cafeteria’s Chef.

In “The Return of Chef,” South Park accused the Church of Scientology — er, sorry, the “Super Adventure Club” — of brainwashing Chef and turning him against the school (and the series) that loved him. Well, according to Hayes’ son, Isaac Hayes III, Scientology’s meddling in his dad’s South Park career went past brainwashing, as he believes that Chef’s departure from the show wasn’t even his own decision, and Scientology took advantage of the legendary musician and voice actor’s declining health to ghostwrite his infamous resignation. 

Honestly, we’d probably hate the real-life Super Adventure Club less if all they did was “make love to children.”

The circumstances of Hayes’ controversial departure from South Park were front-page entertainment news at the time of the unraveling of his relationship with Parker and Stone. A couple days after the airing of the 2005 South Park episode “Trapped in the Closet,” which mercilessly mocked Scientology figurehead Tom Cruise as well as the laughable dogma of the religious organization, Hayes, a full-fledged member of the church had an uncomfortable talk with Stone about the show’s targeting of his religious beliefs. Said Stone in a 2016 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, “It was pretty obvious from the conversation that somebody had sent him to ask us to pull the episode.”

“Isaac was the nicest guy, and we had a really great working relationship,” Stone said of Hayes’ presence during the production of South Park’s first nine seasons, and he even admitted that he and Parker deliberately left Chef and Hayes out of the making of “Trapped in the Closet” to try to avoid causing friction between Hayes and the rest of Scientology, hoping to give him “plausible deniability.” 

Unfortunately, the church couldn’t abide one of their prominent members working on a show that treated them with the same level of disrespect that South Park showed literally every other world religion, and, according to Hayes’ son, they began to put pressure on him to quit the show that had embraced him for almost a decade.

Three months after the airing of “Trapped in the Closet,” Hayes (supposedly) published a now-infamous public statement asking Parker and Stone to release him from his contract with South Park, which posited, “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.” With no choice but to let Hayes walk away, Stone and Parker immediately went on the offensive, and, nine days later, they aired their send-off to their Scientologist friend with “The Return of Chef.”

However, as Hayes’ son explained in the same discussion with The Hollywood Reporter, the timing of his dad’s public departure from South Park couldn’t have been more suspicious. “Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park; someone quit South Park for him,” the younger Hayes alleged. “What happened was that in January 2006 my dad had a stroke and lost the ability to speak. He really didn’t have that much comprehension, and he had to relearn to play the piano and a lot of different things. He was in no position to resign under his own knowledge.”

“At the time, everybody around my father was involved in Scientology — his assistants, the core group of people,” Hayes continued. “So someone quit South Park on Isaac Hayes’ behalf. We don’t know who.” 

Hayes then added, “My father was not that big of a hypocrite to be part of a show that would constantly poke fun at African-American people, Jewish people, gay people — and only quit when it comes to Scientology. He wouldn’t be that hypocritical.”

Even as his health declined, Hayes always had more of a backbone than a certain fudge packer.


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