Isaac Hayes leaves South Park

The soul singer Isaac Hayes has resigned from his role as Chef in the hit anti-establishment cartoon series South Park.

The soul singer Isaac Hayes has resigned from his role as Chef in the hit anti-establishment cartoon series South Park.

Hayes said it was in response to the US TV show's satirical attacks on religion, which he saw as part of a "growing insensitivity toward personal spiritual beliefs" in the media.

The show's co-creator, Matt Stone, said in a statement on the show's website that Hayes' resignation "has nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist and that we recently featured Scientology in an episode of South Park".

The cartoon has run for 10 years. It regularly pokes fun at religious groups and has included controversial story lines involving groups such as the Klu Klux Klan.

"In 10 years and over 150 episodes of South Park, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews," Mr Stone said.

"He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show. Of course we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well."

South Park focused on Scientology in November 2005 with an episode in which Scientologists believe one of the regular characters, a little boy called Stan, is actually the second coming of the founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard.

Hayes, who plays the school cafeteria cook whom the boys often seek out for advice and who often delivers soulful narrations on lovemaking, did not refer to the Scientology episode in a statement on his resignation.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs ... begins," Reuters reported Hayes as saying.

Fans of the show believed he had resigned because of the cartoon's assault on his own beliefs.

"I think its stupid that he quit just because the whole Scientology episode," said one fan on the show's website. "He should have expected they would make fun of his religion since they make fun of everything. I'm shocked he got mad at this and not all the KKK stuff."

Robert Booth and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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