Hayes issued a sharply worded statement Monday condemning "South Park" for its religious parodies, saying: "Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."
But creator Matt Stone told The New York Post Hayes' real reason for leaving the show after 10 years is because they finally got around to making fun of his religion, Scientology.
"This 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,'" Stone said. Hayes "never had a problem making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews," he added.
"He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show," Stone said. "To bring the civil rights struggle into this is just a non sequiter. Of course we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well."