Remember that amazing Scientology-themed episode of South Park six years ago? Well, apparently it ruffled a few feathers down in crazy town.
The Church of Scientology is one of the most baffling and inexplicable “religions” in contemporary society. Over the years it has been revealed as strange, weird, creepy and cultish by disgruntled ex-members. “The New Yorker” dedicated over 20 pages of an issue to Academy Award winning director and screenwriter Paul Haggis’s experiences with the religion. Scientology’s origins are so bizarre that it seems like a work of fiction — and believed by many outsiders to be just that. Somehow this creation of L. Ron Hubbord’s impressive imagination has managed to grow into one of the most powerful organizations in the United States, drawing donations from many of Hollywood’s elite A-list actors.
Hubbard’s creation is also nearly impossible to explain without laughing, which is why the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, did the most memorable job summarizing the religion. Back in 2005 the comedy duo wrote a hilarious episode called “Trapped in the Closet,” which satirized Scientology. The episode mocked the church’s beliefs and high ranking celebrity members including Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Cruise was angered by the episode, so much so that he threatened to back out of “Mission Impossible III” if it were ever re-aired on Comedy Central (Viacom owns both Paramount Pictures and Comedy Central).
Since its original airing over six years ago, “Trapped in the Closet” has been considered one of the most memorable South Park episodes is the show’s acclaimed history and TV Guide named in the 17th on their list of “TV’s Top 100 Episodes of All Time.”
Needless to say the episode’s embarrassing nature drew the ire of Scientology leaders. Yesterday, Mark Rathbun, a former powerful executive member of the church, revealed documentation that church actually performed a formal investigation on the South Park creators. According to The Village Voice, the inquiry included identifying their close friends and family, searching their public records and even searching through their trash in an effort to find dirt on their private lives.
Several friends to the South Park duo are then identified: writer Matthew Prager (That’s My Bush), actor John Stamos, actress Rebecca Romijn, and writer David Goodman.
“These connections are being PRC’d,” reads the document, and Rathbun explains that the acronym stands for “public records check.” Scientology’s standard procedure would be to put its private eyes on a complete check of these people and their property, legal, and other public records. If they owed taxes, or had been in messy divorces, or had been arrested, Scientology would soon know about it.
“There are some strings that will be pulled on the PRC on Stone,” the document reads, suggesting that investigators had already found something about Matt Stone in public records that would make him vulnerable.
“Otherwise the special collections will be debugged in order to get some viable strings that can be pulled,” the document then reads, and Rathbun explains that “special collections” is Scientology’s code for trash digging.
I asked Rathbun what kind of things OSA’s operatives would be looking for in the trash of Parker and Stone and their friends.
“Phone records. Bank records. Personal letters that expose some kind of vulnerability. They’ll read stuff into the kind of alcohol you’re drinking and how much. Prescriptions. They’ll figure out your diet. They can find out a lot about you through your trash,” he told me this morning by phone from his home in South Texas.
Scientology’s reach, power and disturbingly calculated aim on vengeance is tad scary. However I’d be willing to bet Stone and Parker rather enjoy the idea of Scientology henchmen rooting through their nasty garbage. These are the same guys who once wore dresses and dropped acid before attending the Academy Awards — they’re pretty used to pissing people off.