Scientologists go after South Park creators
According to a former exec with the Church of Scientology, the often-mocked religion retained private investigators to dig up dirt on the men behind South Park, hoping to divulge dark secrets of the church’s most notable critics.
Marty Rathbun used to be a member of the Church of Scientology; today, however, he worships independently and isn’t exactly reserved about revealing the religion’s practices — especially the ones they wouldn’t want you to know. To the Village Voice this week, Rathbun leaked a series of documents he had obtained during his time with the church that describe the clandestine surveillance that was being conducted on the producers of the cartoon show South Park in hopes of retaliating against the television program for their incessant ridicule of the religion, the brainchild of science-fiction author L Ron Hubbard.
Rathbun reveals that, starting in 2006, the Office of Special Affairs of Corporate Scientology (or “OSA,” which he describes as the church’s “harassment and terror network”) began an investigation of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park. “Operations were run in an attempt to silence Parker and Stone,” writes Rathbun on his blog, but adds that, while “ultimately unsuccessful, left behind an instructive data trail during their efforts.”
"Phone records. Bank records. Personal letters that expose some kind of vulnerability," Rathbun tells the Voice. "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."
During their investigation, Rathburn says that the OSA attempted to find a direct line into the private lives of Stone and Parker by infiltrating personal relationships of the two. Whlie private investigators were hired to investigate the lives of the creators, according to some of his leaked documents, Scientologist Eric Sherman, who also worked as a film consultant, was installed as a mole and met with cult film icon Lloyd Kaufman of Troma Studios to obtain info on the duo. Once Sherman was able to identify pals of Parker and Stone, the OSA attempted to run a public records check on them in hopes of digging up more dirt. Rathbun writes on his blog, however, that attempts at airing the two’s dirty laundry most likely came up empty handed, as the intelligence out of the OSA is comparable to “Cold War era” techniques. Among their findings, which the documents now available seem to suggest are unsubstantial, are the cars believed to belong to the two creators and the names of a few Hollywood pals, including Full House alum John Stamos and his former wife, supermodel Rebecca Romijn.
The Church of Scientology has been peeved at Parker and Stone for years, particularly after South Park aired a scathing 2005 episode that not only attacked the religion itself, but several of its high-profile parishioners, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Rathbun defected from the religion in 2004 and has published attacks on church leader David Miscavige on his blog in the years since.