Across more than two decades on the air, South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone have tackled just about every satirical target under the sun. From politics to the economy to television itself, South Park has taken aim at a bunch of different topics. One of the show’s most popular targets is organized religion. Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism, Islam, Scientology – no one’s safe.
In fact, it was one of the show’s religious lampoons that led Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, to quit the show, because he’s a Scientologist and objected to the show mocking his beliefs. Some of South Park’s best episodes have been about religion.
10 Christian Rock Hard
When Cartman makes a bet with Kyle over who will be the first to record a platinum album, he rushes over to Butters and Token’s houses and recruits them to be in a Christian rock band that will pander to Christian audiences to make some easy money.
Cartman does actually manage to sell a platinum number of records, but is disheartened to discover that Christian artists are instead awarded myrrh albums.
9 A Boy And A Priest
16 seasons after lampooning the first wave of Catholic sexual abuse cases in “Red Hot Catholic Love,” South Park took aim at the second wave in season 22’s “A Boy and a Priest.” In the original episode, South Park’s residents worried about the safety of their kids, but this time around, they’re more interested in joking about it.
Feeling a kindred spirit in a fellow outsider, Butters strikes up a friendship with Father Maxi. In a stunningly violent finale, Maxi takes on the clean-up team sent across the country by the Catholic Church to cover up priests’ crimes.
8 The Return Of Chef
After Parker and Stone’s lambasting of the Church of Scientology in season 9’s “Trapped in the Closet,” Isaac Hayes quit South Park, so the season 10 premiere, “The Return of Chef,” had to deal with his departure – and they did it in the most hilariously bitter way possible.
The Church of Scientology has been accused of using brainwashing, and in “The Return of Chef,” Chef is brainwashed by a cult that travels the world, molesting children.
7 Fantastic Easter Special
In “Fantastic Easter Special,” Stan begins to question why Easter is celebrated with bunnies and eggs when it marks Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
The episode becomes a parody of The Da Vinci Code’s religious conspiracy theories as Stan is drawn into a widespread conspiracy involving the Vatican and a secret society called “the Hare Club for Men.”
6 Go God Go
Parker and Stone tackled the creationism-versus-evolution debate in the two-parter “Go God Go,” in which the Christian Ms. Garrison objects to teaching evolution in her class. She’s replaced by famed ethologist Richard Dawkins and later strikes up a romance with him.
When Cartman freezes himself to make the wait for the PSP go by quicker, he isn’t awoken until the distant future, where an atheistic society has been formed by Dawkins and Garrison’s teachings.
5 Super Best Friends
Unfortunately, season 5’s “Super Best Friends” can’t be found on any streaming service or home media release, because Comedy Central and HBO Max refuse to show an image of the prophet Muhammad (“Cartoon Wars,” “200,” and “201” are all banned for the same reason).
In the episode, Kyle is brainwashed into joining a cult and Stan recruits the deities from every major religion to team up and save him from their clutches.
4 Red Hot Catholic Love
The Catholic Church sex abuse scandal was one of the biggest events of the early 21st century. So, it was no surprise when South Park tackled the issue in the season 6 episode “Red Hot Catholic Love.”
South Park’s local priest, Father Maxi, travels to the Vatican to combat the rampant inappropriate behavior within the church, and finds that his bosses are more concerned with covering up the crimes than stopping them.
3 Trapped In The Closet
This is the episode that caused Isaac Hayes to quit the show. The Church of Scientology gives Stan a personality test in “Trapped in the Closet,” and he’s quickly deemed to be the second coming of L. Ron Hubbard.
The part that Scientologists particularly objected to was the cutaway explaining the backstory of the church with an on-screen disclaimer: “This is what Scientologists actually believe.” The church reportedly sent officials to sift through Parker and Stone’s trash to find dirt on them after the episode aired, but they found nothing scandalous or incriminating.
2 The Passion Of The Jew
Cartman is delighted by the global success of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ in the episode “The Passion of the Jew,” because he believes that the movie confirms all the anti-Semitic rhetoric he’s been spewing since the first season.
Kyle goes to see the movie and turns against his own religion, believing they should apologize for the crucifixion of Christ. Meanwhile, Cartman starts a Passion fan club that he gradually turns into a neo-Nazi movement.
1 All About Mormons
Ahead of their hit musical Book of Mormon, Trey Parker and Matt Stone tackled Mormonism in the South Park episode “All About Mormons.” A Mormon kid named Gary joins South Park Elementary and invites Stan over for dinner. The episode is split between Stan’s confusion over Gary’s family’s unfamiliar closeness and strong moral values, and a satirical retelling of how the church was founded.
The episode isn’t anti-Mormon – the Mormon characters all come off as delightful and caring – but it does question the validity of Joseph Smith’s claims (“Dum-dum-dum-dum-dum!”).
10 Shows That Deserve A Reunion Special
About The Author