Trey Parker and Matt Stone probably could have guessed the Church of Scientology couldn't take a joke.
According to an alleged internal church document leaked to the Internet, the leaders of L. Ron Hubbard's religion ordered a private investigation to dig up dirt on the South Park Emmy winners in retaliation for mocking the church's beliefs in the infamous 2005 episode "Trapped in the Closet."
Here's the story.
Former church executive turned longtime critic Marty Rathbun—who after leaving the fold now considers himself an independent Scientologist—posted the memorandum on his blog Sunday, claiming it was authored by a "commanding officer" of Scientology's Office of Special Affairs (OSA), which Rathbun accuses of being a "harassment agency."
A spokesperson for Scientology says, "The Church at no time authorized any of the actions suggested in the statement." (Reps for Parker and Stone were unavailable for comment.)
The purported directive details the church's attempts to take covert action in the hopes of embarrassing the South Park duo, whose show not only satirized Scientology but also skewered its main celebrity adherent, Tom Cruise. (in a funny nod to the church's litigious reputation, the episode's end credits did not include the names of those who worked on the segment, instead referring to them as "John" and "Jane Doe.")
According to the alleged memo, OSA identified good friends of Parker and Stone, including Matthew Prager, a former writer for the pair's mid-2000's sitcom, That's My Bush!; actor John Stamos and his ex-wife, Rebecca Romijn; and fellow South Park collaborator David Goodman.
The document claims to have found some information on Stone through a PRC—the agency's acronym for an intense "public records check" to expose things like tax liens or scandals involving their private lives—but otherwise it states "it is clear that this investigation is not going anywhere."
Scientology's end goal, Rathbun asserts, "entails stifling criticism by an escalating gradient of techniques beginning with quiet investigation and moving up to infiltration, identification of and use of influential friends and contacts of [Parker and Stone], loud investigation, threats, attempts to harm [them] financially, intense propaganda to discredit, and ultimately, if all else fails, utter destruction of the [humorists] through overt harassment."
Parker and Stone hardly seem headed on the path of destruction—their Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon, just scored nine Tony awards this year.