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South Park's April Stewart Is Happy They Ran The Scientology Episode Despite Controversy

Since its 1997 debut, "South Park" has been stirring up the pop culture pot for decades now with its bold, brazen, and over-the-top approach to satire. While this aspect of the series and its quick production turnaround have meant that the franchise constantly generates fresh headlines, it has also made "South Park" a lightning rod for controversy.

Along with co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, April Stewart provides the voices for many of the central characters in "South Park." As such, she has been with the show throughout the years, as it has weathered many a storm with regard to its adult content and the real-world issues that it often contends with.

While "South Park" has released many controversial episodes over the years, few have created the kind of ire and outrage that Season 9 Episode 12 ("Trapped in the Closet") did when it first aired in 2005. The episode famously took on the firmly entrenched entertainment entity and religious organization known as the Church of Scientology and made some big Hollywood names angry as a result.

While she was nervous about it, Stewart is glad they did the episode

While at MCM Comic Con London in 2018, April Stewart fielded a variety of questions from the press about her time on "South Park." Naturally, it wasn't long before she was asked about some of the more controversial episodes of the series and how she felt about them as part of the show's ongoing legacy.

"There's one I think I'm a little, tiny bit nervous to still talk about and you know, it was the Scientology episode," Stewart explained. "You know, if you look at the credits on that one, we're all Jane and John Smith." Considering the Church of Scientology has a long history of retaliation and reprisal against any who speak out against them (via The Atlantic), Stewart's anxiety is definitely understandable here even so many years later.

"But I love that we did it," Stewart concluded. Fans may recall that "Trapped in the Closet" was so offensive to the Scientology community that former "South Park" star and Scientologist Isaac Hayes left the series because he took such offense at the episode (via The Guardian).

There were even rumors that Tom Cruise — the world's most famous Scientologist — threatened to stop doing press for Paramount's "Mission: Impossible III" unless Comedy Central pulled a re-run of the episode, as both Comedy Central and Paramount are owned by Viacom (via The Los Angeles Times). 

Despite this controversy that The LA Times dubbed "Closetgate," this episode easily remains among the most iconic in the series, which is probably why Stewart isn't hesitant to still show her support for it.