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March 20, 2006

Prat of the Year 2006, first nominees: George Sauter and the Babis

by Feòrag

United States: Over in the Bennett School District, Colorado, there is a school superintendent and a board member even more bigoted and mean-spirited than principal Guy Bowling.

Tresa Waggoner, Christian singer and music teacher, has been forced to resign from her job after she showed an extract from the opera Faust to pupils in a music class. Blissfully unaware that it is a Christian morality tale, some loony fundie parents complained, saying the opera promoted Satanism and abortion. Waggoner was put on paid leave. Even though a school board meeting voted overwhelmingly in her favour, superintendent George Sauter declared it would be 'disruptive' to allow Waggoner to teach again.

Mike Babi is a member of the school board and a parent at the school. Along with his wife Cori, he is suspected of having a vendetta against Waggoner after the school Christmas concert featured no religious songs, and the ongoing stushie has also forced the resignation of Mayor Karen Grossiant. She noted that her town, Bennett, has a mean-spirited undertone.

When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints built a meetinghouse in nearby Strasburg last year, there was a debate over whether Mormons were Christians, she said.

The issue with Tresa Waggoner wasn't the opera, but that she had run the holiday pageant without Christmas songs, said Grossiant.

Waggoner also connects the concert with a plot against her, and recalled being threatened by the Babis:

Cory Babi, the wife of school board member Mike Babi, called four days before the program and said there would be problems if there were no Christmas songs, said Waggoner.

I told her we couldn't sing them because public schools didn't want to offend people of other religions, including Jewish people, Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, she said.

After Waggoner showed less than 12 minutes of the Faust videotape, Cory Babi said her daughter asked about abortion and suicide. Babi declined comment Thursday.

The connection is transparent. They lied and said Faust is about abortion, said Waggoner. The only thing I can do is expose this as the injustice that it is.

Waggoner has said that she will pray for Sauter so he could live with himself for doing something so wrong and plans to seek work as music director for a church.

Faust is a mediæval tale of a magician who does a deal with Satan and gets into Deep Shit as a result—precisely the message you'd think fundie parents would want teaching to children.

Teacher seeks new job after 'Faust' flapRocky Mountain News, 10th March 2006.

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Posted in Superstition and Other Silliness at 20:14. Last modified on September 28 2006 at 23:43.
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1: Posted by: Red Wolf | March 21, 2006 3:54 AM

Let's see if this drags a similiar batch of illiterate morons out of the woodwork in defence of the indefensible as the Bowling post did.

2: Posted by: Valerie Meachum Kessler | March 23, 2006 8:34 PM

Red Wolf -- thankfully not, it seems. In following this thing all over the Web, I've only encountered only a small handful of comments in support of the complaining parents. (This includes the thread on the Free Republic, a very conservative forum, which you can find linked to from www.savetresa.org.) And quite a few more from Bennett residents and/or alumni (other than myself) who are, shall we say, less than pleased with Mrs. Babi and her disproportionate influence.

This is all deja vu for me -- Bennett was put in a similar let's-shake-our-heads-at-the-ignorant-hicks fishbowl when I was in high school there some 20 years ago, by a few boneheads saying nearly identical things on the news about a grant for our teachers to attend a global education seminar at the University of Denver. When the dust settled, about a third of the faculty had quit, the majority of the community that had tried to get accurate information was frustrated out of trying anymore, and the John Birch Society meddlers were happy as clams.

At least this time the coverage has made it clear that members of the community are standing up to the fringers -- Cory Babi may be the most high-profile voice, but for a change she's not the only one being heard. Not that it does any good until the school administration grows a backbone of its own, instead of taking the path of least resistance and hoping it all blows over. :-P

Blessed be from a Bennett graduate, pagan and opera singer. Hope lives everywhere.

Wax lyrical

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