Reverend Ron Morse: Challenger

After thoroughly looking into the Webster case, Sean and Liz believe Reverend Ron Morse to be the challenger to Rainbow Boys in August 2006. Though Sean and Liz could not reach him for comment or confirmation, he fits Webster librarian Olivia Durant’s email records of a challenger named Reverend Morse, as the only Webster-based Reverend with that name, a daughter who would have been of middle school age at the time of the challenge, and a public history of opposition to gay marriage based on a literal interpretation of biblical passages that disavow romantic relations between two men. At the time, he and his daughter were searching the Webster Public Library summer reading display to fulfill the District requirement to read and analyze two books on the list before school began. Though the books are labeled either “middle school” or “high school,” Morse and his 6th grade daughter ended up browsing the high school section where they found Rainbow Boys. Upset with what he saw, he called Assistant Superintendent Ellen Agostenelli to have the book removed.

Much of what Sean and Liz know about Reverend Morse’s involvement in the challenge and ensuing positions comes from Trish Warren’s interview, where she details the meeting between her, Reverend Morse, and district officials. However, our understanding of the context surrounding his position is bolstered by research into the church that he worked for, along with what appears to be his Facebook page. Morse worked for Victory Baptist Church in Rochester, a traditional and passionate group that strives to “be zealous in our efforts to advance the Kingdom of our Savior.” The site evokes fear that events in our daily life could be deeply sinful, pointing to “The literal existence of Satan, as an evil and powerful adversary, who acts as personal tempter and accuser.” Additionally, the site notes that Victory Church offers counseling services for “issues such as…homosexuality,” conveying a sense that an LGBT identity could be cause for concern. 

In 2004, the alleged challenger, Rev. Ron Morse, signed a affirmation declaring marriage to be between a man and a woman.

Furthermore, on what Sean and Liz presume to be Reverend Morse’s Facebook account, he claims “My only problem with Christianity today is Christians. The desire for the church today is to present Jesus as a hip, loving, best-friend-you-could-ever-have, guy who took a bullet for you.” Indeed, Morse’s past attempts to advocate for traditional values, along with his affiliation with the Victory Baptist Church, are in accordance with the strong likelihood that he also challenged Rainbow Boys, a book looking to carve out a place of acceptance and normalcy for gay teens. 


“Victory Church, Rochester NY.” Victory Church. N.p., 2018. Web. 08 May 2018.