Texas United Methodist Minister Burns Himself to Death to Protest Homophobia
A retired United Methodist minister from Texas burned himself to death last month to protest discrimination, sexism, racism and homophobia, Dallas News reports.
Rev. Charles Moore, 79, doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire in the parking lot of a strip mall in his hometown of Grand Saline, located about 70-miles east of Dallas. The newspaper reports Moore screamed and tried to stand as he was engulfed in flames and witnesses tried to put out the fire with shirts, bottles of water and a fire extinguisher.
He was flown unconscious to a Dallas hospital but died from burn injuries.
In one of several suicide notes left behind, Moore explained his act was inspired by the selfless gestures by Buddhist monks, who burned themselves to death to protest the South Vietnamese government during the Vietnam War. He also underlined a passage from the New Yorker about Tibetan monks who set themselves on fire to protest China's rule.
"I would much prefer to go on living and enjoy my beloved wife and grandchildren and others, but I have come to believe that only my self-immolation will get the attention of anybody and perhaps inspire some to higher service," Moore wrote.
In another note, he cited his own church's refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry and discrimination against the LGBT community. He also took issue with the use of the death penalty in American and growing economic inequality and a number of other issues.
He considered setting himself on fire at Southern Methodist University, where he earned a degree at Perkins School of Theology, and hoped the incident would gain national headlines and his message of social justice would spread.
Though he hoped his final act of justice would gain national attention, Dallas News reports that the incident "drew little notice."
"A report in the Grand Saline Sun described him as an elderly man who seemed troubled. An article in the Tyler Morning Telegraph asked if he was a 'madman or a martyr,'" the newspaper writes.
Moore's last act wasn't his first. In 1995, he went on a 15-day hunger strike, opposing his church's teaching on gay people.
Moore leaves behind his wife, children, grandchildren and other family members. His son-in-law, Bill Renfro, told the Dallas News he wished he could have told Moore he could have still done more to change the world.
"I wish I could have sat down and pointed out, 'Charles, look at what your life has meant to the world. Look at what it's meant to individuals. You've changed their lives,'" he said.