A Texan retired United Methodist minister has made the ultimate sacrifice to protest discrimination against LGBTI people and other injustices in the world, burning himself to death in a car park in his home town of Grand Saline.
The Rev. Charles Moore, 79, doused himself with gasoline and set himself alight in the car park of a shopping mall, emulating Buddhist monks who burned themselves to death to protest the South Vietnamese government during the Vietnam War and Tibetan monks who did the same more recently to protest China’s rule over their country.
Shocked onlookers rushed to put out the fire with bottled water but the burns were too bad and Moore was flown unconscious to a Dallas hospital where he later died.
Moore left a number of suicide notes and cited his own church’s continued refusal to marry same-sex couples, discrimination against LGBTI people, the use of the death penalty in America and growing economic inequality and cuts to social programs as issues that he wished to highlight with his death.
‘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 one of the notes.
There has been a growing movement within the clergy of the US United Methodist Church of dissenters who want to be allowed to marry same-sex couples, with a number officiating at same-sex weddings in violation of the church’s official position.
This act was not the first act of self-sacrifice that Rev. Moore had taken in support of LGBTI rights.
In 1995 he went on a 15 day hunger strike to oppose his church’s teaching on gays and lesbians.
Moore leaves behind a wife, children and grandchildren and a career of working to support life’s most downtrodden people, having spent years working in slums in India and in developing nations in Africa and the Middle East.
Son-in-law Bill Renfro told the Dallas Morning News that he wished that he could have told Moore that he could have still done more to transform the world with his life than with his death.
‘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.”’ Renfro said.