Minister sets himself on fire, dies to protest social injustices
TW: Graphic imagery
A retired United Methodist minister in Texas died last month after setting himself on fire to protest continuing injustices in LGBT equality and other social issues.
The Rev. Charles Moore, 79, reportedly doused himself in gasoline and set himself on fire in the parking lot of a strip mall. Bystanders extinguished the fire, and he later died at the hospital from the injuries. Moore had been a strong advocate for African-American civil rights and for the LGBT movement, and this wasn’t his first time doing something drastic.
A little more background on his history:
He left a letter on his car windshield explaining the reasons for his action, and his son-in-law, Bill Renfro, discovered other notes at Moore’s home in Allen, a Dallas suburb, detailing his discontents. Moore cited continuing discrimination against LGBT people, the ban on the performance of same-sex marriages by Methodist clergy, the continuing use of the death penalty, cuts in social programs for the poor, and other injustices he saw around him. He also felt he had not done enough to alleviate these problems, even though he had been a longtime activist against racism, sexism, and homophobia, and poverty. He once went on a 15-day hunger strike to protest his church’s treatment of gays, and he worked with the poor in India.
The date of his death was significant, noted Renfro, as it marked the 50th anniversary of the discovery of an abandoned car that had been used by three civil rights workers registering black voters in Mississippi. They were later found to have been murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Moore reportedly chose his manner of death in emulation of Buddhist monks who immolated themselves to protest the South Vietnamese government during the Vietnam War.
Despite feeling he hadn’t done enough to address social problems, Moore committed “many acts for justice during his life,” Renfro told Tyler, Texas’s Morning Telegraph, noting the hunger strike and the fact that Moore was kicked out of a church as a young minister for supporting racial integration.
“I wish I could have sat down and pointed out, ‘Charles, look at what your life has meant to the world,’” Renfro, also a retired Methodist minister, added to The Dallas Morning News. “‘Look at what it’s meant to individuals. You’ve changed their lives.’”
Horrific. My thoughts going out to his family, and to all the lives this man affected through his work and his spirit.