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Dallas Methodist Pastor Commits Suicide To Make Statement About Homophobia, Racism, Social Injustice

A retired Methodist pastor committed suicide in Dallas on June 23rd to make a statement about racial injustice, homophobia and the death penalty, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Rev-charles-moore-327x388-1Reverend Charles Moore left a number of notes that cited as reasons for his suicide the Methodist Church’s refusal to marry same-sex couples, the death penalty and cuts to social programs.

Moore died in a strip-mall parking lot in Grand Saline, Texas, by self-immolation.  One suicide note suggests that the 75-year-old chose Grand Saline because he was troubled by his hometown’s history of prejudice he witnessed there as a boy.

In one of the notes, he wrote:

“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 had a history of supporting equal rights. In the 1950s and 1960s he supported the civil rights movement. In 1995, he went on a hunger strike to protest the Methodist Church’s treatment of gays and lesbians.

However, although Moore had intended his act to be a grand gesture in the manner of Buddhist monks, his suicide drew little notice, notes The Dallas News:

“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.’”

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Comments

  1. Ironic that his desire to bring attention to these issues by doing one of the worst things he could possibly do doesn't even show up on this site until days after it happened.

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Jul 16, 2014 12:45:52 PM


  2. How very sad and angering. At lease we are hearing about it now. Thank you. He was a martyr.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jul 16, 2014 12:51:13 PM


  3. If only religious zealots like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Michelle "Crazy Eyes" Bachman, Tony Perkins, Brian Brown, Timothy Dolan, Mark Regnerus, et al had as much courage of their convictions. I'd listen at least.

    Posted by: Monkey See | Jul 16, 2014 12:52:07 PM


  4. He was a fine man with noble ideals, but he veered off into extremism. It's too extreme to take your life - suicide - as a way to try to change the world. You would have much better luck with staying alive and trying to change things slowly on a day to day basis. Any form of extremism is not the answer.

    Posted by: David From Canada | Jul 16, 2014 12:58:29 PM


  5. Sorry the gentleman felt he had to take this step. Not sorry the media didn't make him into a martyr. We don't need to encourage this behavior. Imagine the next event is a teenager protesting his parents' upcoming divorce. He feels he can't live coming from a broken home or seeing his siblings do so. He feels he can bring his parents back together and save his siblings from that fate by setting himself on fire in the backyard. Is he a martyr?

    Posted by: Christopher | Jul 16, 2014 12:59:50 PM


  6. Wow, I have no words. I'm literally stunned by his reasons for doing what he did. My deepest condolences to his friends and family.

    Posted by: MickyFlip | Jul 16, 2014 1:02:20 PM


  7. My god ! Self-immolation....I am horrified at the very thought of such pain.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jul 16, 2014 1:03:11 PM


  8. He was really fired up for equal rights.

    Posted by: crispy | Jul 16, 2014 1:06:50 PM


  9. He should have lived and tried to do something about his convictions. Now, he will be a shocking headline for a few days and then, sadly, 99% of the population will forget about him.

    Posted by: Jack M | Jul 16, 2014 1:09:28 PM


  10. He would've made a more effective statement if he burned down a church. Any church. Dallas is full of 'em!

    Posted by: Wavin' Dave | Jul 16, 2014 1:13:04 PM


  11. His heart was in the right place. His mind, not so much. And "Crispy," is it? You're about as funny as that Joan what's-her-name.

    Posted by: Sean Maloney | Jul 16, 2014 1:34:00 PM


  12. Everything they do is so dramatic and flamboyant. It just makes me want to set myself on fire.

    Posted by: JR | Jul 16, 2014 1:43:23 PM


  13. Sorry. There are a lot of things wrong in this world. But I doubt that injustices in the world brought this about. This was a mentally ill man and, thankfully, he did not hurt anyone else.

    Posted by: Joe | Jul 16, 2014 1:48:27 PM


  14. Agree with Joe. It's a shame he didn't have someone around him get him the mental health treatment he obviously needed. Doing something like this is totally antithetical to the enlightened and humanistic worldview someone with pro-civil and gay-rights views would presumably have espoused.

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Jul 16, 2014 1:57:48 PM


  15. And he went out singin', "Set my soul afire, Lord, set my soul afire."

    Posted by: 2008 Baptist Hymnal, #533 | Jul 16, 2014 1:59:36 PM


  16. well, it's certainly a different angle than the usual: "Child commits suicide due to the bigotry of their religious family."

    Rick Warren drove his own son to blow his brains out, and continues to promote anti-gay prejudice and bigotry.

    it's likely easier to dismiss this as "and old mentally-ill man" - it's much more emotional, and i dare say frightening, to consider that perhaps he was completely lucid, rational and sane at the time - and truly wanted to shock people with this action, and its intention.

    a shocking disturbing action to highlight other things that society is so numbed to that they no longer shock or disturb - even though they *should*.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 16, 2014 2:08:39 PM


  17. Pointing the finger at other religions, Deepak Chopra once angrily, provocatively and challengingly asked an interviewer "When was the last time you heard of a Buddhist terrorist?"

    I immediately thought of the Buddhist monks who perform self-immolation. I sympathize with many of the causes they wish to further, or protests they wish to make, but to me it is an act of violence and an act of terror.

    Whatever his motives, this was not a rational act. Moreover, given that the general policy is to subdue reports of suicide and suicide messages, ultimately it will likely have little effect and be most painful to those close to him.

    Posted by: edude | Jul 16, 2014 2:11:04 PM


  18. I don't think that these were the REAL reasons that he killed himself. He was probably deeply depressed and tormented, and had already planned to kill himself before he realized that it didn't have to be in vain, and that he could make a statement while doing so. These reasons probably made it easier to justify it to himself. Sad story. Poor guy.

    Posted by: Lucas | Jul 16, 2014 2:16:40 PM


  19. what's more irrational - a culture of prejudice and hatred and ignorance and the promotion of those things, or the act of suicide by someone who commits that "shocking and irrational" act to call attention to it?

    we'er a culture numbed to HATE. numbed to school shootings. numbed to homophobia and racism. numbed to rape culture and young girls being MOCKED by their abusers in social media. numbed to the deaths of the young by guns. numbed to the poor and working class being screwed over by the wealthy in their ivory towers.

    consider all those things - truly. the mentally ill are not just those who commit those atrocities, but those who hear them, and see them and don't batt an eyelash.

    i could be 100% wrong , maybe he was just a mentally ill old man. but think, for a moment, that maybe he wasn't. shock people into waking up.

    it's very The Ninth Configuration. (anyone? Ehrenstein?)

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jul 16, 2014 2:20:16 PM


  20. Moore was probably remembering the Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức, who set himself on fire in 1963 on a Saigon street to protest treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government, propped up by the U.S. His death had a huge impact, and was one of the first indications that America's entry into the morass of Vietnam would be a disaster. There is a famous photo of him aflame, of which John Kennedy said, "No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one."
    Such deaths can indeed be martyrdoms, if we pay attention.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%ADch_Qu%E1%BA%A3ng_%C4%90%E1%BB%A9c

    Posted by: David Groff | Jul 16, 2014 2:20:39 PM


  21. how typical that the local paper would ask if he was mad. Being committed to no more than what they can see in the mirror, Good Texas Christians apparently cannot imagine someone who believes in something besides self and celebrity. I'm sorry he felt he had to do such a thing. I hope his next plane is more satisfactory to such a giving being.

    Posted by: Sean | Jul 16, 2014 2:28:36 PM


  22. Obviously he had mental issues.

    Posted by: Perry | Jul 16, 2014 2:33:28 PM


  23. Lucas, self-immolation has been used as the preferred means of protest suicide for a long time. Most people that kill themselves because of deeply depressed and tormented feelings do so in the quickest and most painless fashion they can think of.
    As a gay man that has been a member of the Methodist Church I can see where he was coming from with his frustration. The Methodist Church claims to be a very socially aware and conscious denomination and many of their congregations are becoming just that, but they still have rampant bigotry in their leadership.
    As to how he chose to protest it, I am saddened. Instead of helping our cause he silenced another voice for the cause. His actions prove that he believed the cause was worth dying for but not worth living for. It isn't a cause worth winning until we live it with the mindset that it is a cause worth living for.
    I think the only thing that poor Rev. Moore proved was that the saying attributed to John Wesley, founder of the tradition that became modern Methodism, "Set yourself on fire with enthusiasm and people will come to watch you burn," is not very good advice.

    Posted by: RC | Jul 16, 2014 2:38:33 PM


  24. With friends like these..

    Posted by: Jay | Jul 16, 2014 3:14:18 PM


  25. CRISPY - if you immolate yourself your name might make sense, since you don't, except as a lame wit.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jul 16, 2014 3:44:55 PM


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