“I have always felt that death for a cause was my destiny,” Rev. Charles Moore’s (pictured) suicide note read, “but never so much as during the past several years — when it has admittedly been a preoccupation.”
Last month, the 79-year-old retired United Methodist minister doused himself with gasoline and set himself ablaze in the parking lot of a Dollar General store in Grand Saline, TX. Horrified onlookers rushed to put out the fire, but their efforts to save Moore were unsuccessful. Charred and unconscious, he was flown to a Dallas hospital where he later died.
“I have never seen anything like this in my entire career in law enforcement, which includes my years as an arson investigator for the Mesquite Fire Department,” police chief Larry Compton told the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
Moore was protesting against discrimination against gay people and other social injustices in the world. He left behind a number of suicide notes. In one of them, he cited his church’s refusal to marry same-sex couples as just one of issues he hoped to bring attention to with his death.
Some believe Moore hoped his final act would be perceived as a grand but selfless gesture similar to those of the Buddhist monks who have done the same before him.
“Reverend Moore thought this was going to be a whole lot bigger of a deal than it turned out to be,” Rev. Jeff Hood, a colleague of Moore’s, told HuffPost. “He expected it to make national news.”
Moore’s stepdaughter, Kathy Renfro, said that he “failed to realize… the emotional turmoil that he would leave behind.”
Her husband Bill added: “He did this selfless act, this sacrifice for others, but he also did not think thoroughly through the consequences of the act.”
“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.
This Friday would have marked Moore’s 80th birthday.