Recently Read: Retired pastor saw ‘destiny’ in self-immolation

rev-charles-moore-327x388Our friend and former editor Sam Hodges has the story of the Rev. Charles Moore, a retired pastor that recently set himself on fire as an act of protest against social injustice:

In one note, hand dated June 16, 2014, Moore wrote: “This decision to sacrifice myself was not impulsive: I have struggled all my life (especially the last several years) with what it means to take Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s insistence that Christ calls a person to come and die seriously. He was not advocating self-immolation, but others have found this to be the necessary deed, as I have myself for some time now: it has been a long Gethsemane, and excruciating to keep my plans from my wife and other members of our family.”

In another note, Moore said his mental and physical health was good, that he was enjoying life and adored his wife, but that he also felt he was a “paralyzed soul,” unable to bring to fruition the social change he felt was urgent. He declared it his “destiny” to give his life for a cause.

via Retired pastor saw ‘destiny’ in self-immolation – The United Methodist Church.

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Recently Read

Recently Read

Recently Read posts are stories the editors of The United Methodist Reporter have found interesting from other sites and wanted to share with our readers. The editors do not necessarily endorse the opinions shared in these stories, and referral here should not imply endorsement of that content.

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8 Comments on "Recently Read: Retired pastor saw ‘destiny’ in self-immolation"

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
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Jimmie Reese

It would have been helpful for those who did not know Charles as I did to have attended his memorial service in Austin, Texas. The affirmations of his life were very moving. His witness and care for others was so vey self evident. Thanks for the memories Charles.

“This seems to me to be a considered decision of a man who cared very deeply about many important issues.” That’s why I reacted in horror to this story. Rather than being an act of madness as are many suicides, it seems as if this pastor usurped the Lord of Life and deliberately decided with rational mind to end his own life. That is a monstrous sin, an act of contempt for his Savior and Creator. With respect to the previous commentator, this situation doesn’t need much analysis– the deceased needs a lot of prayers and fast!
Mary Parker

My heart goes out to Rev. Moore’s family and friends. And I urge each of us to take seriously his own interpretation of what he planned and did, as his family decided to do when they released the contents of his message. This seems to me to be a considered decision of a man who cared very deeply about many important issues. It seems important to me to think of how we can react to this in love. It will take much prayerful thought and mediation. I appreciate the UMR reporting on this.


Very sad. While he may have been conditioned to believe some distorted things about social justice, it’s very likely he had organic mental illness largely independent of ideology. May God give him peace.


Hopefully in the time period between the evil act and his death he had the opportunity and presence of mind to repent. It looks like he was tormented by perceived injustice that he seemed powerless to reverse. It would be sadly ironic if his reaction to this injustice triggered the eternity in Hell richly deserved for those who engage in premeditated suicide.

I have known two people in my life who have killed themselves (ages 14 and 23) and another who tried to kill himself (age 13). As sad and angry as we all were towards these boys, many of us (though not all) felt overwhelming pity (that’s the closest word I can think of) towards them. Forgiveness came later, but it did come. The inner-turmoil that makes a person fear and reject life in favor of a physical death is a terrible, terrible burden that can make you lose sight of hope and the love of those around you- ask anyone… Read more »
Paul W.

How very sad — a true tragedy. UMNS should not have published this article.

Suicide is such a terrible tragedy. This suicide in particular is heartbreaking, showing the deep deception of the enemy and the heart that convinced him that this act was his “destiny” and would somehow advance his agenda. Truly heartbreaking,

UMNS should have NOT have published this article. UMR should NOT have linked to the article.

ron w
To not publish this would be the worst horror act . I had no privlidge of knowing this man but just reading the acount given as to why he would do such an act in such a quiet place gives me reason to wish him a salute of honnor . I think it speaks beyond all thought and reason of the state of – and not just this country, Goverments today . here we are with all this knowlge and ablity and ‘ We ” sit arround sipping our starbucks creation playing with our ” smart ” phone or what… Read more »
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