On March 11, 2005, my son, Thomas Andrew Crispin, committed suicide. Tommy was just 25 years old. He was married to a lovely witness woman and had two beautiful children. It was the saddest day of my life.
Tommy had been a Jehovah’s Witness since birth. Both his mother and myself are second-generation Jehovah’s Witnesses and Tommy was our only child.
We waited a long time for Tommy. After 14 years of trying, we had just about given up when he came along. We were ecstatically happy and while he was a very young baby we began to indoctrinate our son with the teachings of the Watchtower Society (1).
Tommy was a wonderful, obedient, child and both his mother and I were always very proud of him. We are still proud of him in spite of the circumstances.
Tommy gave his first talk in the theocratic ministry school when he was six years old. When he was eight years old he was preparing his own presentations for field service and was able to talk at the door independently, even using the Bible to look up and read scriptures to the householder. He gave a fine witness at school and always explained to his classmates, from the Bible, why he could not celebrate birthdays and holidays.
After graduating from high school (2) Tommy pioneered full time for a year and afterwards went straight to Bethel. He worked in the printing department and although it was difficult work, he never complained.
After he had served in Bethel for about two years, he met a lovely, spiritual minded, girl from one of the local congregations. They married soon (3) after and she was allowed to serve at Bethel with Tommy. They served together at Brooklyn headquarters until she became pregnant with their first child.
Married couples are allowed to stay in Bethel. However once the wife becomes pregnant then they both must leave (4). So Tommy left Bethel and came home with his pregnant wife.
Tommy and his wife lived with his mother and I so that they could save money to buy a house of their own. We were so happy and excited to have our only child and his lovely wife live in our home.
Eventually we were thrilled grandparents of two beautiful little girls and we could not have been happier. We all got along fine and we were ecstatic to have our grandchildren living with us.
Tommy and his wife continued to make fine spiritual progress. They both got part time jobs (5) so that they could spend time in the ministry while the children were in school (6).
The house that they were saving for was slow in coming, but we didn’t mind and from what we could tell, neither did Tommy and his wife. We were so happy to share what we had with our son and his family and they seemed happy and comfortable in our home.
Tommy was appointed Ministerial Servant in the congregation that he and his family went to. We were all very happy that the elders recognized Tommy as a spiritual man.
Although we lived in the same house, Tommy and his family chose to attend the Kingdome Hall in the next town. Tommy explained that he wanted his spiritual advancement to be his own. He was adamant about not having spiritual achievements seen as nepotism because his father was the Presiding Overseer. His mother and I understand that and we were proud that our son was so independent.
We knew many families where the father was an elder in a Kingdom Hall where his sons also attended. It was obvious to many of the congregants that the sons received congregation privileges they were not entitled to, simply because of their father (7).
Gradually, slowly, things began to change in Tommy’s attitude toward his family. My wife and I began to feel tension and coolness between Tommy and his wife. At meals there was no longer he light, long repartee that they had shared before. Tommy seemed tense, nervous and out of sorts. So did his wife. At the meetings he seemed to always be busy, ostensibly, taking care of congregation matters and stopped sitting with his family.
Tommy, who had always been a patient, loving father, began to yell at his two little girls for the smallest things. He was also short tempered with his wife, constantly finding fault with the way she did things. At first, his wife began to joke him out of bad moods, but to no avail. His children began to avoid him. His wife gave up on trying to change his moods.
When I attempted to talk to him about it, he would just say that he was tired or that it was a personal matter and everything would be all right.
But, everything was not all right. Things got progressively worse and one day, without even saying goodbye to either of us, his wife left with the children while Tommy was at work.
We were astonished that when we went to the basement (8) to tell them that lunch was ready, there was no one there. It was obvious that she had packed quickly. She didn’t even say goodbye or leave an explanation, just packed up the kids and some of their belongings and walked out the door, got in her car and drove away.
When Tommy came home that evening I expected him to be distraught that his wife and children had left, but instead he seemed relieved somehow.
His mother and I begged him to tell us what was wrong, but for the first time in his life, he waved us away in exasperation, told us to mind our own business, and walked out of the room.
The next day, we called his wife at her parent’s home and asked her what had happened between the two of them, as they had appeared to be so much in love. She spoke to us briefly and said that we should ask our son if we wanted to know what was wrong.
About a week or so afterward the phone call came. It was the presiding overseer in Tommy’s congregation. The brother explained that he had been trying for days to reach Tommy at his place of employment (9), and that he was making one last attempt. He asked that I please remind Tommy about the judicial committee meeting tomorrow night. I could not believe it. How could anything involving a judicial committee be of concern to our son? It simply could not be. My wife agreed. She insisted that I must have misheard and I agreed. We were wrong.
When we confronted Tommy with the message his Presiding Overseer left, he now had no choice but to tell us what was happening. With tears in his eyes he explained that while he was in Bethel and before he married his wife (10), he and his roommate engaged in a homosexual relationship.
This indiscretion had been weighing heavily on his conscience and he had admitted this to his wife so that there would be no secrets between them. His admission to her was the end of their marriage.
Tommy’s wife immediately reported her husband’s immoral indiscretion to the elders (11) in his congregation. That’s why the judicial committee meeting was called.
Our world fell apart. We had sympathy for his wife and her parents because we knew that their world had also fallen apart, but the thought did occur to me what kind of religion would urge one spouse to tattle on another. Surely the marital partners involved should handle a matter such as this one (11).
To shorten a rather long story, because Tommy was living with us when he made his confession to his wife, the Circuit Overseer advised me that in order to keep my position as Presiding Overseer, Tommy could no longer stay in our house (12).
The fact that Tommy had to leave our house in order for me to keep my position is nothing new in the Jehovah’s Witness congregations. It is done all the time (13). Whenever the child of an elder gets in trouble, he is sent away to live with the grandmother, grandfather, sister, brother or anyone else who can take him so that he is out of the house. It happens every day. I never thought it would happen to me. I am ashamed that I was not strong enough to stand up for my son and refuse to send him away (14).
Tommy was of course, asked to step down as a Ministerial Servant. Weeks later the announcement that he was disfellowshipped was given from the platform.
The Presiding Overseer in Tommy’s congregation agreed with the Circuit Overseer that Tommy was now considered unclean and since he was an adult, he could no longer be living in our house.
Much to the dismay of both his mother and I, we had asked our son to leave the house until he was accepted back into Jehovah’s organization. He left without argument, after apologizing for bringing shame upon our family. We let him know that we still loved him, but in accordance with the rules of the organization (15) our relationship had changed.
We later heard (16) that Tommy had found a small trailer to rent (17) out about 10 miles from our house.
After his death (16), we became aware of some of what Tommy had been going through in his congregation at the time he was disfellowshipped. We learned that at his judicial meeting Tommy had expressed great remorse. He explained that he was definitely not a homosexual and that the one-time sexual act was something that just happened. He could not explain why it happened, but that he had approached Jehovah in prayer and felt that he was forgiven. He begged the elders not to disfellowship him. This was absolutely the first time he had done anything wrong and asked them to please consider his exemplary record (18).
The elders were in my opinion, harsh. In spite of Tommy’s pleas for leniency, they told him that in accordance with scripture he would have to be punished and that just a reprove was not harsh enough (18).
Tommy was disfellowshipped. My golden son, my pride and joy was no longer one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. My heart broke. An announcement was made in our congregation and Tommy’s congregation.
For the first time in Tommy’s life, he was stunned. He was an outcast. He was marked for death in Jehovah’s eyes (19). It devastated him.
Tommy immediately began to work his way back into Jehovah’s organization. He showed up faithfully at every meeting. He took his seat in the back row of the congregation and he made it a point not to make eye contact with the other witnesses, so as not to contaminate them.
After about a year (20), he submitted an application for reinstatement to the Presiding Overseer. His application was rejected. It was felt that because of his gross son of immorality, he had not been punished long enough. When Tommy asked how long would be long enough, the Presiding Overseer answered that this would be determined in the future.
May I interject at this point that Tommy’s Presiding Overseer and myself had a longstanding personal dislike of each other (21). We were civil to each other when we happened to meet, but the definitely was no love lost between us.
I wholeheartedly believe this elder got some sort of satisfaction from exhibiting his power over my son. I believe that he felt the harsher he punished Tommy, the better he was getting back at me.
I know that we are taught to believe that Holy Spirit appoints elders. But it’s men like this that sometimes makes me wonder if that is really true (22).
After being denied reinstatement, Tommy began to miss meetings. Then he stopped going to the meetings altogether. When his Presiding Overseer stopped by to inquire (23) why he was missing meetings, he refused to answer the door, calling out to him to go away.
Tommy who had been so strong in the truth, could not take the fact that the people he had known and loved all of his life could no longer talk to him.
People whom he had considered close friends would cross the street when they saw him coming their way so that they did not have to face him (24). It was as if he were now dead to them.
He took it for as long as he could and then he just could not take it anymore. In his mind he had failed Jehovah, his parents, his wife and children, and all the brothers and sisters he had grown up with. He felt that Jehovah had turned his back on him and that he would never be reinstated back into the organization. He gave up.
One year and seven months after he was disfellowshipped (25), the man who Tommy rented the trailer from found him hanging from an old iron light fixture in the living room. His landlord had gone to collect the rent that was long overdue. The police said that he had been dead for a few days when he was found. Tommy left a note. A suicide note.
My personal analysis of this sad story:
1 – Indoctrinating with the teachings of the Watchtower Society, in contrast with teachings of the Bible!
2 – Graduating from High School. That’s it. No higher Education as per direction of the Watchtower Society, of which the consequences show up later when after years, they still cannot afford a house.
3 - Married Soon, as no premarital sex forces young adults and teenagers into premature marriages. They fingerpoint at the Catholic Church with its Celebacy, however here they force young healthy men into a same lifestyle.
4- Had to leave Bethel. Empty handed of course. Nothing to support them in their lives from this point on, despite
two years of volunteer work at a multi-billion dollar organization.
5- Working part-time jobs as high-school graduates only does not leave much room to save up for a house.
6- Here we read that the kids were both already going to school, while when they arrived at his dad’s house, the first yet had to be born. Aligns with the previous remark and shows the impact of pressure not to follow higher education and to pioneer.
7- This comment on nepotism shows that appointments have nothing to do with Holy Spirit. See also comment number 22.
8- They lived in the Furnished Basement of the house, which in my opinion can be viewed as a separate house and even rented out as such. No need to kick a disfellowshipped son out of the house.
9- Here we see the PO harassing him at his place of employment. Rude, unmannered and contrary to any etiquette. See also comment 23.
10- This one off sexual event happened before they were married. Should it really bother you to such a degree what your spouse did before you met?
11- Here we see a spouse tattling to the elders. This is really terrible. What kind of religion encourages this. Surely only a Pharisee one.
12- Here we really see what the purpose of a Circuit Overseer is. To make sure the many burdensome unloving rules of the WTBTS are followed to the letter, even if it means contrary to any natural affection and human decency to throw your own children out of your house.
13- It’s done all the time. Imagine how many Children have been harmed this way by this destructive cult.
14 – Again, too many people hid behind the excuse “I was just following orders”. Reminds me of the Nurnberg trails. I would gladly give up any position – anything for the benefit of my children. That would make me more of a true Christian than many spirit appointed elders. Interesting that the family they are sent to most likely is the non-witness side, who now is good enough.
15- The rules of the organization indeed. Nothing to do with God!
16- We later heard. This implies that during the one year and seven months (19 months!) that his son was disfellowshipped they had ZERO contact, despite living 10 miles away. I have no words for this. And all along as PO teaching love from the platform.
17- Renting a small trailer was all he could afford on his own. Sad, sad, sad!
18- In accordance with which scriptures is a repentant person to be harshly disfellowshipped? A real court would take all his statements into account, however a kangaroo court does not! This is why in Biblical times the courts were public, so as to prevent such unjustice!
19- This has nothing to do with in Jehovah’s eyes. Tommy felt that Jehovah had forgiven him. No, this was in the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees of the Watchtower organization. In the eyes of the same elders who likely secretly watch porn and are turned on by the confessions of teenage girls who have to share all intimate details at a JC.
20- After a year!?!?! How many elders kids are reinstated far sooner.
21- The quarrel of these two PO’s cost Tommy his life. They stand and teach love from the platform, but do not practice it themselves. Do not let the sun go down before making up with your brother. If you are at the altar and remember having an issue with a brother, go first and make it right – and then offer your sacrifice. This is what I learned from the Bible.
22- No appointments are not made by holy spirit. See also comment number 7.
23- See also comment 9. Unannounced at your door. No respect! This PO does have blood on his hands for sure though!
24- People crossing the street not to be confronted. Again people “just following orders”!
25- One year and seven months later he is found, dead after a few days, only because his rent was overdue. How long would it otherwise have taken. And of course as a disfellowshipped person, no funeral in the KH, despite all the years of service he gave.
Sadly, reading the story of Tommy, I understand that suicide was the only way out.
To all Lurkers I would say to read Revelation 18:4 and decide for themselves if this does not apply to the WTBTS. Personally I do not want to be any part of this destructive religion and do not want to share in her plagues, for her bloodguilt is huge.
R.I.P. Tommy Crispin