We all know Lizzie Borden was very active in the Central Congregational Church of Fall River. When she was suspected, accused, charged, incarcerated, and stood Trial for the murders of her father and stepmother, the Church stood by her. But it wasn’t long before they “cut” her as explained in Parallel Lives. Only a few of its members remained her friends, most all abandoned her after her acquittal.
In 1905 “History Annals and Sketches of the Central Congregational Church, Fall River, Mass” written and compiled by Mrs. William Carr, Mrs. Eli Thurston, and Mrs. Charles J. Holmes was published. Mrs. Holmes had been especially supportive of Lizzie during the scandal and Trial. She was, in fact, like a surrogate mother bellowing her belief in Lizzie’s innocence. The Church stood behind her until it was all over. These women were all so prominent in Lizzie’s parallel church life and their society in general which makes my “harumphing” at the book’s signature quote even more contrary.
Recall that the book was published in 1905. uh huh, uh huh. And yet we find on the page opposite of “The Fort Mill (Hill?) Press” this:
“There is so much Good in the
Worst of us,
And so much Bad in the
Best of us,
That it hardly behooves
Any of us
To ‘criticise’ the
Rest of us.”
The fact these ladies would choose that refrain as an almost banner statement of the Church’s Christianity and goodwill is beyond irony. When one considers how Lizzie was “cut” it instead renders itself a shout-out of the ugliest kind of hypocrisy.
I cannot help but wonder if Lizzie purchased the book and read it. Coming upon that page – and after the initial stinging pain passed, I wonder if she “harumphed” herself….and then maybe continued to stroke her dog as it rested comfortably – and lovingly – on her lap. Her loyal, non-judgmental dog.
BTW, the book is worth having if you’re interested in Fall River’s history – but you won’t find a word of or about Lizzie Borden or “that awful time”. Uh uh. As has been said, “it” just wasn’t talked about – in public anyway. And certainly not in any books dealing with the benevolent churches.