Handmaid's Tale: evangelical utopia?

Ate there are Christian extremists who watch The Handmaid’s Tale and think, “Damn right! Praise Jesus!”? Has anyone expressed the idea that it portrays things as they should be?


Can’t give more details than that, though, because I have a strong tendency to leave the room/internet forum when that sort of preference is expressed.

So far, those voting “yes” in my experience have all been men. Gee, wonder why that is.

It’s not so much “evangelical utopia” as “male supremacist utopia”. I mean, really, the Taliban are sort of the Muslim version of that.

No, Baptists are persecuted. All kinds of other Christian sects are persecuted.

In fact, at one point, Offred prays, “I don’t believe for an instant that what’s going on out there is what You meant… I suppose I should say I forgive whoever did this, and whatever they’re doing now. I’ll try, but it isn’t easy.”

From Wikipedia:

Christian churches that do not support the actions of the Sons of Jacob are systematically demolished, and the people living in Gilead are never seen attending church. Christian denominations, including Quakers, Baptists and Catholics, are specifically named as enemies of the Sons of Jacob. Nuns who refuse conversion are considered “Unwomen” and banished to the Colonies, owing to their reluctance to marry and refusal (or inability) to bear children. Priests unwilling to convert are executed and hanged from the Wall. Atwood pits Quaker Christians against the regime by having them help the oppressed.

The leaders in The Handmaid’s Tale are nominally Christian.

As I said - it’s not so much they’re Christian as Male Supremacist.

I’m going to guess there is at least some people that think Gilad is a wonderful place.

I think most uber conservative Christians might draw the line at finger chopping or public hangings. But that’s not to say there aren’t a lot of things they like about Gilead.

Just my guess.

Based off a long while of interacting with them, I think some Christian fundamentalists might think that “Gilead is going in the right direction, but takes a bad detour.”

They might be onboard with maybe 60% of the overall concept. But they’d think the red dresses and white bonnets are silly (they preferred things like calico, denim, blouses, dresses, etc.). No way would Baptists ever be allowed to be squelched and pushed to the bottom of the societal pole. Most fundies I know didn’t like big beards on men, in fact that sort of look was typically discouraged and clean-shaven was the expectation. And no way would they be onboard with the ritual rape of handmaids while in the lap of the Wives, that’s just adultery. I doubt any would practice flogging of women; they were highly disdainful of men who lifted hands against women. And most fundies do like technology and would want the amenities of modern society. And even then, in many fundamentalist ranks, there is a great deal of “under-the-surface feminism” that was subtle but very much present and noticeable. It took the form of jokes like “the husband may be the head of the wife, but the wife is the neck, and turns it any direction she pleases,” or a not-so-subtle fandom of powerful Disney women. They were big on the chivalry veneer too; men having to pull out chairs for women or let ladies exit the elevator first, etc.

The utopia for evangelical fundies might be something like Mennonites, but with the intensity kicked up 2-3x.

Saying that evangelicals want Gilead is like saying that liberals want Orwell’s 1984. A very few might, but it’s a big stretch.


It should be understood that Atwood was writing an allegorical tale in a world where fertility had dropped precipitously, and the “handmaidens” were a solution that allowed the powerful patriarchy of a fundamentalist leadership to reproduce their ranks even though most of their wives were infertile; in such a case, a religious rationalization was used to justify “adultery” in terms of societal good of utilizing fertile women as baby factories for the powerful elite. Atwood was not trying to make some real prediction about how fundamentalist religious belief would overtake the United States, although in retrospect she hit a lot closer to the mark than anyone should be comfortable with.

As for actual religious fundamentalists, they come in many flavors of belief and practice but quite a few of them certainly don’t seem to have much of a problem in engaging in any number of behaviors cautioned or prohibited against in the Christian Bible, nor shame in any part of such transgressions except for getting caught. And I’ve certainly known many fundamentalists who, while they might not promote some of the specific stylistic developments in the novel (and I assume the show, which I have not seen), would be perfectly happy if the United States became a repressive theocracy forcing their religious beliefs and practices on everyone else and punishing people who disagree with them.


Right. What I like to say is that many evangelicals want a “soft” theocracy. They may not even be aware of it, but that’s what they want. When they complain that evolution is being taught instead of young-earth creationism, that abortion is legal, gay marriage is recognized, and that all of this goes against God’s will, they’re essentially bemoaning the lack of a soft theocracy.

Soft as opposed to hard, which is an explicitly religious regime (Taliban, ISIS, etc.)

Now, whether that stuff goes against God’s will or not is another debate. But the point being that they want a society that is forced to abide by their notion of God’s will, which is a soft theocracy.

I could see some evangelicals being on board with a heavily-watered-down version of Gilead. But not Gilead itself as portrayed in THT.

From what I’ve seen of Handmaid’s Tale, it reminds me of Christian Reconstructionism with its enthusiasm for the death penalty based on Old Testament law. This approach was supported by the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States, but fortunately the number of congregations of that particular splinter denomination has dwindled greatly. R J Rushdoony is credited as the founder of Christian Reconstructionism movement.

Never a huge movement, it did find favor in my local community, which is quite heavy with a very fundamentalist version of Calvinism.

Under their system, the list of civil crimes which carried a death sentence would include murder, homosexuality, adultery, incest, lying about one’s virginity, bestiality, idolatry, apostacy, witchcraft, blasphemy, false prophecy, rape, and other crimes. But to be fair, these were the maximum penalties, lesser punishments were allowed.

But basically anything in the Bible that called for the death penalty was also to be eligible for death penalty in their vision of a Christian US.

I’ll just point out that in the Afterword of the novel it was indicated that it might have been the MEN who were infertile but for various reasons they couldn’t admit/accept that, which was why some of the Commanders were not having any luck with the Handmaidens. Which also resulted in a lot of Handmaidens suffering for failing to get pregnant by a man who was shooting blanks.


I also thought the book was terrible.

I agree. Traditional gender roles and older values is one thing, but this is laughably beyond the pale.

What you describe is basically what society was until the latter part of the 20th century, and the gay marriage part didn’t happen until this century. If you are describing most of history as a “soft theocracy” then I think that is a very unique use of the term.

Tell me you haven’t read 1984 without telling me you haven’t read 1984.

You seem to have missed the part that I have underlined and marked in bold in Velocity’s quote. It’s not the mere advocation of those principles, but advocating them based on the fact that their religion says it is correct, and wanting their religious beliefs to be the law of the land.

That’s soft theocracy. You don’t flat out say that a certain religion is in charge, but, if significant and otherwise controversial parts of that religion’s beliefs are made into law and enforced on a populace who are not part of that religion, that is a soft theocracy.

I will grant that this type of reasoning was common in the past. Separation of Church and State is a newer concept, and, even then, those countries that had it didn’t always practice it. That’s why some commonly accepted practices had to be overturned by courts.

You are correct that a lot of history in the US involved aspects of soft theocracy. Not because of the specific ideas that Velocity mentions, but because of the general de facto supremacy of Christianity in the culture that would seep into the laws and rules of society.

But is it “advocating them based on the fact that their religion says it is correct” or is it “finding (or making up) religious justification for stuff they want”?

I would argue that, for most people, it’s the former. However, some savvy people will use the desire for the former to accomplish the latter.

For example, I have mentioned before that abortion is not mentioned in the Bible. Others have noted that Christianity in general was not united behind the idea that abortion was wrong, let alone that it should be illegal. I do think it is quite likely that this was intentionally pushed as part of the Christian political identity by politically savvy individuals.

However, in actual practice? Pretty much everyone I know thinks it is in the Bible, or that Christians are in fact required to not only be against abortion, but to be pro-life, advocating for it to be illegal. For them, it is a genuine belief that they wish to be put into law. There may be some subconscious motivations behind it that we’ve explored in other threads here, but they do genuinely believe that it is this horrible wrong that must be stopped, and that it’s okay to put up with various other sins to do so.

My thoughts exactly


Once again someone has confused the far left with the far right. That is ungood in a discussion.