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KNOWITALL's avatar

Is the Handmaids Tale how you envision the US if the religious right were to be in complete control?

Asked by KNOWITALL (21209points) 3 months ago

Many people are watching Hulu’s Handmaids Tale, which some have said is how liberals see the world if the religious right were to seize control.

The troubling parts (imo) is that they completely subvert women in this patriarchy. Handmaids are ‘breeders’ given by force to infertile couples to produce children in a world where the birth rate has declined to dangerous levels.

In this series, Canada is completely against the practice so people are fleeing across the border. Mexico is contemplating using the same system, even after knowing the drawbacks.

If you have seen the series, even partially, is this realistically how you see the religious right running the US?

If not, what is your vision of that world?

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46 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, listen to the leaders of the religious rights, their views of a woman’s place in the home, their views of how to raise children, and it becomes obvious what would happen, and it’s not good.
That is why the founding fathers put the separation of church and state in the constitution because they had just come out of that system of government in England and it was all bad.

zenvelo's avatar

I have not watched the show, but read the novel. It is pretty true to how some Fundamentalist/Evangelicals would prefer life to be structured. It isn’t a matter of how you see the religious right running things, it is an extension of how many think the world should be structured.

And there is evidence on display – Alabama not only banned abortion for rape victims, they protect the rapist’s parental rights. Go to a Promise Keeper’s rally and listen to how women are expected to behave.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@zenvelo Not arguing with you, but that’s not at all how I see the Promise Keepers.

I also believe that from the beginning, the bible emphasizes ‘choice’ above all. The dramatized version completely eradicates choice. Just as one example.

zenvelo's avatar

@KNOWITALL The Bible emphasizes many things that the Fundamentalist/Evangelical Right choose to ignore.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@zenvelo Agreed. When they were quoting bible verses in this show, it really creeped me out. I never really understood bible literalists though. I mean I understand trying your best to live your best life by the bible-to a degree, but there has to be context in a modern age, too.

MrGrimm888's avatar

If the religious right had ultimate power, it would be far worse. They would be a Christian version of ISIS.

Sound extreme? It’s not too far back in history when women could be burned at the stake, for suspicion of being a witch, in the US.
History, is FULL of amazingly awful things that are a direct result of religion being unchecked. Christianity, along with all organized religion is a cancer to humanity. Like Trump, religion only has power if enough people support it. But the majority of human beings are gullible, and prone to wanting to belong, and wanting to believe in something. I myself would love to believe in a religion, but none of them make the slightest bit of sense. And I was raised Baptist.

Religion is about manipulation of mass groups of people, to force the directions of society in a singular path.

There are/have been many examples of societies being controlled by religion. The Handmaiden’s Tale, is actually less extreme, than many of those real life examples…

Dutchess_III's avatar

That was really well said @MrGrimm888.

I’d like to add that Christian religions are predominantly male controlled. That’s brings up a whole other set of problems.

SaganRitual's avatar

To clarify, I’ll assume you mean Christians, or people who call themselves Christians, as opposed to Muslims or Pastafarians.

An important point to note is that “religious right” is not a homogeneous group. Their doctrines are all over the map, and in some ways, they consider each other even more dangerous than the anti-religious. Many of them will flatly state that the others are not “true” Christians. I’ve often said that the clearest sign of a “true” Christian is that they go around telling other people they’re not “true” Christians.

Another important point is that there is no compromise for the deeply religious. The countless factions and sects believe they (and they alone) have God’s ear; they believe they’re the most qualified to interpret his word and enact his will on Earth. The lack of compromise is the reason there are so many thousands of Christians sects today.

If the religious right gained control, there would be all-out war among them. Eventually, when there were almost none left (because they would have mostly killed each other), they would finally understand the reason for the First Amendment. They would reach out to the rest of us, the secular people and religious moderates who supported the First Amendment, and beg us for a replacement, a beefed-up amendment with strong and specific language, to make sure no such thing ever happens again.

The late Christopher Hitchens was fond of telling the story of Thomas Jefferson’s conversation with the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut. They asked Jefferson for reassurance that the First Amendment was really going to work, to protect them from religious persecution. From whom did they fear persecution? Not Muslims. Not Pastafarians. Not even the government. Rather, they feared other Christians. To be specific, the Congregationalists of Connecticut.

Peace and luck

LostInParadise's avatar

I have not seen the program, but I cannot envision the religious right being in control. In first world nations, religion is an idea whose time has gone. All major Christian sects in the U.S. are in decline as a percentage of population. The number of Americans with no religion has grown dramatically. Link And the results are even more dramatic in Europe.

During the time of religious decline, the Flynn Effect showed an increase in IQ, due primarily to greater ability in abstract reasoning. I don’t think this is coincidental. People have become more comfortable with the notion of things being caused by scientific laws rather than being caused by God.

Demosthenes's avatar

I think it’s an example of what one loony interpretation of Christianity gaining power would be like. You can’t make a generalization about the entire “religious right” in power. The religious right in America also tends to be very pro-America, so it’s hard to envision how they would square a strict theocratic society with the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution. I’m sure there are some fringe on the religious right who would gladly scrap the Constitution and replace it with the Bible, but that doesn’t seem to be most religious conservatives in the United States.

gorillapaws's avatar

The problem with a theocracy is that faith always overrides reason. Without being accountable to facts and logic, a religious leader is in the position to abuse his/her authority and often does (at least throughout ancient and modern history). This isn’t a criticism that’s specific to Christianity, it’s a pattern that’s consistent across many faiths and cultures.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Demosthenes As a Christian, I was intrigued & offended at the depiction tbh.

One of the things I despise the most about society in general and this series, is the emphasis on women as “breeders”, it sickens me. And so many women today still believe that’s basically all their purpose is in life to get married and have babies….if it’s a choice, that’s one thing, if it’s all they are made to believe they can attain, not okay.

A few things did seem on point, however, with the double-standard of debauchery being a ‘closeted’ yet intentional misstep seemingly co-existing with the strict rules for the rest of the population (the Jezebels in Handmaid.) *We have a little joke about the liquor store and Catholics use the front door, but Baptists use the back door.

Also the main character feels reduced instead of uplifted, and is obviously treated horribly from being beaten to rape, to forcing the children from the mothers which made them embrace suicidal tendencies.

The whole premise is seriously flawed imo, being from Christian conservative land.

@SaganRitual Very interesting and important point, the fact that there are so many different sects/beliefs, I think you’re right. On THIS site, the religious right is always Christian, but point taken. :)

JLeslie's avatar

I haven’t seen the show, but I hear a lot of pro-life people constantly say that “many couples want to adopt.” I do feel like they are just fine with women being treated as breeders. We aren’t tying girls down and inseminating them, but still I don’t like it. Not long ago young girls were forced to give up their babies, they didn’t really have a choice to keep the baby. Especially the Catholics participated in this, shipping the pregnant girl away to have the baby, and return again like nothing happened. Many adults my age who were adopted were probably the result of this type of expectation.

Even today, I feel like in some sects of Christianity girls are practically groomed to choose giving up their baby if they become pregnant out of wedlock. I don’t like it, I don’t like it one bit, and I don’t think it is a far stretch to think women would be forced to breed, or at minimum forced to give up their babies. A lot of people now think the best thing to do is give away the baby.

With religious fundamentalists in charge there would be more judgment and scorn regarding unwed sex, and children born from single mothers.. Right now the religious right seems to not be behaving like that as much. In fact as a reaction to abortion, the religious right seems to be all happy and loving when a new life arrives, no matter the marital status, but I think that would quickly change if they started gaining more control of the government.

It’s not that I think all religious Christians would be ok with it, it’s that I think the ones who would seek power could very well be the ones wanting this type of control, and many religious people are easily convinced to follow if they believe in a leader. They are groomed to follow. Raised to not question. Raised to be obedient.

Mind you, I think one reason America was different in our founding and believed in separation of church and state, was because Protestants in search of religious freedom settled here and formed a government.

There were women who were breeders when Hitler was in control. Some probably willingly, and some probably forced, I don’t know the details of those blond, blue eyed, baby factories.

When I think of the religious right being in charge, women being forced to breed is not my first thought for the US specifically. I think of prayer in school, and religious symbols in all government places, and that minority religions will feel ostracized. Education will be less available to the poor, and even the right to vote will be taken from some groups. Abortion being illegal, gay marriage being outlawed again, and eventually I think it will be the demise of our country. What theocracy is prosperous, civil, and good for women? I can’t think of one. Everything I named are things actually talked about today, some of those things people want today. All you need is the wrong few people in charge and it can happen.

When you say the emphasis on women as breeders sickens you, do you mean you think it would never happen? Or, you think it could happen and the thought of it is horrifying to you?

Dutchess_III's avatar

“With religious fundamentalists in charge there would be more judgment and scorn regarding unwed sex…. ” and the brothels would be booming.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Good answer.
I think society has changed and that (out of wedlock) is not so much the ‘shame’ on families it was before. Any group of society that puts stock in “appearances” as part of their value will have abuses, like the Catholic church, politics, etc…

As far as groomed to choose to give up their babies, sure they are. Just like liberals are okay with killing them because the women will have a better life, (some) Christians would rather the child be raised in a two parent Christian home than with a single mother. I know one woman who tried to get her meth head daughter to give up her baby to another Christian couple. Didn’t happen but it struck me as odd. I asked why she didn’t take it, and she said she herself was too old but the baby deserved better.

Christians are raised to not question in relation to God’s authority and His word. That doesn’t mean everything else is thrown in. I think there’s a difference in questioning authority, like with the govt. I’ve known a lot of Christians heavily involved in politics for this very reason. They don’t trust nonbelievers to lead accordingly- I am generalizing here for the sake of disclaimers with every sentence.

When I say ‘women as breeders’, I imagine a few women I’ve known who’s only ambition in life, from childhood to adulthood, was to be a good wife and mother, finding that ‘man’ to take care of them. I was raised much in the same environment, but luckily had a multitude of hippies around who always built me up to believe I could do and/or be anything I wanted. I just think it’s a shame that some sects of society/religion (not just Christianity) are so intent on destroying ambition or dreams in women.

I can’t wait for a female President btw.

*(I in no way am putting down women who choose to be a wife and mother of their own free will, just the women who are brainwashed into thinking there aren’t other options for their lives.)

Patty_Melt's avatar

Breeders are an old testament thing, slaves or concubines being brought by the wife to have her husband’s children if she could not.
I could not see even the most literal faiths resort to that unless the human race were in danger of extinction.

The old testament followers are no more popular than the snake dancers or odd theorists like flat Earthers.

If the population were so low worldwide that extinction could be a possibility, I should think the living might go to extreme measures. If it were just a US issue, I think they would simply do what the original far right Christians did, and invite open immigration.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Patty_Melt Agreed.

Actually mom said that last night while we were discussing, that Jesus came to abolish the old laws.

We were both a little taken aback at the depiction of the ‘religious’ and it’s a little hurtful to know some people actually believe someone like me would choose that kind of a world for my fellow women. But as other conservative women have said, I do see a tiny bit of myself in the depiction, too, as far as different moral boundaries than secular society, abortion, child abuse, sexual licentiousness, etc…

That’s what made me ask the question here, where I knew people would be happy to tell me the painful truth, that they believed this version or not.

Interesting article here:
“Conservative women are used to being drawn as caricatures. In “The Handmaid’s Tale”, the caricaturing is artfully good. The second season came out today, Wednesday, and the trailer promises it will delve deeper into the psyche of its conservative female antagonist and the perceived readiness of women such as she to create a world where women are oppressed.”
In fairness, the show leaves some nuance intact, especially with regard to religion. Margaret Atwood, who wrote the book on which the show is based, has explicitly said she didn’t write it to be an anti-religious tome.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But you DO choose that world. You agree with the Kentucky laws that now say women who are raped can not have an abortion. It even goes so far as to say the rapists would have parental rights.
That is just horrifying. All of it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I don’t agree with that at at all and have NEVER discussed a rapists parental rights here or elsewhere.

What I did say just last week on this site, is that I don’t often discuss the “exceptions” because rape and incest are less than 3% of all abortions.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL The problem is, if they are taught to not question God’s authority, and bad people pose as the grand communicators of God’s law, then it can be abused. This is what the KKK, Al Qaeda, and other similar authorities do. They use religion as a tool, and people follow because they see it as being God’s will. It can happen with political leaders also, they start creating policy and law based on religion, and people support it based on religion.

Our laws should be based on ethics, but we can be ethical without needing the Bible as a guide. Many religious people don’t see, feel, or believe that.

I’ll pick on Christianity because that’s our majority in our country. Christianity has a lot of verbiage to support women being controlled by men. Women are to be submissive. Our history in America treated women like slaves. They couldn’t own property, weren’t paid equally, if paid at all, and couldn’t vote. In fact, black men were given the right to vote before women. I’d argue this set up of women having little power was supported by religion.

I think a lot of pro-choice young people are told all of their options if they get pregnant. I do admit in my family my mother would have wanted me to get an abortion. I don’t know if she would have encouraged me to give away the baby if I wouldn’t abort. I can tell you I personally can’t fathom giving away my baby. If I had been talked into it as a teen, I guess maybe I would have adjusted for mental self preservation, but as an adult, knowing my own mind, I just cannot imagine handing over my child. I feel like I wouldn’t sleep the rest of my life. I guess maybe it’s better now with open adoption. I still don’t have the personality for it. I really feel I would have a hole in my soul forever.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie My faith is in God, not man, not even pastors. Nor do I attend organized religious services often. As a Christian, many would judge me a bad one, having gay and trans friends, etc… I dont submit to much of anyone either lol

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL Oh, I know, but a lot of people are not like you. A lot of people are attending church services and buying into whatever they are told. Luckily, right now, much of it is being good to our fellow man, but not all of it is, and it can quickly change.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll add that many of my friends were counseled to submit for a happier marriage. They tried to live by that. I see how it could mean less conflict, and then also the woman is more off the hook for decisions made. I can see how sometimes in every couple, one partner decides to trust the judgement of the other, and submitting is sort of that idea in Christianity.

It’s a sort of insidious way women can lose power in their life. I think many married women have the experience of denying their own ambitions for their husband’s, this is separate from religion, it can happen fairly natural, especially if the couple has children, or if the husband’s career takes precedence. Then add in religion and it becomes even more of a credo that the husband is leading in the relationship. What we have though is if we need to leave the marriage, or if we snap out of it and decide now is my time, we have the law on our side protecting us if our husbands are not supportive. Without society and the law supporting us we are screwed.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, we have megachurches like that. Not inclusive, very strict. I cant handle churches that request W2’s. Not condusive to my faith.

Some women would submit to almost anything, but I dont know many. Ladies arethe ones pushing it on the men usually.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My vision of the world isn’t what happens in The Handmaid’s Tale. There is the possibility that one country could come to this, but for all, it is highly unlikely.

JLeslie's avatar

@KNOWITALL I didn’t realize it was a mega church thing. We did have two within 20 minutes of me. A few of my friends went to the same one. I went to a fashion event there one time.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Mega churches, are one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. The people who run these places, are pure evil. Some have their own TV shows, that you used to find on early morning hours. The scary part, is how cyclic it is. The bigger the crowd, the more the crowd grows. Old time evangelicals used to travel with fake audience members, to help deceive the gullible. It worked great. I am absolutely positive, that many bigger churches have actors spread around the audience.

The saddest part of the income that they generally generate is that most who give money, don’t have it to spare.

KNOWITALL's avatar

People love them here. Showy faith is a big no no to Baptists and Fundamentals, Presbyterians, etc… Even after Jim Baker people around here still send monthly gifts, drives me crazy but their marketing is spot on.

JLeslie's avatar

My friends loved the church in TN that I went to that one time. I think it was 5,000 members. I want to say it was Presbyterian. Hope church just outside of Memphis.

MrGrimm888's avatar

My grandmother’s church holds like a couple thousand. It’s basically a brainwashing complex… Lots of “classrooms” etc…

JLeslie's avatar

I found it online. Hope church

The churches were like the recreation centers of the community, not just churches. People did all sorts of socializing there.

MrGrimm888's avatar


Hey Dutch. I forgot to mention that I almost threw in the male dominant part of religion. Obviously, there are times that I might debate the relevance of gender. Not in that case. I wonder if that played a role in some of the foundations of some of the major religions?... Seems impossible to ignore…

Patty_Melt's avatar

I can’t imagine being in a church with 5000 people. I once attended a church of several hundred. We had moved. Mom decided to make choosing a church regularly we would look in the yellow pages, and vote one what sounds cool, choosing a new one each week. When I see the common room at Hogwarts, with a magical fake sky, it reminds me of that church. It was huge, with a very high ceiling, maybe four or five stories up. The speakers were loud, the pipe organ was loud, and the people freaked me out. The moment the minister said the final Amen, the entire congregation took turns throwing themselves in our faces. It was like a huge game of hot potato, and we were potatoes. Pop! What’s your names? Pop! Hi! Wonderful to see you here! Pop! Where are you from?
I made a decided push for the door, and nothing would deter me until I had my hand on that car door. It didn’t feel at all friendly. It was more like they intended for me to love them, whether I like it or not.

If those people took over, they would tax everyone 50% of their wages, adorn the white house with stained glass windows in deep shades of red, blue, purple, and green. I think instead of breeders assigned to families, they would have men of high status go and give it to those childless women but good and make sure the problem wasn’t a weak spirited husband.
Every town and village would have speakers mounted on every block which would play sermons all day long and organs and choir all night.
Anyone failing to attend scheduled gatherings would be fined and publicly humiliated.
Women would wear hats and white gloves.
Everyone would play bridge Saturday evenings.
If wife failed to be pregnant even after several goes with ranking men, she would be baptized in permanent die like an Easter egg, and her husband would be gifted a virgin of his choosing.
And finally, I would eat a bullet.

Stache's avatar

@KNOWITALL My ex brother-in-law is a Promise Keeper. He’s an ex for a very good reason. What @zenvelo said is true.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

(Jumping in without reading the answer thread.)

I read that novel way back in the mid-1980s, just after it had been published. The author, Margaret Atwood, had been inspired by recent events in Iran – a relatively modernized and westernized culture being overtaken by religious extremists. She created the North American version, envisioning a totalitarian regime that exploits Christian fundamentalism.

I haven’t seen the TV series. The novel was disturbing and memorable.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Re: Is the Handmaids Tale how you envision the US if the religious right were to be in complete control?
Not if there were more females then males on the planet will this happen.
Especially if the females were not in line with the misguided thinking of society.
Have more female intelligent independent children.
And this is the case when more males in in the military are being killed in combat etc

It may take an intelligent and more importantly WISE, Women President to put things back into perspective?

KNOWITALL's avatar

Ah @Patty_Melt, we think alike at times.

To me a mega church is hella impersonal, but they want you to get very personal to them.
I mean who asks for W2’s to make sure you’re tithe is the correct amount?
Also, they want the church to be your life, not just a Sunday thing, but an every day thing. Classes for different things, volunteering in the food pantry, or bus driving, or teaching a youth group, etc…

If your scenario were real, I’d probably eat a bullet, too.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@KNOWITALL You are actually a good example. If you were in charge of the country, would you make abortion illegal, period?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III Are you asking me as a regular human being or as an elected official?
That’s two very different sets of rules.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK. As an elected official.

MrGrimm888's avatar

And could you please explain the difference between being a citizen, or elected official, in why it might sway your decision?

I’m just curious.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess n @MrG As an elected official I swore to uphold the Constitution, so ethically, for me, the seperation of church and state, as with other verbiage, I could not vote to make abortion illegal.

As a private citizen, based on my personal beliefs, I would vote to make it illegal. I believe each human life has value.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@KNOWITALL . Thank you, for your explanation.

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