Religion is an interesting topic. Religion can be used for good, but it can also be used for evil means. As I finished watching the Hulu original series The Handmaid’s Tale based on the novel by Margaret Atwood this is a thought that kept replaying in my head. These characters in this story are using religion for their twisted and perverse means. The premise of the story is of this dystopian world where women are no longer allowed to read and you have these women that are known as handmaid’s whose main role is to give their bodies over to this couple who can’t have children of their own. They’re not seen as a person, more of a vessel to create life and when they have a child they’re not considered the mom but the leaders of that household are. Now their whole justification for this way of living is based off of the Bible story of Rachel and Leah. Below is an excerpt from Genesis 30:1-3. The people of Gilead, the city in which the story takes place, took this scripture as literally as you can get. The handmaid lays on her back with the wife behind her while her husband has intercourse with her. There’s no intimacy, it’s cold and impersonal. In a way it’s like the handmaid isn’t even there. The thing that stands out to me in the story though is their supposed love for God and his scriptures, but it’s nothing more than mind control. I honestly see it as a reflection of today’s society. People use religion today as a fear tactic or as a form of mind control to get you to do what they want or be who they want you to be.
Another story that I could say that uses religion as mind control is Carrie by Stephen King. More specifically I’m thinking of the character of Carrie’s mother in the story. She was a known religious fanatic in the town, and she made Carrie feel bad about being normal. I remember watching the scene in the original 1976 adaptation when Carrie got her period and she didn’t know what was going on or what was happening to her body. When she got home and talked to her mom, her mom pulled out a Bible and started preaching to her about the sins of women. I’ll post that scene below, but you can’t you see how religion in literature is also a reflection of real life. Carrie’s mom made her feel dirty and wrong even though what her body was doing was perfectly normal and natural, but instead of talking to Carrie about it she hit her with a Bible…literally.
And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?
3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.
King James Version (KJV)