Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” has become something of a cultural phenomenon in the Trump era. Based on the 1985 book by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, the series imagines a dystopian world in which religious fundamentalists have seized control of society, much like radical Islamists have already done in the Middle East.
The popular show often takes jabs at Christianity, serving not only as entertainment but also a commentary on conservative culture. A recent episode, “God Bless the Child,” takes shots at both baptism and the Catholic Church.
In the episode, June, played by actor Elisabeth Moss, thought back to a time when she had her firstborn daughter dedicated by infant baptism. June’s mother, though, was not supportive of the decision.
Portrayed by actor Cherry Jones, June’s mom described the priests who would carry out the sacrament as “holier-than-thou child molesters.”
“Do you think that your father would care?” she continued. “He spent a hell of a lot more time at Fenway than he ever did at Mass. You cannot let religion control your choices. That’s what they all want.”
June was clearly frustrated by her mother Holly’s outburst. But her friend Moira, played by actor Samira Wiley, sided with Holly, taking issue with the church’s stance against her LGBTQ lifestyle. She said the priests were likely “not too thrilled that I’m the fairy godmother.”
All in all, it seemed the scene was less about baptism and more about slighting the Catholic Church over recent revelations about child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy. The floodgates have been open on the issue ever since August 2018, when a grand jury in Pennsylvania detailed hundreds of cases of sexual abuse spanning more than 300 priests and 1,000 child victims over the course of 70 years.
At the end of the June 12 episode, Moira and June’s husband Luke, played by actor O.T. Fagbenle, take Offred’s baby Nicole to be baptized by a Catholic priest. In that scene, infant baptism is not demonized but portrayed as a meaningful spiritual experience.