I remember when the original movie came out in 1990, but at the time I was somewhere between a pagan and a confused ex-Evangelical. I wouldn't have fully understood the context. I still have not seen the movie and doubt I will, but this review was quite interesting.
Atwood apparently picked up on one of the major influences at work within the Christian Right. When the novel was penned in 1985, Theonomy and Dominionism were just starting to gain some traction and garner attention. A number of controversies surrounding the movement raged during the 1990s. By the end of the decade the movement splintered and re-formed into different camps. Rushdoony the patriarch of Theonomy died in 2001.
As a movement it is in one sense quite dead. But an argument could be made that it's alive and well, but in various modified forms.
While the story is probably guilty of caricature and exaggeration, on the other hand the reviewer's comparisons with both Puritan New England and Francoist Spain ring true. That's even more the case today as many of the contemporary manifestations of Dominion Theology are in the context of Throne and Altar categories... more reminiscent of Franco's Roman Catholic state than the Jeffersonian and Madisonian Enlightenment state that many Evangelicals have in principle abandoned.
Not formally mind you. They still pay lip service and (as it were) burn incense at all the sacred shrines. And yet they have in many cases repudiated the philosophical framework of the Founders.
The Evangelical-Roman Catholic rapprochement born of 1990's Dominion-inspired ecumenicism has re-shaped much of modern Conservative Protestantism's thinking with regard to the state and society.
Obviously Atwood hates Jesus Christ and Biblical Christianity is woefully misrepresented.
But on the other hand, she has a point and indeed the objects of scorn are in the end dangerously removed from the doctrines and ethics of the New Testament.
The new television series is generating discussion and has people riled. Once again I'm left standing on the outside. Both the critics and defenders are from my perspective misguided.