Elisabeth Moss is not here for your Scientology and The Handmaids Tale comparisons

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  • She's standing up for her religion, and her role

    Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

    Elisabeth Moss has become a feminist icon in the last few years, having been thrust into the spotlight thanks to her breakthrough role as Peggy Olsen in Mad Men. She has spoken out about how women are treated in Hollywood, opening up about her personal experiences of sexism in the industry, and explaining why she will only do nude scenes under this one condition.

    But it is her role as Offred in the highly acclaimed Hulu series, The Handmaids Tale that has had audiences captivated. For weeks, we tuned in to see what would unfold in the on-screen adaptation Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, and people quickly began to make strong comparisons between the world’s current political climate and that of the fictitious world of Gilead.

    However, when one fan commented on the similarities between Scientology and The Handmaids Tale, Elisabeth decided to take the comparison head on. The 35 year-old actress rarely speaks about her religion, but she was raised as a Scientologist by her parents and is standing by her beliefs.

    ‘Love this adaptation so much. Both Gilead and Scientology both believe that all outside sources (aka news) are wrong or evil… it’s just very interesting,’ one fan commented on Instagram.

    In the bestselling novel, Atwood has created a world whereby women are ranked in accordance to their fertility, with those able to bear children given as handmaids to wealthy and important men, acting as (involuntary) surrogates. The world of Gilead is run by a right-wing fundamentalist Christian group, who were able to seize power in America and block the rest of the free world from interfering with their oppressive structure.

    But Elisabeth was keen to quash any ideas that Scientology was reminiscent of the Gilead regime, replying to the fan: ‘That’s actually not true at all about Scientology. Religious freedom and tolerance and understanding the truth and equal rights for every race, religion and creed are extremely important to me. The most important things to me probably. And so Gilead and [The Handmaids Tale] hit me on a very personal level. Thanks for the interesting question!’

    Elisabeth has only spoken about her experience of the religion a handful of times, telling the Telegraph in 2012: ‘It’s not the same thing as going to church on Sunday. It’s self-applied. It involves reading — you have to make a choice. I think that for me it’s one thing that has helped me at times, and it’s kind of as simple as that.’

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