While Scarfolk Council did not officially endorse any religious denomination, many people felt that it strongly favoured the stationery and office-supply cult known as Officism (see Discovering Scarfolk for more details). In fact, several people in the upper echelons of local government were believed to be high-ranking members of the cult.
The council’s bias can be seen in this state-funded advent calendar, which was sold in Scarfolk in 1976. The intention of the calendar, with its images of religious violence concealed behind an idyllic nativity scene, was to undermine the spurious message of love perpetuated by the country’s dominant religion.
The calendar’s violent imagery, however, was more attractive than the council had expected. Children wrote letters in their hundreds to Father Christmas asking for balaclavas, klan hoods, ducking stools and other torture instruments that hadn’t been in use since the Spanish Inquisition.
The Officist cult realised that to compete in the competitive market of religion, it would have to introduce its own brand of fashionable cruelty. Following months of market research and an intensive collaboration with an advertising agency, the cult came up with Torment Mittens™, which were cheap to manufacture but produced the right balance of physical pain, psychological distress and fear of the divine.