Of all the ideas Alice Walker attempts to convey in her novel The Color Purple, lack of religion is definitely not one of them. Misdirection is a word easily thrown around when the topic of religious differences appears, and this novel’s critics have been no more original. God is present in the novel very clearly in many varying forms.
Celie begins her letters to what we infer is the Christian god; she is asking for a sign, for some kind of help in her miserable life. As her humanity decreases through the abuse of the men in her world, she loses faith in this god that has never helped her. Unhappy, she explores other ways to find faith, no less faithful in the goodness of a higher being. Her sister Nettie becomes an outlet for her misgivings. Not any less religious, simply funneling her faith through a different person. The Olinka believe in a tree god who is established as an “it” rather than a “he”, but that doesn’t take away from their level of faith. Shug Avery also finds god in nature and takes in the beauty of earth to mean a form of religion. None of the characters which the readers most associate with protagonists are faithless.
Believers may not be able to sit altogether in a certain church and agree with everything the pastor says, but they can all be content with their lives and find meaning through the love of some higher being. What you, as concerned parents, might see as anti-Christianity, your teenager, as a curious, growing young adult, may see a million different factors of religion. The wonderful part is that everyone has their own personal belief system that works for them. Being open-minded and having respect for all beliefs is most important when growing through life, so making sure your child understands that is the best way to help he/she through this novel.