The theme of religion is prominent in The Color Purple. Both Celie and Nettie's lives throughout the novel are driven and surrounded by the church and their faith. Celie begins the novel with a very naive view of religion and God. She is a loyal church goer and she addresses all of her letters to God because "as long as I can spell G-o-d, I got someone along". Celie used her religion and counted on God to be her support throughout her difficult life, especially because she receives little support at first from the other churchgoers. Her initial view of God is as a white man with a beard which is eventually rejected as she comes into her own as a black woman. Her view of religion changes throughout the novel as she grows and becomes more independent and stands up for herself. God becomes more of an ambiguous being, with no race or gender. Through her growth and her relationship with Shug, Celie begins to see God as a universal being. She embraces the idea that God isn't just there to help her weather the storm of her life, but that God wants her to enjoy her life and embrace "the color purple". As Shug tells her, God would rather she "lay back and just admire stuff. Be happy". This revelation about God and her spirituality comes alongside her breakthrough as an independent woman. By enjoying the things around her and finding the good in her life, she is expressing her love for God and by enjoying the beautiful things around her, she becomes more happy and improves her life.
Nettie goes on a very different faith journey by becoming a missionary and devoting her life to spreading religion and her faith. She too begins her religious journey in a very structured and strict place but learns through her missionary work that a structured, organizing religion isn't always the best and forcing religion on people isn't as freeing as she thought. Both women go through a sort of crisis of religion towards the end of the novel but find their "color purple" in their reunion.