Special issue in Sociologial Inquiry on “The Cultural and the Racial: Stitching Together the Sociologies of Race/Racism/Ethnicity and Culture.”
The durability of racism in the United States continues to inspire critical scholarship about the mechanisms that drive persisting inequalities. Drawing on theories of colorblindness and white ignorance, growing work examines how White people actively deny, revise, or mystify white supremacy, illuminating cultural mechanisms that (re)produce racialized structures. Largely absent from this body of work, however, is the potential role of religion—specifically Christianity—as a cultural system that can inform and legitimize ways of knowing (or not knowing) about racism. Here, we draw on 85 interviews with White Christians (Catholic, Mainline Protestant, and Evangelical Protestant) to analyze how they talk about racism and produce racial knowledge. We show how some White Christians draw on colorblind religious frames and religious frames of diversity and inclusion to inform and legitimize overlapping, sometimes contradictory racial logics that can be deployed across social contexts to produce ignorance about systemic racism. Findings reveal the production of colorblindness as a dynamic process that, under certain conditions, White Christians actively negotiate by using religious frames, producing what we describe as divinized colorblindness.