Take it to the Lord: Religion and Responses to Racial Discrimination in the Workplace

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Drawing on in-depth interview data from the nationally representative Faith at Work: An Empirical Study, this article contributes to understanding the role of religion in shaping interpretations of and responses to racial discrimination in the workplace. Specifically, it shows how Christians of different racial groups understand the relevance of their faith in coping with perceived racial discrimination in the workplace, and it illuminates the religious frames that respondents employ to “make sense” of perceived racial discrimination at work. We find that Christians of color and White Christians primarily draw on religious frames such as forgiveness and divine sovereignty in response to perceived discrimination but that these frames serve different functions. Some Christians of color also link their faith to a moral conviction to stand up for themselves and others in the workplace. While most studies on the connection between religion and racial discrimination focus on faith as an individual-level coping mechanism and buffering effect, this article also analyzes the implications of religion on racial hierarchies and racial equity efforts in the workplace—including a focus on how religion serves to produce epistemologies of ignorance and support feelings of White victimhood. Our study contributes to the scholarship on racial discrimination and religion by offering new insights into how Christians of different racial groups use faith to cope with perceived racial discrimination at work.

Link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/23326492241231766