Du Bois, Mormonism, LDS, Race, Double Consciousness


The work of W.E.B. Du Bois highlights the significance of Christian religion in Black American life. According to Du Bois, the Black Church serves as a site of self-formation and affirmation, and the White Church as a source of racist beliefs and justifications for inequality. In this paper, we expand Du Bois’ inquiry about the influence of religion with a study of Black Americans who belong to a predominantly White religion. For those whose religious experience is almost wholly within the “white world,” what role does religion play in their lives? We analyze a set of 52 public accounts by Black Americans discussing their experiences as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). We find that for many Black LDS, membership in the LDS Church is characterized by contrast and contradiction, yielding spiritual conviction, joy, and meaningful communion on one hand, and racism and isolation on the other. We also find that Black LDS respond to these contradictions in a variety of ways. We classify these agentic responses into five types and examine the sociological significance of the observed variation. We conclude with a discussion of implications for scholarship on race and religion.

Original Publication Citation

Wood, Michael, Grace Soelberg, and Jacob S. Rugh. 2023. "Making Space Behind the Veil: Black Agency within a Predominantly White Religion." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



The Society for the Scientific Study of Religion


Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor

Included in

Sociology Commons