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2020 Bennion Teachers' Workshop - Religion and American Democracy:
Literacy, Liberty, and the Public Good 

The 2020 Bennion Teachers' Workshop has been cancelled due to the current situation with COVID-19. This workshop on Religion and American Democracy will be held Summer 2022. Please check back for updates on the workshop for Summer 2021 and feel free to email with any questions.

Muslim Girl with Classmate

Date: Monday, June 22 - Friday, June 26, 2020

Time: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Daily; and some additional evening events 

Place: University Inn - Room 507, Utah State University, Logan, Utah

Directors: Dr. Patrick Q. Mason, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and History, USU

Endowed By: Ione Spencer Bennion

Through interactive sessions and visits to religious sites, participants will gain understandings of

  • Religious diversity in the Intermountain West,
  • The importance of religious literacy for local and global citizenship,
  • Pedagogical tools for teaching about religion vs. teaching religion,
  • How to have hard conversation about contentious topics,
  • How religious communities contribute to American civil society.


Patrick Mason and Varon Soni

Visiting Scholars

In a religiously diverse and vibrant society such as the United States, and especially in the Mountain West where religion plays such a major role in our history and contemporary culture and politics, religious literacy becomes a key component of good citizenship.

Prominent religious scholars will explore the concept of religious literacy, argue for why it matters for good citizenship in our American democracy, and offer strategies for increasing religious literacy amoung studnets and the general public.

Discussions of religious liberty will be conducted by experts who will lead sessions that focus on the concept of "Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?" and "Who's Afraid of Religious Liberty?"

Books from Major World Religions

Daily Highlights

  • Monday: Religion in America: A Brief History Why Religious Literacy Matters.
    Evening: Keynote Address - Free and Open to the Public at 7:00 p.m.: Eccles Conference Center, Auditorium - Utah State University.

  • Tuesday: World Religions 101 - Teaching about Religion without Reaching Religion.
    Evening: World Religions Feast.

  • Wednesday: Field Trip! Site Visit to Houses of Worship.

  • Thursday: Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? Teaching the First Amendment. Who's Afraid of Religious Liberty?

  • Friday: Religion and Democracy in Comparative Perspective. Religious Contributions to Civil Society.

USU - Old Main

Workshop Location, Meals, Lodging, Parking

Location: The workshop will be in the conference room located in the University Inn - Room 507

Time: A continental breakfast will be available each day beginning at 8:30 a.m. The workshop will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, with additional evening events (see Daily Highlights).

Meals: Continental breakfasts, lunches, and the evening events included as part of enrollment in the workshop. There are many dining options available close by in Logan for your evening meals. 

Lodging: Accomodation options include:

  • Reservations at the University Inn on USU Campus may be made prior to June 8th at the Bennion Teachers' Workshop rate.
  • Several hotels are available in Logan. For a list please email 

Parking: If you are driving to campus each day, you may  purchase a week-long parking pass (see instructions) for one of the "black" lots near the University Inn (see map) for $30.00 for the entire week. Daily parking is also available in the Big Blue Terrace or the Aggie Terrace for $2.00 per hour or $10.00 for the entire day.