Ione and Wayne Bennion Seminar for the Perpetuation of Democratic Principles

2022 Bennion Teachers’ Workshop

Religion and American Democracy: Literacy, Liberty, and the Public Good

Muslim Girl with Classmate

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. 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 communites contribute to American civil society.

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 students 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?"


Date: Monday, June 20 - Friday, June 24, 2022
Time: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM daily; and some additional evening events
Place: Utah State University, Logan Main Campus, Logan, Utah (Huntsman Hall - Room 180)
Director: Dr. Patrick Q. Mason, Associate Progessor of Relitious Studies and History, USU

Registration Options

Scholarships Are Available
Thanks to the Ione Bennion Endowment, a limited number of modest scholarships are available for those in degree programs enrolling for academic credit and to help out-of-town participants with travel costs. Scholarship funds are limited, so please apply early.

Workshop Course Requirements

  • Participants must attend all days of the workshop to receive course credits.
  • Prior to the workshop, participants will have reading assignments that need to be completed before the first session.
  • During the workshop, participants will be expected to make use of materials, engage in critical reflection, and participate in individual and collaborative structured learning activities.
  • A final project for the course will be due two weeks after the program completion. 

Dr Patrick Mason

Dr. Patrick Q. Mason

Dr. Mason will lead the 2022 Bennion Teachers’ Workshop with an esteemed list of keynote speakers and religious leaders. Dr. Mason holds the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at USU. He has written or edited several books, including Mormonism and Violence: The Battles of Zion (Cambridge University Press, 2019); What Is Mormonism? A Student's Introduction (Routledge, 2017); Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945, co-edited with John Turner (Oxford University Press, 2016); Directions for Mormon Studies in the Twenty-First Century (University of Utah Press, 2016); and The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South (Oxford University Press, 2011).  He was a Fulbright Scholar in Romania in 2015 and is a past president of the Mormon History Association.  He teaches courses on Mormonism, American religious history, the history of Christianity, and religion, violence, and peacebuilding.

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Workshop Testimonials

"As a teacher from a rural area, I really appreciate that Bennion is a world-class opportunity that provides scholarly interaction with top-notch students and excellent professors from multiple universities and institutions across the country."

"I love the intense one-week format of Bennion."

"Scholarly engagement with world class professors provides a rich experience"

"Critical for expanding my ability to grow as an educator."

"The only weakness was that the magic had to end, but we will take the magic with us."


Books of major world religions

Daily Highlights



  • World Religions 101
  • Teaching About Religion Without Teaching Religion - Dr. Chris Babits
  • World Religions Feast (Evening Event)


  • FIELD TRIP DAY - Religious site visits to:
    • Congregation Kol Ami (Jewish)
    • Khadeeja Islamic Center
    • Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah
    • Salt Lake Buddhist Temple




Old Main at USU looking over Cache Valley

Workshop Location, Meals, Lodging, and Parking

The workshop will be held on USU - Logan Campus in Hunstman Hall - Room 180.

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 events on Monday and Tuesday evenings (see Daily Highlights), and an offsite fieldtrip all day Wednesday.

Meals: Continental breakfasts, lunches, and the Tuesday night banquet are included as part of enrollment in the course. There are many dining options available close by in Cache Valley for your evening meals.

Lodging: Options include the following

Parking: If you are driving to campus each day, you may purchase a week-long parking pass for the Brown or Teal lots near Huntsman Hall. Daily parking is also available in the Big Blue Terrace or the Aggie Terrace at hourly or daily rates.