Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards

First Place Prize: $4,000
Second Place Prize: $3,000
Third Place Prize: $2,000
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $500


All eligible entrants will also receive a full 1-year complimentary student membership to FFRF, which includes a digital version of 10 issues of Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper (publishes winning student essays).
 
This Year's Topic: Why religious exemptions from vaccine requirements are not legally required.
 
Prompt: As the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has become vital to the global effort to end the pandemic, both government and private employers, as well as some schools, around the country have announced vaccine mandates. Historically, very few employees have claimed religious exemptions from required vaccinations. However, people who oppose COVID-19 vaccines for political or other reasons are now abusing religious exemptions in order to flout vaccine mandates.

Against this backdrop lawsuits have surged, challenging vaccine requirements on religious grounds and arguing that religious exemptions to such requirements are required by the First Amendment. Craft an argument that religious exemptions from vaccine requirements are not legally required, addressing constitutional questions as well as other legal issues raised by such mandates. 
 
DEADLINE: March 15, 2022

ESSAY GRADING: Essays will be blinded to avoid unintentional bias. A selection of FFRF attorneys will be on the review panel. 
 
ELIGIBILITY: The contest is open to all ongoing law school students attending a North American law school. You remain eligible to enter this contest if you will graduate from law school by spring or summer of 2022. You are not eligible to enter if you will be starting law school for the first time in the fall of 2022. You may not re-enter if FFRF has already awarded you for a law student essay.
 
WORD LIMIT AND FORMATTING: Essay must be no longer than 1,500 words (not including footnotes), double spaced, standard margins, and font size 11 to 14 point. Include your name and title of your essay on each page. Choose your own title. Pages must be numbered. Indicate word length at end of essay.

AGREEMENT: By entering, students agree to permit winning essays to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper, and posted online at FFRF's website. Winners agree to promptly provide a photograph suitable for reproduction with their essay. Verification of student enrollment may be requested.

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* 1. Please provide the following personal information

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* 2. Please provide your permanent contact information. (Country is only required if you are outside of the U.S.)

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* 3. Please provide your school-year address information, if different from permanent address.

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* 4. Please answer the following questions regarding your undergraduate degree(s).

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* 5. Please write a one-paragraph biography about yourself.

This may include interests, family, volunteerism, secular, or other activism, year in school, awards, work experience, travel, and professional or educational goals.

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* 6. How did you hear about this essay competition?

Was it a specific scholarship website, our newspaper, school, etc.?

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* 7. I verify that I am currently enrolled in law school.

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* 8. By entering this competition, I agree to the following if I am one of the winners: to permit my winning essay to be announced in a news release, posted online at FFRF’s website, and printed in full or in part in FRFF’s newspaper, Freethought Today; to promptly provide FFRF with a high resolution photograph of myself suitable for publication with my winning essay; to send verification of student enrollment, if requested.

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* 9. Upload your essay as a PDF here

PDF file types only.
Choose File

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* 10. Optional gift for entering: Please indicate if you are interested in receiving a free copy of the book The Lord Was Not on Trial: The Inside Story of the Supreme Court's Precedent-Setting McCollum Ruling by Dan McCollum. This will be sent to the address you listed above unless you indicate otherwise. Books are subject to availability based on the number of applicants and will be sent out after the deadline.

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