Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards


Brian Bolton First Place Award: $3,000
Second Place Award: $2,000
Third Place Award: $1,000
Fourth Place Award: $750
Fifth Place Award: $500
Sixth Place Award: $400
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

In addition to their scholarship, winners will receive a school-year membership to FFRF, which includes a subscription to Freethought Today. All other eligible entrants will be offered the choice of a student FFRF membership and Freethought Today subscription, or a freethought book or product.
THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: Why religious liberty should not mean the right to impose your religion on others.

PROMPT: Examine the threat posed by the Religious Right’s redefinition of “religious liberty” as a way to impose religion on others. The Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision in 2014 granted religion unprecedented privilege. You may discuss the Hobby Lobby case, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act it is based on, or timely attempts at the state level to exempt religionists with “sincerely held” religious beliefs from honoring civil rights or anti-discrimination laws. In your persuasive essay, analyze the dangers such redefinition pose for individuals, the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and our understanding of equal justice under the law. 

WORD LENGTH: 600 - 750 words
ELIGIBILITY: Open to ongoing graduate students aged 30 or younger, or undergraduate students ages 25-30 in North America. You may enter graduate contest if you will graduate by spring or summer 2017.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than midnight, July 15, 2017.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out online submission form and attach essay. Essay must be typed, double-spaced, standard margins, font size of 11 or 12 point, and attached as a PDF. Your name and the name of your essay must be included on every page. Pages must be numbered. Indicate word length at end of essay. Please choose your own title; do not use the topic of the essay as the title. Do not attach a resume with your essay.

AGREEMENT: By entering the competition, you agree to permit your winning essay to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper; announced in a news release; and posted online at FFRF's website. You also agree, if you win an award, to promptly provide FFRF with a photograph of yourself suitable for reproduction with your winning essay.

REQUIREMENTS: Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Students will be disqualified if they do not follow instructions, including word limit and deadline. FFRF monitors for plagiarism. You may not re-enter the same contest for your student status if FFRF has previously awarded you for an essay in that contest, e.g., if you have previously won an award in FFRF's college essay contest, you may not re-enter the college competition. If you have entered but not won, you may submit another essay in the same contest in the future.
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