Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards


Brian Bolton First Place Prize: $3,500
Second Place Award: $3,000
Third Place Award: $2,500
Fourth Place Award: $2,000
Fifth Place Award: $1,500
Sixth Place Award: $1,000
Seventh Place Award: $750 
Eighth Place Award: $500
Ninth Place Award: $400
Tenth Place Award: $300
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

All eligible entrants will 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: The dangers of religious extremism in 21st century America.

PROMPT: Please write about the dangers of religious extremism today in the United States, whether by individuals, churches, public officials or the judiciary.  You may wish to address Christian nationalist threats to civil rights or American principles.  Provide some examples and analysis, and make a case for secularism.

WORD LENGTH: 550 - 750 words
ELIGIBILITY: Open to any graduate students through the age 30, or to undergraduate students ages 25-30 who attend a North American college or university. You remain eligible to enter this contest if you will graduate by spring or summer 2021.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than 11:59pm, July 31, 2021.  Winners will be notified in late September 2021.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out the online submission form and attach the essay. Essay must be typeset, double-spaced, standard margins, font size of 11 to 14 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 the 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 high-resolution 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 this contest if FFRF has previously awarded you for an essay in FFRF's Brian Bolton "Graduate/Older Student" contest.  If you have previously entered but not won, you may submit another essay in this year's contest.

BANISH MANGLISH: FFRF encourages you to please use inclusive language, rather than male-generic language.  For example, try "humanity" or "humankind," rather than "mankind."