1. Overview


Cornelius Vander Broek 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 are offered 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), and a complimentary book or premium. 

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: "Is secularism the 'savior' of American democracy?"

PROMPT: Is the fate of U.S. democracy becoming a face-off between the “Nones” (atheists, agnostics and “nothings in particular”) with their support of secular government, and Christian nationalists? Please include at least a brief definition of what Christian nationalism means. Pick one or two controversies or issues in which Christian nationalists are denying or threatening rights or reforms in America (whether state/church separation, abortion or LGBTQ rights, book banning, voting, vaccination policies, climate change remediation, etc.). Explain how Christian nationalist actions are threatening these rights or reforms (and how you may be personally affected). Then muster your best arguments about how and why the secular movement can take strategic action to defend secular democracy.

WORD LENGTH: 550-750 words

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.  FFRF does monitor for plagiarism, or A.I. (e.g. ChatGPT, etc.).  If an entry is later found to be the product of plagiarism, A.I., etc. it will be disqualified and/or FFRF may demand return of the prize money and bar entrant from future FFRF essay competitions. 

AGREEMENT: By entering the competition, you agree to permit your name and 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.