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: $600
Sixth Place Award: $500
Seventh Place Award: $400

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 a year of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper (publishes winning student essays).

All eligible entrants will be offered a free sweatshop-free cotton T-shirt (let us choose the color).  The upbeat message includes a rhyme by the "slightly irreverent" lyricist Yip ("Over the Rainbow") Harburg: "They who live on love and laughter/Don't mess around with the hereafter."  To order T-Shirt see end of this survey.

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: The Dangers of Bibliolatry in the United States

PROMPT: Biblioatry is defined as "worship of the bible."  What are the dangers of basing social policy or laws on the bible?  Why do biblical teachings make bad public policy? Marshall evidence, topical and/or historical, which shows the harm or threat of unquestioned respect for the bible by Americans, including public officials.  You may wish to analyze the flurry of state bills being introduced to encourage or require bible instruction in public schools or promote the Ten Commandments, or resolutions declaring "the year of the bible" or otherwise showing governmental preference for the bible.  You may wish to focus on one or two specific threats, for example problematic bible verses affecting women's or LGBTQ rights, science, children's health, etc.  Include your personal thoughts about the bible and what you think can be done about its undue influence.

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 2018.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than midnight, August 1, 2018.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out online submission form and attach essay. Essay must be typed, 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 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 entered but not won, you may submit another essay this year.