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 bible's continuing harm to civil liberties and U.S. society.

PROMPT: The bible, still a bestseller found lurking in nearly every hotel or motel room, continues to command undue respect in the United States.  Select at least one destructive or erroneous biblical passage to show how its influence continues to cause harm today to individuals, civil liberties or society in general.  Marshall evidence that demonstrates why these biblical teachings make bad public policy, or how they are being used to target civil liberties or adversely affect individuals (for instance, the rights of women or LGBTQ, science research or education, children's health, etc.).

WORD LENGTH: 550 - 750 words

Brian Bolton is a retired professor who not only endows this contest but is underwriting a new Bible Accountability Project with FFRF.
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 2019.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than midnight, August 1, 2019.  Winners will be announced in late September 2019.

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."